HP enters new markets

By Dave Simpson

-- At its Americas StorageWorks Conference this week in Las Vegas, Hewlett-Packard announced the "biggest storage launch in the history of our company," according to Ann Livermore, executive vice president in HP's technology solutions group. Although the dozens of product announcements included some expected "refreshes," more notable was the company's entry into new markets with some unexpected partners, including PolyServe, Riverbed, and Sepaton.

For example, taking aim at EMC and Network Appliance, HP entered the high-end NAS market for the first time with the Enterprise File Services (EFS) Clustered Gateway, which combines standard ProLiant DL380 server hardware with clustered file system software (File Serving Solution) from PolyServe. Also referred to as a global file system, the software provides global namespace capability (the file system spans all NAS nodes in the cluster) and provides a single system image that enables administrators to manage all nodes in a cluster as if they were one system--a feature that may differentiate HP from EMC and NetApp, at least for the time being, according to analysts.

HP is also taking on the two high-end NAS market leaders on the performance and price front. For example, Harry Baeverstad, director of HP's StorageWorks NAS division, claims up to a 10x performance advantage with a 16-node cluster with prices that in some configurations are 33% to 50% less than similar-capacity NAS servers from EMC and Network Appliance. The EFS Clustered Gateway scales from a two-node cluster to a 16-node cluster that provides throughput of 2.8GBps and fail-over times of less than one second, claims Baeverstad.

The Linux-based (SuSE 9.0) NAS gateway supports NFS, but does not yet support CIFS in a clustered configuration with the global file system. Features include support for 512 Linux file systems and more than 8 petabytes of capacity.

Pricing starts at $30,300, with a dual-node cluster configuration priced at $74,700.

WAN accelerators
In another entry into a new market, HP introduced the EFS WAN Accelerators, which are based on a hardware/software appliance from Riverbed Technology. Sometimes referred to as wide area file services (WAFS)--although HP uses the term "wide area data services"--the technology provides LAN-like file-transfer performance over latency-ridden WANs and enables companies to consolidate/centralize remote office storage at corporate data centers.

HP claims that the EFS WAN Accelerators provide up to a 20x increase in effective bandwidth and as much as a 100-fold throughput increase for file, e-mail, and Web applications and can remove 60% to 95% of repetitive traffic over a WAN.

An entry-level appliance is priced at $11,168, with a dual-node high-availability configuration priced at $42,562 with redundant power supplies and RAID.

Other vendors in the WAFS space include Cisco (via its acquisition of Actona), DiskSites, FineGround, and Tacit Networks, which recently inked an OEM deal with Brocade.

Virtual tape
HP also entered for the first time the virtual tape market with the StorageWorks 6000 Virtual Library System, which is based on software from Sepaton ("no tapes" spelled backward). Like other virtual tape libraries (VTLs), the disk-to-disk backup/recovery appliance works with existing software and backup infrastructures. HP claims aggregate throughput of 500MBps, or single-stream performance of 90MBps.

"With virtual tape you can allocate many tape drives to a server without having physical drives available," explains Bob Wilson, vice president of nearline storage in HP's StorageWorks division, "and the software writes to disk in tape format."

Based on an HP MSA 20 disk array with Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives, an entry-level VLS6105 is priced from $29,103 with 2.5TB (scalable to 5TB) and two Fibre Channel ports. A VLS6510 model with four Fibre Channel ports and 5TB to 10TB of capacity is priced from $57,194.

Welcome back, STK
HP also (re)-added StorageTek to its roster of tape library suppliers with the addition of the Enterprise Modular Library (EML) E-Series of libraries, which are based on StorageTek's SL500 tape libraries. (Quantum replaced StorageTek about three years ago as HP's high-end tape library supplier.) In HP's tape library lineup, the EML sits between the low-end MSL series (OEM'd from Overland Storage) and the high-end ESL series (OEM'd from Quantum).

Billed as an "entry-level enterprise" tape library, the EML E-Series scales from 103 to 440 LTO tape cartridges. Pricing starts at $37,000 for a 103-slot version with up to four drives; a configuration with 245 slots and up to eight tape drives is priced at $65,000.

At the Americas StorageWorks Conference this week, a number of analysts noted that HP's heavy partnering seemed to run contrary to its "invent" slogan. "Invent doesn't have to mean re-invent," responded Bob Schulz, senior vice president and general manager of StorageWorks.

EVA upgrades
Also at this week's conference, HP re-hauled its venerable Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) line of midrange disk arrays with the addition of the EVA 4000, 6000, and 8000. Most notably, the new EVA arrays provide approximately a doubling of performance (via new controllers and additional cache) and capacity (up to 70TB) over previous EVA subsystems. Analysts say that the three-product lineup fills the performance/capacity/price gaps that existed with HP's previous lineup of the EVA 3000 and 5000, giving the company a better matchup against midrange disk arrays from competitors such as EMC and IBM.

The announcements mark the first major refresh of the EVA line since the introduction of the EVA 3000 and 5000 in mid-2003.

Analysts say that the new EVA arrays will improve HP's competitive positioning in the midrange array market versus competitors such as EMC, to which HP has been losing market share. For example, EMC's share of the overall external array market grew from 20.6% in 2003 to 22.6% in 2004 while HP's share slipped from 18.6% to 16.5%, according to Gartner Inc.

Missing from the EVA upgrades was support for 4Gbps Fibre Channel, which HP plans to add later this year. Disk arrays based on 4Gbps Fibre Channel are currently available from vendors such as Engenio and its resellers, including StorageTek and Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI).

HP also rolled out a new version of its Command View Software Suite, which works across the EVA product line, as well as a related tool to analyze performance of EVA arrays and enhanced local/remote replication capabilities.

Also on the software front, HP previewed the next steps in its integration of server and storage management (see HP to unify server and storage management ) and rolled out an ILM Services Framework that encompasses seven information life-cycle management (ILM) services.

A longer report on HP's announcements will appear in the June print issue of InfoStor.

This article was originally published on May 17, 2005