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HP expands Microsoft-based SMB network-attached storage offerings with Data Vault series

The X500 Data Vault series based on Windows Home server is meant for small offices and home offices (SOHO), and the Windows Storage Server 2008-based X3000 will come in new high-availability bundles.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. refreshed its Windows Server-based data storage hardware line today with the introduction of the small office/home office (SOHO) X500 Data Vault series and new high-availability (HA) options for its X3000 Windows Storage Server 2008 product line.

The first model of the X500 series to ship will be the X510, which holds up to 3 TB and is meant for office with up to 10 machines needing centralized data backup. It is priced at $699 for 1 TB, $859 for 2 TB and $999 for 3 TB.

The product ships with software that will automatically back up PCs with agents installed. Customers can add external drives with eSATA or USB to scale up the capacity. Any off-the-shelf 3.5-inch SATA drive can be used in the X510 Data Vault for internal expansion.

The X500 can be upgraded to the higher-end X1000 or HA X3000 systems, which are being refreshed today. The X500 can also be replicated to a secondary site for disaster recovery.

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In the event of a full-machine restore from the X500, the user would initiate the process by using a CD to install a client automatically connecting the PC to the Data Vault. A new OS is not required, meaning the product can perform bare-metal restores, according to product marketing manager Bilil Johnson.

The product will be competing with other SOHO/SMB network-attached storage (NAS) products being marketed by Buffalo Technology , Hitachi GST, Iomega, Seagate and NetGear.

According to Lee Johns, director of unified storage marketing for HP, customers can remotely access files using mobile devices as well as PCs. The X500 also includes the single-instance storage (SIS) file-level data deduplication included with the Windows Home Server OS.

HP's pricing is designed to undercut Buffalo's TeraStation III, which is priced between $900 and $1,100 through various retailers for 2 TB.

"This is going against parts of the ReadyNAS line, but also against Buffalo and Iomega," IDC home networking analyst Jonathan Gaw said. "The four-bay configuration makes it look like they're targeting more SMB with this than consumer, though."

While competition in the space is fierce, analysts say a clear leader has yet to emerge. "Like just about every other consumer electronics and computing device, [vendors] are looking for the right combination of specs, software, user interface and experience, distribution, style and brand," Gaw said.

Most of the SOHO/low-end SMB storage products hitting the market have similar features, give or take one or two depending on the product in question. For instance, NetGear's ReadyNAS and Iomega's StorCenter NAS offer integration with cloud data backup services, not a feature HP offers with the X500 series. But Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Mark Peters said the race for consumer/prosumer dollars will probably come down to brand recognition.

"Cars are all pretty much the same in a similar way -- almost all have four doors, a two-and-a-half liter engine, maybe a GPS or a socket for your iPod," he said. "Usually people pick based on liking the brand, and I think this is where HP might have an advantage."

X3000 -- new bundles for the channel

Slightly higher up on the SMB storage food chain, HP's X3000 NAS gateways, based on Windows Storage Server 2008, are being offered in bundles with high-availability failover features and bundled Fibre Channel storage capacity.

The X3410 includes one gateway node with 2 GB memory, a SATA-based MSA2312sa disk array that can support up to 12 TB, and an HP SCO8Ge HBA. The X3420 offers dual HA nodes with the MSA array and HP HBA. The X3820 has 12 GB of RAM and includes a dual controller Fibre Channel-based MSA2312fc, as well as a HP 82E 8 Gb dual-port FC HBA. The products are available today starting at $9,999.

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