HP Offers Hardware, Software Solutions for SMBs

HP is rolling out a host of hardware and software solutions, and a line of financing options, designed to give SMBs access to easy-to-manage and energy-efficient products that will help them as they take advantage of the economic recovery. Key among these are new SMB-targeted PCs, servers and storage devices, as well as collaboration tools.

Hewlett-Packard is looking to drive enterprise-class capabilities to the SMB space.

HP on Nov. 9 unveiled a host of hardware and software products and financing options designed to help smaller businesses get technology that takes advantage of such trends as energy efficiency and collaboration.

The new offerings acknowledge that while they may be smaller in size, these businesses need technology for many of the same reasons their larger brethren do, Kathy Chou, vice president of worldwide SMB strategy and commercial sales for HP, said in an interview.

Issues such as performance and efficiency are "ubiquitous no matter what size company you are or at what stage you are," Chou said. "All of [these offerings] not only save costs, but make you more effective."

These will continue to become important as the economic recovery continues, she said, adding that SMBs will be key drivers in the recovery. A key aim of the new SMB offerings is to give these companies, many of which have few if any IT employees of their own, similar technology capabilities as larger enterprises, Chou said.

The offerings include the HP Pro 3000 Series business desktop PCs, which Chou said are designed to be flexible and easy to manage. They run Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system, which many in the industry believe will help fuel a refresh of aging business PCs.

"There is a lot of interest around Windows 7," Chou said. "A lot of customers stayed with [Windows] XP and did not migrate to Vista. Now you have a lot of PCs that are six or seven years old."

HP also is adding to its Direct Connect collaboration solutions, including the vendor's Virtual Rooms Web conferencing offering that allows up to four connections in one conference. Other collaboration tools in the Direct Connect portfolio include Virtual Support Room, which lets support technicians access and control other computers online to fix problems for customers and other offices; Huddle.net, which is a cloud computing environment that gives users collaboration, project management and document sharing capabilities without having to download software; and Norton Online Backup from Symantec, which backs up data and media content to an online location.

In addition, HP is rolling out new ProLiant G6 servers. The ProLiant ML 110 is being offered as a first server for small businesses that offers integrated management that makes it easy to use without the need for in-house IT resources. The DL 120 has similar capabilities in a rack-mount form factor, Pierce said.

On the networking side, HP is rolling out its ProCurve 2520 Switch Series designed to enable SMBs to more easily deploy voice, video and wireless solutions, which can help increase collaboration and reduce power, cooling and operational costs.

The standards-based switches can be fit into existing IT environments, and setup is simplified because of a Web interface. The switches also offer the choice of Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

Businesses can connect IP phones directly to the switches via support for PoE (Power over Ethernet), which eliminates the need for another power supply.

"[The switches] are reliable, easy to use and can scale," Pierce said.

HP also is rolling out three offerings in the storage space, including the StorageWorks DAT 320 tape drive, which Pierce said doubles the capacity of the previous offering and consumes half the power.

"You're getting more storage for less power with more performance," she said.

HP also is unveiling the StorageWorks D2D backup system and LeftHand P4000 SAN (storage-area network) solution, which offers new snapshot capabilities.

HP's SimpleSave hard disk drives allow for the automatic finding and backing up of data on the PC, with no software needed to install or configure on the system. The hard disks come in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB versions.

In addition, the vendor is offering bundles of ProLiant servers, StorageWorks storage products and ProCurve networking devices with Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2, which includes the software maker's Hyper-V virtualization technology. The ProLiants offer SMBs a 100 percent increase in overall performance over current HP servers available to them and a 95 percent reduction in power, cooling and management costs, said Kristin Pierce, worldwide director of SMB solutions for HP's ProCurve networking business.

The bundles with Microsoft's server OS gives SMBs the chance to take advantage of the benefits of virtualization, which is in demand among the smaller businesses as well as larger enterprises.

"Across the board, virtualization is a trend that we're seeing," Pierce said.

In the printing space, Instant-On technology enables HP's compact LaserJet P2055 printers to save up to 50 percent more energy over traditional fusing technology, and HP's Eco Solutions Print Console tool lets SMBs manage a printer's energy and paper use.

HP Financial Services also offers a number of financing solutions designed to help SMBs access HP products.

"We wanted to figure out how to make it simple [for SMBs] to purchase our solutions," Chou said.