No big storage surprises in HP-Compaq merger

By Heidi Biggar

After eight months of often less-than-friendly banter between pro- and anti-merger groups, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq united without a hitch last month. And true to its word, the new company emerged with a three-year road map that clearly delineates how the HP and Compaq product lines will be integrated over the coming months.

On the storage front, there were few surprises: The new company adopted Compaq StorageWorks (renamed HP StorageWorks) as the product name for its enterprise storage products, HP OpenView as its software brand, and Compaq Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA) as its umbrella storage architecture.

"When you look at the two company's product lines side-by-side, the real strength was Compaq StorageWorks, and it seems to be in the dominant position in the new company," says Randy Kerns, a partner with The Evaluator Group, a storage market research firm in Greenwood Village, CO.

As for overlap between the two companies' product lines, that has been dealt with, too, says Mark Lewis, head of worldwide marketing and solutions, network storage solutions, for the new HP. "We're not going to discontinue anything that doesn't have an equivalent or better alternative," he says.

HP says it will keep both companies' high-end disk array families (the HP XP and Compaq EVA) and will migrate all other disk platforms to EVA over time. HP claims that no products will be phased out for at least 12 to 18 months. The company will maintain its OEM relationship with Hitachi Data Systems, as well as Compaq's API agreement with EMC. (For a complete list of the products HP plans to keep and phase out, see table.)

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On the network-attached storage (NAS) front, the two companies' product lines will be merged into a single line with common firmware and integration. HP also plans to invest heavily in developing technologies that bring storage area networks (SANs) and NAS together—an admitted weakness for both companies.

And despite rumors to the contrary, HP maintains that it will continue to market and develop both an in-band (HP SANlink) and out-of-band (VersaStor) virtualization capability. "We looked at the option of canceling something, but decided to [move forward with both]," says Lewis. HP says it will maintain both technologies, but will consolidate the two over time.

With the merger, VersaStor becomes HP's umbrella virtualization technology, as well as a stand-alone product earmarked for the enterprise market. VersaStor is currently in beta testing with Microsoft, with general availability slated for year-end. SANlink, meanwhile, becomes the company's midrange virtualization play, specifically designed for users looking to support heterogeneous storage/servers or to migrate technology that isn't SAN-ready into a SAN. SANlink, which HP acquired when it bought StorageApps, is currently shipping.

Combined, the new HP/Compaq storage division (HP network storage solutions) has more than 5,000 employees worldwide. Heading this division is Howard Elias, former vice president and general manager, business critical server group, at Compaq.

This article was originally published on June 01, 2002