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HP fronts EVA with PolyServe clustered NAS

Hewlett-Packard's multiprotocol EVA4400 bundle features N-way clustered NAS nodes, but analysts say it's only the first step toward deeper integration between HP block and file products.

Hewlett-Packard Co. announced today that it will offer its EVA4400 array with up to 16 nodes in a clustered-NAS gateway bundle based on IP it acquired last February with PolyServe.

Customers can attach hosts through the NAS gateway or via a Fibre Channel or iSCSI switch to the EVA without passing through the NAS gateway, according to Ian Duncan, HP's director of NAS marketing. The minimum starting configuration is a 4.8 TB EVA4400 and three PolyServe nodes. Theoretically, it can scale to 16 nodes and 96 TB – that's the capacity of a single EVA4400, which is the limit of the storage pool for this bundle. It will be available early in the fourth quarter, at a starting price of $94,000.

This leaves a gap in HP's clustered-NAS offerings between the EVA4400 bundle and the massive ExDS9100, which is aimed at Internet companies and also due in the fourth quarter; the ExDS9100 starts at 250 TB capacity. Duncan did not say specifically whether more models were planned to flesh out the line, but he did say there is an "opportunity" to add more.

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Other vendors are also developing scale-out NAS products. EMC has its Hulk hardware with upcoming Maui file system software, and NetApp expects to converge its N-way GX clustering software with its OnTap filer operating system next year. Given the rise of server virtualization and concerns about power and cooling resources, multiprotocol storage is also becoming the approach of choice for storage vendors.

Analysts said this is a positive step for HP. "I'm pleased to see this progress," said analyst Mark Peters, Enterprise Strategy Group. "Everybody in the market should be heading this way right now."

Taneja Group analyst Jeff Boles said he was happy to see HP doing more with the PolyServe IP. "We know PolyServe scales very well, and it's been vetted in the marketplace," he said.

However, both Peters and Boles said HP's work is not finished when it comes to integration and unified storage. "This is progress, but it's not the answer," Peters said. "You still have to manage the EVA and NAS separately."

No other unified storage product on the market offers N-way NAS gateways along with directly accessible block storage, but Boles pointed out that this product isn't available yet – and neither is the ExDS9100, which was announced months ago. "It's interesting to see HP deliver innovation based on PolyServe, but I have to stop and scratch my head around why they're announcing these products so far ahead of availability," he said.

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