HDS, HP simplify high-end disk array pricing

Users of the new USP-V disk array from HDS and the XP24000 disk array from HP will now pay less for attaching external storage, as well as capacity.

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Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has relaxed its pricing on external storage software licenses for the newest high-end array the USP-V, along with its rebranded version from Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), the XP24000, according to users and officials from HP. Users will no longer have to pay the same licensing fees for software on external storage, and capacity-based pricing has also been lowered for smaller configurations.

"The competitive advantage we had as a result of [selling] external storage [with the XP] was moderated somewhat by high price and all the extra stuff users had to add on," according to Dwayne Gray, an HP product manager for XP who oversees software licensing for the array. "We got good feedback from the field that that wasn't such a good thing, and Hitachi listened."

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Ed Kosten, supervisor of Unix systems engineering for Priority Health, is currently in the process of installing one of the new XP24000s and said the new licensing will allow him to attach HP EVA arrays for external storage at one third the cost of the XP12000. "Before, even if we bought a cheap [HP] MSA and wanted it to be presented to the XP, it would be as much as if we'd just bought more disk for the XP itself with the licensing that was involved."

Now, Kosten said, the new licensing will allow him to attach an EVA array, allocate 3 terabytes (TB) of its cheaper storage for testing a production Oracle database and replicate the data to it using HP's Business Copy. "Previously it would've required us to restore the data to a test server from tape. Now that we can afford to attach the EVA, we've gone to testing in minutes instead of hours or days."

According to HP's Gray, the change in pricing comes first and foremost from an across-the-board lowering of license fees for external capacity. Gray declined to give specific numbers, but said the pricing for usable capacity-based licensing on external storage is now 10% to 20% of the cost of raw capacity licensing on internal storage, depending on a user's capacity. Previously, both were licensed equally according to raw capacity. This is applicable to both the HDS and HP models of the array, Gray said.

The overall pricing structures for both internal and external storage have also been changed from capacity licensing "tiers" to pricing "bands," which cuts down on the number of licenses users need to purchase. Previously, the tiered structure required users to "build" capacity licenses according to tiers of zero-1 TB, 2-6 TB, 7-15 TB, 16-31 TB and 32-63 TB. "So, if you had 63 TB you couldn't just buy 63 TB, you had to buy one of the zero-[1 TB license], five of the 2-6 TB, nine of the 7-15 TB and so on. You'd end up with a purchase order with five line items for the same software," Gray said.

Now, users can purchase capacity licenses within pricing "bands" rather than having to build up the licenses, so the 63 TB example would require two licenses within the 32-63 TB band rather than five.

Also changed with the new version of both arrays is the number of software licenses required for external storage. For example, an application called AutoLUN, which automatically load balances data within RAID groups on the array to optimize performance, used to be required for both internal and external storage. "That was a perfect example of the licensing issues," Kosten said. "Because those external arrays have their own way of masking LUNs and RAID groups, AutoLUN didn't work with them anyway."

HDS software changes

Specific software titles are bundled differently between HP and HDS with the new systems, but both have tried to streamline what previously had been separate line items into bundles requiring a single license key. "Hitachi Data Systems' goal was to price the new software bundles below the cost of the individual products if purchased separately," said a company spokesperson in an email to SearchStorage.com.

New bundles on the USP-V include a package called Hitachi Basic Operating System (BOS) software, which includes Hitachi Device Manager, all Hitachi Resource Manager software components, Hitachi Server Priority Manager and Hitachi Virtual Partition Manager with support for up to four storage partitions. Licensing is based on internal raw capacity only. Volume management and partition management for more than four partitions comes with a separate bundle called Basic Operating System V, which is licensed by the attached external storage usable capacity.

There are also three new replication bundles: Hitachi's Disaster Recovery, which combines TrueCopy Synchronous replication and Universal Replicator for two data centers; Disaster Recovery Extended, which includes support for up to three data centers; and Hitachi In-System Heterogeneous Replication, which consists of ShadowImage Heterogeneous Replication and Copy-On-Write software.

HP software changes

The XP24000 comes with HP StorageWorks XP Array Manager software, which shares much of its code with HDS's HiCommand software. According to Gray, HP has made some changes to licensing within that software, as well. One software title, called Tiered Storage Manager, which migrates data between tiers while applications are live, has lower pricing in capacity bands below 126 TB. HP has also bundled AutoLUN, a LUN configuration security manager and cache partitioning software into Array Manager, rather than requiring separate licenses for each. The new Array Manager now includes command-line interface (CLI) and SMI-S features that previously had to be purchased with HP's CommandView array management software.

There is one caveat to the pricing changes for HP users, however, according to Gray. The old LUN configuration software was more expensive across the board than the new array manager and pricing has also been lowered across the board for HP's CommandView SRM tool. But otherwise, pricing for specific software titles vary, particularly when it comes to large configurations. "Around 80 TB and below, the new pricing is less than the old pricing, but at 80 TB and above, the new pricing is more," Gray said. "It's a tradeoff we made to make it easier for low-end guys to get in, and high-end customers always negotiate list prices down."

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