HP Aims to Revamp Its Storage Portfolio

Hewlett-Packard is expected to address multiple storage simplification techniques through its largest-ever HP StorageWorks rollout in the hopes of staving off criticism over underperformance.

Hewlett-Packard will look to rebound its beleaguered storage fortunes next week at its HP Americas StorageWorks Conference 2005 by unveiling a major storage product line refresh featuring a host of newly built and OEMed components designed to keep in step with changing customer demands.

Addressing multiple storage simplification techniques through its largest-ever HP StorageWorks rollout in Las Vegas next week, Hewlett-Packard Co. will aim to put to rest a cloud of criticism that has followed its storage efforts since former CEO Carly Fiorina lashed out at the business unit last year for greatly underperforming in terms of revenue expectations.

Buoyed by its enhancement and expansion of its EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) family of products with new 4000, 6000, and 8000 EVA models and HP StorageWorks Enterprise Modular Library E-Series announced last week, HP will also introduce its new HP StorageWorks 6000 Virtual Library System, HP StorageWorks EFS (Enterprise File Services) Clustered Gateway, and EFS WAN Accelerator, according to officials at Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP.

HPs 6000 Virtual Library allows customers to step beyond traditional physical tape library limitations by boosting backup speeds and performance within complex SAN (storage area network) environments.

HP has designed the product to be able to map to any one of HPs physical libraries.

Shipping on Monday, the HP 60000 Virtual Library features HP Proliant Server hardware coupled with a Linux-based OS and takes advantage of technology from Marlborough, Mass.-based Sepaton Inc. via a new OEM agreement.

In terms of HPs push to seize a larger chunk of the network attached storage (NAS) market currently dominated by Network Appliance Inc., HP is targeting its new EFS offerings toward branch office deployments and customers that may be locked into costly or proprietary high-end NAS deployments, said Harry Baeverstad, director of NAS for HP StorageWorks.

HPs new EFS Clustered Gateway focuses on the fusion of NAS and SAN environments to expand upon storage capacity and SAN file serving capabilities.

Based on Proliant Server technology, the gateway can scale up to 16 Proliant nodes and can achieve nearly 3GB per second for read and write I/O for significantly enhanced throughput, Baeverstad said.

The entry point for a two-node clustered gateway is $75,000 with additional nodes costing $30,000 apiece.

Extending that EFS capability to speed up file transfers and other Microsoft Windows-based applications out to remote branch offices is HPs EFS WAN Accelerator.

The technology features data protection measures and a "data chunking" algorithm inspecting metadata to ensure block data has been sent across the WAN to avoid duplication.

The product can support up to 150 branch office users at the $11,000 entry-level price tag.

A larger data center configuration sells for $60,000 and can support up to 6,000 users spanning multiple branch offices.

HPs decision to fill gaping product holes within its storage portfolio via an OEM route it is unaccustomed to is evidence the systems management titan is learning to be much more in tune with its customers immediate storage requirements, said Randy Kearns, a senior partner of Greenwood, Colo.-based Evaluator Group.

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"HP has basically gone the make-or-buy decision and chose to buy a product in these areas by OEMing all these products from someone else. Thats very interesting from someone that didnt do it before," said Kearns.

"Thats being more responsive to customers that need products and need them now… [IBM and Sun Microsystems] have very judiciously chosen where they develop and where they buy, and HP has realized thats just a fact of life today and theyve done the same."

Kearns said HPs merger with Compaq, as well as sustaining a wide array of organizational and changes, likely led its storage strategy to veer off course.

However, he said HPs loyal customer base will follow the IT vendor as long as it provides needed products in a timely fashion.

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