Hewlett-Packard, desperately wanting to change the subject from ongoing corporate leadership and financial issues to just about anything else, on Dec. 3 introduced a set of new storage systems that takes the heat off for a few minutes.
HP told eWEEK in no uncertain terms that this is the biggest and most important storage announcement it has ever made. Companies often say they have big announcements about new products, but they don't often proclaim something as the biggest in company history.
HP is, in fact, unveiling a whole new storage model: Its rebuilt 3PAR StoreServ arrays and HP StoreOnce backup hardware products, capable of multi-petabyte capacities for big data workloads, embody new-generation designs, but the twist is that they use the same code base as previous 3PAR and StoreOnce versions. This enables the transition from an older system to a new one to be all but painless, HP said.
Code Refreshes All the Rage
EMC, which had been using the same Symmetrix code base for a couple of decades, did a similar refresh in January 2011. Oracle (with Sun's hardware line) and NetApp also have gone through recent code refreshes, so a trend is under way.
Storage simply must keep evolving to higher levels at HP, because it has been the company's saving grace for a couple of years. This has been the best-performing hardware division, bar none, at the company during the last several quarters -- far surpassing in percentage of growth other divisions making printers, servers and PCs.
Dave Donatelli, a former EMC executive who runs the storage division from his post as Executive Vice President and General Manager of HP's Enterprise Group, is the guy calling the shots, and he knows how to call them.
Single Code Base Is the Plan
"We have been working for a long time to get as close to a single technology model as possible," Tom Joyce, a storage division vice president at HP, told eWEEK. "Right after we acquired 3PAR (for $2.35 billion in September 2010, following a tug-of-war with Dell that upped the cost), we talked about how we were going to move towards a converged infrastructure model for storage and how we were going to design software in modules that will be used together and re-packaged in different ways."
This new set of products is the result of all that planning in addition to the inclusion of software from around the company, Joyce said.
"Under the covers, this includes our file services, some ProLiant (server) software, and IT from HP Labs. We put these repackaged software-only modules into large and small appliances to make one software-driven architecture," Joyce said.
That's not all. HP also is stirring Autonomy's data management software for big data analytics into some of the new products.
"Most storage hardware is now a commodity," Russ Fellows, senior partner at the Evaluator Group told eWEEK. "Can HP break itself out well enough with its software, pre-configurements and ease of use for line-of-business users to continue to make this one of the company's leading products? Can 3PAR continue to stand up against the EMCs, NetApps, IBMs and Oracles of the world over time?
"I believe they definitely can. The 3PAR platform had a number of unique, industry-leading features when HP acquired them. HP has continued to invest in this product line, and I believe the 3PAR product line is one of the best storage products today."
What's in the New Products
Here are some of the key facts and figures on the new HP storage hardware and software:
--HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000: HP claims that this is the industry’s only midrange quad-controller platform with Tier 1 storage availability and quality of service features at a relatively low price point for remote offices and midrange or smaller companies. The system can run both block and file data services and is available with either SATA disks and solid-state drives. When equipped in an all-SSD configuration, it is capable of performing more than 320,000 I/O operations per second, HP said.
The company also said it is also working on an SSD-optimized 3PAR model that delivers extreme performance and rich data services.
--HP StoreAll Storage, a highly scalable platform for object and file data access, provides a simplified environment for big data archive and cloud storage that is user-friendly enough to be provisioned by savvy line-of-business employees.
--HP StoreAll Express Query software was created by HP Labs, the company’s central research arm, and is a metadata database that allows clients to conduct search queries 100,000 times faster than previous file system search methods, facilitating informed business decisions based on the most current data.
--Integration with HP Autonomy Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) offloads processing tasks to HP StoreAll so that analytics can be rapidly performed with more current data and using less compute hardware. Additional integration with HP StoreAll and HP Autonomy Consolidated Archive, as well as certification of other independent software vendor applications, provides safe, long-term retention of digital assets.
--HP StoreOnce 2000 and 4000 Backup, with support for HP StoreOnce Catalyst software, provides efficient data movement and high-performance deduplication to reduce data protection costs in remote sites and data centers. The new models perform backup operations up to three times faster at a 35 percent lower cost than the closest competitive system.
Pricing and availability is as follows:
--The HP StoreServ 7200 is available globally immediately starting at $20,000. HP StoreServ 7400 starts at $32,000. HP Priority Optimization will be available in 2013.
--HP StoreAll Storage is expected to be available globally on Dec. 20, with pricing as low as $0.91 per GB.
--HP StoreOnce 6200 Backup systems are available worldwide immediately for a starting price of $250,000. HP StoreOnce 2000 Backup systems start at $10,000.
--HP StoreOnce 4000 Backup systems start at $30,000. HP StoreOnce Catalyst Software licenses start at $500.
Additional information about the new HP storage is available here.