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HP plots virtualization course with merger close to approval

With the merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq closer than ever, HP has unveiled its "global virtualization strategy." The two companies are pushing their respective storage products hard despite the looming merger.

Two heads are usually better than one, but when it comes to the different ways of thinking between Hewlett-Packard Co.'s, and Compaq Computer Corp.'s respective storage businesses a dual personality can cause confusion.

HP has unveiled a new storage virtualization appliance called the HP StorageApps SV3000, which, according to the company, heralds the HP "global virtualization strategy." While early last month, Compaq outlined its own strategy for appliance-based storage management built around its SANworks management software. The pair of product announcements begs the question -- which strategy and products will a merged HP/Compaq commit to?

"HP's strategy focuses on increasing the role of virtualization in storage infrastructures in the future," said Genevieve Sullivan, marketing manager for HP's storage virtualization solutions.

Sullivan was unable to comment on how HP and Compaq's storage virtualization technology would mesh if the merger is successful, but maintained that there is a need for software to understand application requirements for more efficient storage mapping, as well as the need for virtualization technology to reside in the storage fabric.

"I think this announcement might cause a significant amount of confusion about where different kinds of virtualization can be leveraged by customers," said Jamie Gruener, senior analyst, enterprise computing and networking for the Boston-based Yankee Group.

"They're misfiring a little bit here in their approach. I think there are some territory wars going on around how their virtualization strategy will be rolled out," he said.

Gruener added that the timing of new product announcements might prove confusing for customers in the process of evaluating products from in comparison to HP's.

But, the flip side is that both companies have to operate at full speed and remain competitive in the marketplace until the day that the merger vote is officially approved.

"The timing is odd, there is no question about that," said Mike Karp, senior analyst for Boulder, Colo.-headquartered Enterprise Management Associates. "The various groups are trying not to get distracted by the merger, but they've got some serious weeding to do in their software offerings."

HP has beefed up its StorageApps virtualization appliance with improved hardware redundancy, replication capabilities, support for the Linux OS and support for EMC Symmetrix and Compaq StorageWorks arrays. The SV3000 is also iSCSI ready and allows for one to many mirroring for Fibre Channel and IP.

The HP StorageApps SV3000 is expected to be available in May for a street price of $125,500.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor


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