HP launches SMB storage line

By Kevin Komiega

—For most of us, the term "all-in-one" invokes the image of a device that performs some combination of printing, imaging, and fax functions. You probably have one in your home office. But Hewlett-Packard is out to change what small and medium-sized business (SMB) users perceive as an all-in-one device to include network storage with this week's launch of HP's StorageWorks All-in-One (AiO) line of storage systems.

The new boxes feature integrated NAS and iSCSI SAN capabilities and a suite of data-protection software managed through a single user interface—at less than $5,000 for a 1TB configuration. Beyond the hardware, HP claims it has made deploying and migrating to network storage as easy as setting up a printer.

According to Debbie Young, worldwide marketing manager for SMB solutions in HP's StorageWorks division, SMB users understand the benefits of moving to network storage and the costs involved, but that's not why HP says an estimated 60% of SMBs still use direct-attached storage.

"The biggest inhibitor to SMB adoption is that network storage is still too complex for them," says Young. "Most SMBs are working at the application level with Microsoft Office applications. Setting up LUNs and configuring RAID sets is an entirely different world to them."

HP claims its management interface, the All-in-One Storage Manager, lets customers set up shared storage for Exchange and SQL Server environments and begin actively serving files, expanding data areas, implementing disk and tape backup policies, and creating file shares in less than 30 minutes via a series of setup wizards.

Dianne McAdam, director of enterprise information assurance for the Clipper Group research and consulting firm, says HP's new approach to SMB storage is a step in the right direction.

"Too many times you see dumb-down enterprise products for the SMB market, but they usually end up with a complicated storage product with holes in it. That's not the way to go," says McAdam. "HP started from the ground level to make sure you don't have to know how to configure storage."

The HP AiO systems run Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 and include support for iSCSI..

A full version of HP StorageWorks Data Protector Express Software is integrated into the All-in-One systems to enable backup and recovery to and from tape, virtual tape, optical, or external disk. The AiO systems also use the built-in data movement features of Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 to replicate data from one system to another for disaster recovery purposes.

SMB customers can choose from a range of capacity points across two models—the AiO400 and AiO600.

A StorageWorks AiO400 with four Serial ATA (SATA) drive bays and 1TB of capacity is priced from $5,000. The StorageWorks AiO600 comes in both rack and tower form factors with six SATA or Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drive bays for capacities ranging from 876GB (SAS) to 3TB (SATA). Pricing ranges from $6,700 to $9,250.

HP is competing with other major vendors for SMB storage dollars. For example, EMC and Intel announced a partnership earlier this year under which Intel is selling a line of entry-level storage arrays based on EMC's Clariion AX150 disk arrays.

And more recently, Network Appliance made its move into SMB storage with the launch of the StoreVault S500, which supports NAS, iSCSI SAN, and Fibre Channel SAN connectivity. The goal is to combine iSCSI, SAN, and NAS into a single storage pool and make it manageable from a single Windows-based user interface.

NetApp's S500 scales to 6TB and can be configured with either 250GB or 500GB SATA drives. The array supports Microsoft's iSCSI Software Initiator for IP SAN connectivity. The system can also use Silverback Systems' iSNAP2110 iSCSI host bus adapter (HBA) card to boost throughput in IP SAN environments.

NetApp's S500 is priced at $5,000 for a 1TB configuration, similar to HP's StorageWorks All-in-One array.

This article was originally published on September 21, 2006