HPE Primera: How is 100% data availability meaningfully different from 99.999%+?

Hewlett Packard Enterprise made the lofty guarantee of 100% availability for the new Primera storage appliance, but how is this practically different from the "war of the nines?"

HPE Primera: How is 100% data availability meaningfully different from 99.999%+?

At HPE Discover 2019, TechRepublic's James Sanders spoke with Enterprise Strategy Group's Bob Laliberte about Hewlett Packard Enterprise's guarantee of 100% availability for the new Primera storage appliance. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

James Sanders: So one of the big new announcements at Discover is HPE Primera, and there's not a whole lot of other vendors out there who would be willing to put their neck on the line to say 100% guaranteed availability. The guarantee, what do you think of that?

Bob Laliberte: So I think there's been a lot of effort over the last years, everyone wants to compete with how many nines of availability. So I think they're just taking that to the next five nines, six nines, seven nines, we're just going to say it's 100% guaranteed available, right? And then, the question is, what happens if it's not? So one of my counterparts tweeted out today, "It was interesting to see that 100% availability guarantee and no attorneys were harmed during the making of this." And I think that's the reality of it. It's really going to get down to what are the details and the specifics around that SLA of 100% guaranteed.

But I think, again, the underlying theme is clear. We need to have infrastructure that's 100% available all the time, from anywhere, for anything. And I think that's what they're trying to get ahead of, and really promote the fact that they've got 100% availability. And I think they also leverage the fact that when you look at the success they've had with InfoSight and being able to do predictive analytics and being able to find and fix problems before they actually cause an outage, to make them feel a little bit more comfortable about them making that guarantee.

James Sanders: One of the figures that they've mentioned is the idea of a 20% or up to 20% discount in the rare event that an outage occurs. Is that going to be an incentive that is going to attract customers?

Bob Laliberte: I don't think that will be the underlying, "Hey, we're hoping to get a 20% discount." I think most customers would want to have 100% availability. But I think it's just nice to have that. If there is that SLA, if there is something that they can fall back on that will help them. It's certainly not going to be restrictive to them, or it's not going to be the main driver for them. But it'll just be, hey, and if something does happen, then we've got this, which is better than they have potentially for an SLA that's got four nines or five nines.

SEE: Vendor risk management: A guide for IT leaders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

James Sanders: And going back to kind of the "war of the nines" between different vendors on uptime, and not just for storage, how really costly is it when there's--if you get to five nines of uptime, that's maybe a couple of hours a year. How disruptive is that really going to be for enterprises, and how much of an incentive to go to more nines out is there really going to be?

Bob Laliberte: So good question. The unfortunate answer is that probably it depends. So if you're having that downtime as scheduled downtime, or you're planning for it, that's one thing. If it's happening at the middle of your peak season or your end-of-the-month or end-of-the-quarter run that you're doing, it's going to have a much greater impact. So it really depends on when that happens as to how big of an impact it is. Again, the whole idea is, how do you create something that doesn't have any kind of outage or doesn't have any kind of availability issues?

So I'll just give you a real quick impression of the storage portfolio and what's going on. But the interesting part of this year's show was that they have delivered a lot of innovation. And in particular, when you look at the revamp that they've done to the storage portfolio, it looks like they've done a nice job of executing against some of the acquisition, so leveraging the info side from the Nimble acquisition and being able to deploy that to SimpliVity and integrate it into Primera, and Primera in itself being a combination of the simplicity of Nimble, but the availability of a 3PAR.

So it's been encouraging to see HP being able to tie together a lot of these acquisitions now that they're a couple of years in, and actually being able to gain and deliver additional value from some of them across the entire portfolio.

SEE: HPE's new storage, edge, and cloud computing offering mark 'the dawn of the intelligence era' (TechRepublic)

James Sanders: Would you be concerned at all about the amount of overlap or competing products coming outside of [HPE] or out of [HPE] that, at the end of the day, how much are they really competing with themselves?

Bob Laliberte: So that's a good question. I mean, I think what they're looking to do is offer some choice to organizations. They have SimpliVity, but they inked a deal with Nutanix, but Nutanix also runs on a lot of [HPE] ProLiant servers. So what you're seeing in this very cloud-centric world is a lot of coopetition. And it's not uncommon to go and talk to vendors and go to these shows and find out that they're working very closely with people that they're also competing against.

So I think for them it's all about how do we enable the best solution for their customers, and so that's what they're choosing to do in some of these cases where you might look at it and scratch your head a little bit about, "Okay, so they've got SimpliVity, why did they bring in Nutanix?" But I think there are some underlying things there.

James Sanders: With that coopetition, do you think that the walled gardens of the 90s are completely dead and gone?

Bob Laliberte: So good question. I think, the question is, you know, corporate can go ahead and ink these deals, what happens in the field might be something completely different. So a lot of it will be predicated also on, when you're thinking about a go-to-market perspective, how the sales teams and partners are compensated and quota reliefed on which products. And that will certainly drive a lot of the behavior as to how much of competitive products get sold vs. their own [HPE] product.

Also see