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HP breathes life into storage line

Jo Maitland, Senior Executive Editor
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) is set to announce a list of new storage products and partnerships at its user conference next week that should give its customers some assurance that the company is refocusing on this marketplace.

Hammered by its competitors over the past year, HP lost market share and revenue to EMC Corp., IBM and Network Appliance Inc. in the midrange space as these companies upgraded their products and attacked new markets. Finally, HP is striking back.

The most significant of the announcements next week will be a refresh to the company's midrange Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family. HP is replacing the EVA 3000 and 5000 with three new arrays -- the EVA 4000, 6000 and 8000, which are shipping now.

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Key enhancements to the architecture include dual controllers, double the cache, more host connections and support for Fibre Channel and FATA drives. The 4000 and 6000 offer four host ports and the 8000 has eight. Pricing for the 4000 begins at $124,000 with 3.5 terabytes (TB), while the 6000 starts at $221,000 with 6.7 TB and the 8000 starts at $409,000 with 14 TB. These prices include the switching infrastructure and two years of support.

Command View EVA software suite, Business Copy data protection software and multipath software come free to customers upgrading from the older products. New to the software suite is a tool to monitor and analyze the performance of the arrays to identify where bottlenecks occur. Also new, Replication Solutions Manager works across the three models for replication services; SnapClone provides instant restores for local snapshots and HP has integrated its clustering products together for improved disaster recovery.

"The big thing about the new HP EVA is that it is makes it much more competitive with the EMC Clariion and IBM DS4000," said Tony Asaro, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group.

Tape update

HP will also announce the Enterprise Modular Library (EML), which comes in three models scaling from 100 to over 400 slots. It fits between the company's high-end ESL tape library and NSL workgroup autoloaders at the low end.

The EML supports HP's LTO-2 and LTO-3 drives and uses robotics from Storage Technology Corp. via an OEM deal. A key benefit of the EML is a partitioning feature for users that want to allocate storage for different jobs, like backup and archiving, within the same system.

In addition to the EML, HP will announce the StorageWorks 6000 Virtual Library System, available May 30. This product was developed for HP through an OEM relationship with virtual tape library provider, Sepaton Inc.

Grid-enabled NAS

Making further use of the software it acquired when it picked up Persist Technologies in 2003, HP will unveil NAS-based processing nodes that will front-end the EVA. So far, the Persist software has found its way into HP's Reference Information Storage System appliance for archiving data.

Now this software is being given a NAS flavor. With Persist, data and attributes about the data are divided across self-contained nodes, called SmartCells. These cells incorporate both storage and processing power, and can be federated to create redundant, modular, grid-like computing and storage capacity, according to HP. The Persist software also provides indexing, searching and retrieval capabilities for structured and unstructured data.

WAN acceleration

And hopping on the bandwagon for wide-area file services, HP will announce an OEM deal with Riverbed Technologies Inc. to offer a line of HP StorageWorks WAN accelerators. This technology provides a way to centralize remote office data, delivering it over the wire through advanced protocols and caching techniques to remote offices, instead of supporting tape backup devices at multiple locations.

Randy Kerns, partner and analyst with the Evaluator Group, said HP's refresh repositions the company against its competitors and provides its installed base an extension to products that have been successful, and a vision for new markets. "Expect to see 4 Gbps and iSCSI support on the EVA line before the end of the year," he said.

Stay tuned for more details on HP's announcements next week.

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Related Topics: Disk arrays, VIEW ALL TOPICS

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