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HP carves up blade storage with LeftHand software

Hewlett-Packard takes another step toward its 'blade everything' strategy with a combination of LeftHand SAN/iQ iSCSI SAN software and BladeSystem servers.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. has ported LeftHand Networks Inc.'s SAN/iQ iSCSI storage-area network (SAN) software as well as its Virtual Storage Appliance to its BladeSystem servers, and can now pool the storage in multiple blade chassis into one SAN.

In another move related to storage blades, HP said its BladeSystem chassis will now support zoning on direct-attached SAS storage to create partitions of DAS on the same shared disk array for blade servers.

The new HP LeftHand P4000 SAN uses LeftHand's SAN/iQ software on the HP BladeSystem, which can incorporate externally attached storage arrays. LeftHand's software provides redundancy features for multisite disaster recovery replication and high availability.

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Virtualization and the NPIV factor

Customers also have the option of bringing the entire SAN into the BladeSystem chassis with the HP StorageWorks SB40c with P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance (VSA) Software bundle. The Virtual SAN bundle is based on the VSA LeftHand launched last spring that turns direct-attached storage inside servers into an iSCSI SAN for internal virtual machines. The update allows the VSA to scale beyond 2 TB and pool HP's SB40c storage blade capacity across multiple BladeSystem chassis. This configuration is certified with VMware and integrated with VMware Inc.'s vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) disaster recovery management software.

The ability to turn blade servers into a consolidated networked storage system is part of the "blade everything" strategy HP began pushing in early 2007, when it hinted of putting everything from client servers to SANs on blades to improve power, cooling and space profiles for hardware in data centers.

"I don't think they're going to move to [blade hardware] exclusively," said Rick Villars, vice president, storage systems and executive strategies at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. "But I think there's a recognition on their part that when you start combining blades, server virtualization and the current economic environment, that there's a lot of opportunity especially in the midmarket and branch offices for consolidation projects."

Villars said the system will have the greatest appeal in the virtual server market, which is where HP is focusing LeftHand so far. "This isn't something they'll necessarily lead with to a storage user," he said. "It's more likely they'll sell it as a unified solution to someone saying 'I have 80 applications on virtual machines. What's the best system to deploy?' You have to change the fundamental cost structure for that going forward."

"Blurred line" between DAS and SAN

With its new zoning support, HP is bringing DAS with BladeSystem closer to SANs in functionality. A SAS switch on the back end allows the zoning, but HP StorageWorks senior product manager Lenore Adam said the configuration isn't quite a SAN because multiple servers can't share the same partition.

However, HP does see the line blurring between DAS and SAN. At Storage Networking World this month, company executives spoke about plans to add centralized management for both networked and direct-attached storage devices through IP it gained by acquiring Opsware Inc.


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