Storage upgrades fuel homestead business futures
Customers revitalize disk, storage connections to keep 3000s
Now that HP is no longer selling the server, the
moving parts in an HP 3000 make up the best opportunity to improve
the systems. Of the thousands of servers that still form the backbone
of businesses, many will access disk drives every day that are
nearing an end of life. HP has advised its customers the end of the
systems life is near but consultants say that end of
life claim is an accurate evaluation about the average HP 3000s
The age of those disk drives is one factor
thats prompting a storage connectivity company to target the HP
3000 market and not to replace the systems, like so many other
vendors. Austin-based Crossroads
Systems sees the 3000 market as a good target for high-speed
Fibre Channel connections, the kind that nearly all HP 3000s
This past summer Crossroads completed extensive
testing of its SA20 and SA40 attached network switches with the HP
3000s. The products operate on a wide range of systems and have been
released for more than a year. Even though HP halted sales of the
3000 this fall, Crossroads believes the 3000 sites still make a good
opportunity for its product line.
The summertime testing was
conducted through a pair of HP 3000 experts, according to Corporate
Systems Engineer Rashaka Boykins at Crossroads. One of those 3000
consultants, Craig Lalley of EchoTech (541.812.1155), said the
Crossroads devices are a great match for a customer base that needs
to be monitoring its most likely point of failure: disks.
If theyre still running 4Gb disk drives
and theyre not failing, Im surprised, Lalley said.
Theyre like florescent light bulbs. As soon as one goes
out, the rest are going to go.
Lalley said hes been serving HP 3000 shops
running slow disk technology thats becoming unreliable as well.
Rather than replace older generations of disks with identical parts
that havent failed yet, companies are turning toward disk
One benefit of up-to-date storage is better
reliability, since every disk fails at some point in its life. At
Western US retailer Longs Drug, the companys half a
terabyte of storage on a VA7100 array is shared by two 3000s. System
administrator Donna Garverick said the storage is completely
mirrored, including the system volume so I can have a drive
failure, and the VA will take care of it for me under the covers. I
sleep better at night.
The Crossroads devices, priced starting at $15,599,
let companies share the resources of HP VA7100 virtual disk array or
HPs SureStore XP 512 RAID array. These arrays cant
deliver without some kind of Fibre Channel connectivity to the
server. The Crossroads devices attach to HP 3000s SCSI bus, and
they allow direct control to each hosts access to storage,
right down to the LUN level. The products work with a full array of
Unix enterprise systems including HPs, IBMs iSeries
systems, and Windows 2000 boxes. With the right kind of connection
solution, all of those platforms can use a VA or XP system at once.
Vicom Systems began to bring this kind of
connectivity to HP 3000 sites starting in 2000, when it unveiled its
A5814A router, built by Vicom for HP. But Vicoms ongoing
Chapter 11 status could make Crossroads ServerAttach offerings
seem more stable, a key factor for the typical HP 3000 shop.
Lalley said the Vicom router is
cost-prohibitive, plus its almost impossible to get from
HP. At one site where he installed a virtual array, six Vicom
devices run off a Brocade switch.
Lalley found Crossroads SA40 product, which has two
Fibre Channel ports coming into the device and an outbound HVD SCSI
port linked to the HP 3000s SCSI bus. Using the SA40,
Lalleys client could even boot its HP 3000 off a volume on the
Whats really crazy about the whole thing
is that these disk array devices are so overpowered the HP 3000
couldnt even make these things sweat, Lalley said.
You could literally hook up two HP 3000s to a VA7110. Its
almost like giving an unlimited amount of IO to an HP 3000.
Milliseconds per service time drops in half when a
virtual array gets deployed on a 3000, he added. So long as an
intelligent device like the Crossroads, since even a large 3000
wont overtax such an array, its not unusual to have
several kinds of servers sharing a device. Lalley said this
cross-platform capability is letting 3000 customers add storage for
Fibre Channel connectivity is a standard feature on
the N-Class and A-Class HP 3000s, but those systems are not widely
installed among the customer base. Crossroads sees its product as
serving the needs of a community that has more than 50 percent of its
Although HPs stepping away from the 3000,
customers who are upgrading their storage are now seeing some of the
fastest IO ever. The combination of Fibre Channel and easily shared
storage is making a difference at Longs.
About as fast as the system asks for something,
its there, Garverick said. When we switched over to
native Fibre, it was like, Whoa.
Lalley, who handled the Crossroads products as well
as the array storage devices, said sites with a high volume of
transactions can increase the size of transactions once faster
storage is online. The larger the system the greater the potential
for improved performance. The speed boost from modern storage on a
3000 can be like adding another system.
We see a good reduction in the amount of system
overhead, and you can tune the 3000 for these XP and VA
devices, he said. By increasing the size in the 3000s
Transaction Manager, you can almost double the amount of transactions
that go through the machine.