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HP stays the course in the high end

The way HP does high-end storage won't be changing any time soon. The company said it will resell Hitachi Data Systems' 9900 arrays under the HP StorageWorks brand for the next five years.

Hewlett-Packard Co. won't be changing the way it does high-end storage any time soon. The company announced Wednesday that it will continue its reseller agreement with and Hitachi Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, storage partnership for five more years. HP, Palo Alto, Calif., will OEM Hitachi Data Systems' (HDS) 9900 series storage arrays as the HP StorageWorks Disk Array XP family through 2008. The companies are prepping new versions of the product and "investigating" ways to add new features.

HP said the partnership extension is a signal to existing customers. "We want to assure them that we, and this product, are around for the long haul," Pete Korce, director of HP's Online Storage Division.

Korce would not provide many details, but said HP is working with HDS on the next generation of the XP array and further software integration is possible where it "makes sense."

HP announced one new option for the XP called the HP StorageWorks Multi-Site Disaster Tolerant Solution, which combines software, networking, hardware and services.

With the disaster recovery service, HP provides mirrored XP arrays in two data centers close to user sites and a third array in an "out of region" data center. HP's software uses the XP's underlying remote copy feature for local, synchronous mirroring and long distance, asynchronous mirroring to create redundancy and failover capabilities in case of a local disaster.

In an effort to make moving data over distances an affordable option, HDS plans to deliver an iSCSI blade for its Lightning 9900V storage system later this year that will run Hitachi's TrueCopy disk-replication software over IP networks. HP said it will support the iSCSI blade in the XP array.

It's no surprise that HP is sticking with HDS. HP said it has sold approximately 4,000 XP arrays since its partnership with Hitachi in May --> 99. Each system carries a price tag between $500,000 and $1,000,000.

Jack Scott, a managing partner with the Greenwood Village, Colo., analyst firm Evaluator Group Inc., said HP, Sun Microsystems and HDS have all been pushing Hitachi's 9900 class machines in the server consolidation market, but HP has a leg up in the market because it "offers more meaningful software" than Sun and HDS. The HP XP family combines Hitachi's high-end disk array technology with HP-developed software, solutions and services.

Scott said HP doesn't want to develop its own high-end monolithic storage array because the development and testing costs outweigh the projected cost to buy the machines on an OEM basis.

"Today, HP wants to invest its time and money into software development and professional services. I don't see that changing any time soon," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail: Kevin Komiega, News Editor

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