Most of the time in IT, new feature sets trickle down from high-end server and storage systems and become standard in lower-end, less-powerful hardware and software for small to medium-size businesses and home offices. Generally, they also become cheaper.
Here is a case in which the trickling is going upstream.
Among several storage-related announcements made on Sept. 29, Hewlett-Packard introduced the StorageWorks X510 Data Vault Series desktop mini-tower, a near-duplicate of HP's MediaSmart Server that home users employ to view video and photos and listen to music. The X510 runs on Windows Home Server and supports PC clients running Windows or Mac OS systems.
To get it up and running, all a user has to do is plug in the power cord and Ethernet connection. It both backs up data stores and can restore the entire system following a power outage or other disruption, Lee Johns, HP director of marketing for unified computing, told eWEEK.
"You can access this remotely, even from an iPhone, if that's what you're using," Johns said. The business-oriented X510 is powered by a 2.5GHz Pentium E5200 processor and features 2GB of RAM. It has four internal SATA drive bays -- each of which supports a drive of up to 1.5TB capacity. It has four USB ports and an eSata port to enable a maximum of 13.5TB capacity, HP claimed.
Designed for SMBs with up to 10 Windows PC or Mac OS X clients, the X510 includes such useful business capabilities as remote file access, fully-automated client backup and remote desktop control. The pricing of the network-attached storage device is also part of the news: $699 for the 1TB starter package.
With this new product, Hewlett-Packard, well known for office peripherals that include printers and scanners, now wants to supply small and mid-range businesses with yet another IT machine: desktop data storage units.
In the process, HP is heading into stiff new competition with companies such as Iomega, Seagate and Buffalo in an effort to offer inexpensive desktop storage to businesses with several servers to one- or two-person microbusinesses with one server or none at all.
HP also announced upgrades to the StorageWorks X1000 and X3000 Network Storage Systems it introduced last May. The X1000 and X3000 combine file and application storage so that SMBs do not need to invest in siloed storage systems.
"The X1000 and X3000 are self-contained systems; they have iSCSI and file serving with an automated storage manager, which makes it very easy for an SMB to configure," Johns said at the time.
"A user can basically just request extra capacity. For example, it can add an extra 100MB for an application like [Microsoft] Exchange. The system will just go off and configure what's needed, carve up the LUNs automatically, and get it deployed."
HP also announced something called High Availability Bundles, which are pre-configured hardware-software packages built around the X3000 gateway and Windows Storage Server 2008.
The bundles include most standard high-end enterprise storage features, including remote access, built-in virus protection, replication and file deduplication. Johns said the bundles, the pricing of which starts at $10,000 and go up to $30,000, do not require extra license fees for networking protocols, file replication or snapshot capabilities.
"Data protection is understood to be crucial these days, and most small IT operations either don't have the skills and/or desire to do it themselves," Mark Peters, senior storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, told eWEEK.
"HP is a soup-to-nuts IT vendor and is therefore all-but-compelled to have a DP offering at all levels of the IT pyramid. The market may consist of smaller users, but there's a load more of them."
"I do think the HP brand counts for a lot and will garner market success for the Data Vault. The HP badge says 'trust' and recognition -- even when that's built on laser printers -- which is going to be a crucial decision factor for small business and SOHO's," Peters said.
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