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HP storage chief blasts EMC

Bob Schultz, GM of HP's storage business, says EMC's partnership with Dell is uncertain at best, and the company's major acquisitions have not burned up the market.

Bob Schultz, senior vice president and general manager of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) StorageWorks division, took some time out during the company's analyst event in Boston this week to talk about HP's view of the storage market.

How come no one can stop EMC [Corp]? Its growth over the past couple of years has been impressive.

Bob Schultz: Their growth has come from markets they had no presence in, like the midrange and SMB [small and midsized business). Anyone who bought VMware [Inc.] would have had success with that company. Other than that, Documentum is not taking over the world, document management is too heavy a process; Legato has benefited from the Symantec Corp.-Veritas [Software Corp.] merger but is hardly burning up the market. And let's see how long Dell [Inc.] stays with them for SMB. It's a forced marriage, and by reselling EMC, Dell doesn't control its own destiny. Eventually, Dell is going to want to translate its presence in the storage market into revenues for itself.

Who do you consider your biggest competitors to be?

Schultz: EMC and Dell are the obvious names, but the one coming out the strongest is IBM. They are really aggressive in the channel.

What's driving storage sales today?

Schultz: Capacity growth is still out of control; then protecting data and controlling it for business continuity; then putting it somewhere and archiving it efficiently. Compliance is a concern -- it's morphing from SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] and SOX [Sarbanes-Oxley Act] to corporate governance and records management. It's broader than e-mail.

HP introduced the Reference Information Storage System (RISS) for archiving almost two years ago, but we hardly ever get to talk to RISS customers. Is that because there aren't very many?

Schultz: No. We have lots of RISS customers. It is a longer sales cycle than other storage systems. People understand adding another EVA, but with RISS we have to talk about protecting data for longer periods, it's a higher level sale.

Can you explain HP's archiving product strategy? You have RISS for archiving e-mail and documents, the Bycast [Inc. ] product that you OEM to archive medical images, and you recently acquired OuterBay [Technologies Inc.] for database archiving. How do these pieces fit together?

Schultz: Bycast supports DICOM interfaces that hook into a hospital's PACS [picture archival content] system for storing medical images. We could technically add DICOM to RISS, but Bycast is working well for us there, and it would take 18 months or so to do that work. OuterBay can be encapsulated and stored in RISS so RISS can now store your e-mail, documents and database.

Why did you acquire OuterBay over other database archiving software vendors?

Schultz: Sixty percent of our Unix servers run Oracle, and Outerbay is tuned for Oracle. Our server team will sell it, our consulting practice, which has a dedicated Oracle team, will sell it, and our storage team will sell it.

What are the top feature requests you're getting for the EVA [Enterprise Virtual Array]?

Schultz: Actually, it's how to bring EVA features down to the lower end products. MSA [Modular Smart Array] users want higher functionality. like snapshot and replication.

Which of your products support iSCSI today?

Schultz: We just announced it on the EVA. We have the entry-level MSA 1510i, and our file servers also run block services over iSCSI through an OEM deal we have with FalconStor [Software Inc.].

How would a user decide whether to run NAS or an iSCSI SAN array?

Schultz: NAS is still easier to understand for many users -- it's managed like all other servers. SANs are still viewed as complex; users hear that they are difficult.

Has Microsoft's entry into this space made SANs simpler for customers?

Schultz: Actually, there are six different interfaces that you go through with Microsoft today to make an iSCSI connection and 30 steps. We have a wizard that's five clicks and it does all the steps. This is absolutely needed to drive the SMB market.

Is iSCSI cheaper to deploy and manage than Fibre Channel?

Schultz: It's interesting. With iSCSI you're saving on the price of a Fibre Channel HBA [host bus adapter], but EMC requires you to buy PowerPath when you buy their iSCSI as they don't support Microsoft MPIO [multipath I/O]. Our users can use MPIO, which keeps the cost down.

How's your NAS business going with the PolyServe [Inc.]OEM deal? It's a radically different approach.

Schultz: It has to be. NetApp [Network Appliance Inc.] is well entrenched there. We had to look at how to attack them. People need more bandwidth, especially oil and gas and chip design companies. They need more bandwidth than a single box can give them. Our clustered gateway scales out from two to 16 nodes with scalability up to 16 terabytes (TB) for the Linux version, or 2 TB for the Windows Storage Server 2003 version per file system. We were No. 9 in Windows market share for NAS; now we're No. 1. But we've got to build credibility as we move into the enterprise. This year our plan is to target NetApp users that are unhappy -- the ones that can't wait forever for the Spinnaker [Networks Inc.] box. Next year, we'll go after NetApp directly. Our plans are modest this year as we also have to go and build the channel and the sales team.

Last time we talked you said you could take all the calls from customers interested in virtualization. Has that changed?

Schultz: Virtualization is an enabling technology. It gets built into solution sets so that customers can get better use of resources. We don't get a lot of calls for a God box that's going to virtualize the storage pool. We use the XP [which HP's OEMs from HDS (Hitachi Data Systems Inc.)] to extend the life of heterogeneous arrays behind it; and to migrate data from older arrays to newer ones.

How is HP's 'systems approach' benefiting users in terms of management?

Schultz: We've aligned HP-UX virtual Unix machines with the XP, there's line of sight between the virtual server and virtual storage. We are working on more integrated server and storage management with our System Insight Manager suite.

Still, from the user perspective today, there's a brick wall between the two management tools.

Schultz: Yes, people have developed independent tools, which has created that wall. But we have one common database and one set of tools and we integrate up. Today, users learn System Insight Manager once and it runs across their servers and storage. We're also adding a services component to it for dynamic, action-oriented alerts. These would prompt an action from the HP service team to send someone out or start fixing the problem remotely. We're driving toward that level of integration.

IBM doesn't seem to have the interest in this, which makes it an opportunity for us. Their people sit in different businesses, and they compete with each other.

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