Hewlett-Packard, determined to assert itself in a rapidly escalating scramble against IBM and EMC for small and midsize businesses, announced on July 24 a bevy of new storage products and services expressly aimed at that market.
HP boosted its frontline StorageWorks server portfolio with new, improved firmware for its entry-level and midrange disk array offerings.
In addition, the Palo Alto, Calif., company said it is adding new integration functionality to its Storage Essentials software line.
On the OEM side, HP also announced an agreement with France-based Bull SA to include its StorageAuthority Technology Suite within the Bull StoreWay Maestro Management brand.
Finally, HP and Oracle announced they have partnered to develop new reference designs for data warehouses aimed to help accelerate the implementation of Oracle Database 10g-based data warehouses on HP servers and storage by IT departments.
“All enterprise customers are experiencing data growth. We have a lot more data and we have to keep it longer. SMB companies are no exception to this rule. So we are seeing growth opportunities for storage vendors in the SMB market,” Dianne McAdam, director of Enterprise Information Assurance for The Clipper Group in Wellesley, Mass., told eWEEK.
One of the keys to winning over the SMB storage market is making the server installation and setup as simple as point and click, McAdam said.
“For example, [HP] has a solution called My First SAN, which bundles disk storage with a small switch and the HBAs needed for the server into one package. There is a guide that is shipped with the solution that steps people through the installation process,” McAdam said.
But the problem with SANs is that not all equipment works well together (for example, certain disk drives or switches require certain HBAs and will not work with other HBAs), she said.
“Figuring this all out for SMB customers can be a bit overwhelming. HP ships the HBA, switch and disk array together knowing that this equipment will work well together. It eliminates the guess work [i.e., Do I have the right HBA?],” McAdam said.
Disk array firmware aims to maximize bandwidth
The new firmware for HPs entry-level modular disk array, the HP StorageWorks MSA1500cs, enables full, dual-active controller support for the HP-UX11i operating system, aimed to maximize bandwidth, a company spokesperson said.
This functionality enables both controllers to write data to the drives and gives data access to the hosts at all times in HP-UX11i installations, the spokesperson said.
This “active/active” support gives customers failover capabilities on redundant storage controllers and allows both controllers to share the workload, improving scalability and availability.
HP also offers this controller firmware to its installed-base of MSA1500cs customers, providing two controller active/active support for Windows and Linux platforms, and in the future HP will also extend this to OpenVMS, Tru64 UNIX, NetWare and SCO operating systems as well.
MSA Active/Active firmware is available today as a download here.
HP also enhanced the array-based software replication capabilities for its StorageWorks EVA midrange disk arrays.
- StorageWorks Business Copy EVA Software: New MirrorClone feature is a pre-normalized clone copy of an EVA Vdisk (LUN) that provides a point-in-time copy enhancing data protection, application testing, data mining and other non-disruptive business processes.
-of-Box Storage Integration”>
- HP Continuous Access EVA Software: New Enhanced Asynchronous Replication capability buffers outstanding writes to disk, allowing longer recovery point objectives.
New interoperability for storage essentials
HPs new Storage Essentials 5.1 software will now provide improved out-of-box integration with HP OpenView software and HP NAS (network-attached storage).
It also provides new NAS functionality by adding discovery, topology, reporting and management capabilities to NAS devices.
It also will support other storage hardware/software configurations including: NetApp Qtree; Microsoft Storport; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0; 64-bit Windows; SUSE Linux; SMI-S-based Brocade SAN switch and directors; Microsoft SQL Server 2005 on Integrity servers; and Brocade 48000 Director switch.
Is this so-called “out-of-the-box” storage server integration and installation really that simple for a non-IT small business owner?
“Yes, it is. It usually installs with a few mouse clicks,” McAdam said. “You may not have lots of options to choose from—as opposed to products that run in large enterprise environments—but SMB customers want something easy to install and may not need lots of options.”
HP, Bull join forces
Bull SA, Frances largest computer maker, will now offer HPs StorageAuthority Technology Suite under its own Bull StoreWay Maestro Management brand.
With this agreement, Bull now has many more options to deliver integrated SRM and SAN management technology to customers worldwide through HPs sales channels.
The two companies also will collaborate on standards-based instrumentation for other products in Bulls storage portfolio.
Oracle, HP connect on data warehouse design roadmaps
The HP-Oracle agreement on new data warehouse reference implementations is aimed at helping customers make decisions on a database, server and storage product mix, an Oracle spokesperson said.
These configurations, specifying HP Integrity or ProLiant servers and HP StorageWorks disk arrays running Linux or HP-UX11i and Oracle 10g databases, use a sliding scale to optimize data warehouse solutions for either raw performance or price performance.
This approach can help cut weeks out of the buying cycle and speed up time to implementation, the spokesperson said.
To avoid typical bottlenecks, each configuration defines a matched set of servers and storage that balances I/O throughput across all components for complex queries running against large data warehouses, the spokesperson said.
The configurations cover data warehouses ranging in size from 250GB to 10TB.
More sales channels may be needed
What else does HP have to do to break into IBMs and EMCs storage lead in the SMB area?
“EMCs partnership with Dell has been very successful. Dell has sold a lot of EMC products,” McAdam said. “Storage vendors sell to large enterprise customers through a direct sales force. But you cannot be successful selling to SMB customers with a large direct sales force; you need strong partners that will sell your products for you.
McAdam added that these days all of the storage vendors have partners that sell their product into the SMB market.
“HP needs to continue to maintain the partners that they have and find and nurture new partners,” she said.