HP sharpens storage vision


Hewlett-Packard says it has put lingering organization and marketing issues behind it with the recent launch of its Federated Storage Area Management (FSAM) strategy and preliminary product set. The announcement-the first in a series expected to come out of the company's reorganized networked storage solutions organization (NSSO)-is based on the concept of "federated storage."

"We're taking a much more focused 'solutions' approach [than we used to]," says Nora Denzel, vice president and general manager of HP's NSSO. "We now have one storage organization, versus six separate groups."

Denzel says HP is positioning itself to achieve $7 billion to $10 billion in storage-related revenue by 2003. In February, HP reported $1 billion in revenue from sales of its SureStore XP disk arrays-enough to boost the company's overall position in the external RAID market to third, according to International Data Corp.

FSAM is about delivering solutions and technologies to manage the unpredictable nature of today's storage re-quirements, explains Denzel. "It's a network of modular storage appliances, which when integrated with storage area management software, systems, and services, creates a scalable environment of federated [or networked] storage resources," she says.

HP's FSAM strategy is network-focused, enabling users to scale up and out in the same foot- and people-print.
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Put simply, a network-centric approach like FSAM allows for many-to-many (host-to-storage) connectivity, compared to many-to-one connectivity for storage-centric or one-to-one connectivity for server-centric approaches, and it is nonproprietary in nature. "It's a distributed environment with mainframe characteristics," says Denzel.

With the ability to consolidate disparate storage systems under a centralized management console, FSAM will reportedly lead to a tenfold increase in storage scale with the same "people-print," or the number of people required to manage a storage environment. This projection, HP claims, is based on data from industry research firms, which estimates the average managed storage capacity per administrator to be 100GB to 500GB in server-centric storage environments, 1TB in storage-centric infrastructures, and 100TB in network-centric models.

Toward that goal, HP has begun to as-semble key FSAM software and hardware components. First products include the HP Network Storage Appliance, the HP OpenView Storage Area Manager suite, and the HP SureStore Virtual Array 7100.

This configuration is not unlike SAN appliances, at least from a storage area network (SAN) perspective, says John Webster, a senior analyst with Illuminata, a research and consulting firm in Nashua, NH. "FSAM sits in the middle of the cloud between the hosts and storage devices, with management control off to the side."

This type of model, according to Web-ster, is becoming a preferred method of SAN virtualization among leading system vendors, including Compaq and IBM.

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"Basically, you have data going over the I/O path and then off to the side you have a SAN appliance that acts as the command control, or metadata engine," explains Webster. While proponents of this type of approach say separating the metadata from the I/O path optimizes SAN performance, opponents claim that it actually degrades performance because the I/O is left waiting for the metadata engine to decide what to do, he says.

In the HP model, the Network Storage Appliance serves as the SAN appliance, or metadata engine. It controls access to files and the I/O path within the SAN. File-access communication is done over the IP network, while data moves over the SAN (see "Start your metadata engines!", InfoStor, November 2000, p. 90).

HP expects to begin shipping the Network Storage Appliance this quarter. The appliance, which lists from $175,000, features SCSI/Fibre Channel connectivity, multi-host support, disk management, and tape backup. Management of the device and the SAN environment is enabled by HP OpenView Storage Area Manager. A blend of new and old technologies, this five-piece, Windows-based suite provides single-pane view and management of heterogeneous storage networks (see chart).

"This is a rich set of tools," says Carolyn DiCenzo, a chief analyst for Gartner Group/Datquest. "OpenView Storage Optimizer, for example, is the first product to be released that addresses SAN performance, not just availability, and while there are several [competitive products] in the market today, OpenView Storage Builder, [with its resource planning capabilities,] rounds out the HP suite."

Other components include HP OpenView Storage Node Manager (formerly SAN Manager DM), HP OpenView Storage Allocater (formerly SAN Manager LM), and HP OpenView OmniBack II. The suite, which HP expects to begin shipping this month, lists for $24,000. Support for policy management, fault management, data management, and file sharing will be added gradually over the next two years.

As for its new disk array, HP says it enables virtualization in two layers. All the geometry at the disk level is transparent and its management within the SAN has been virtualized, explains Don Kleinschnitz, general manager of scalable networked solutions for HP's networked storage solutions organization.

The array also features 1Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity, simultaneous heterogeneous array sharing in HP-UX, Windows NT/2000, and Linux environments, AutoRAID technology, and 1TB/sq2 of storage capacity. A single array with one controller, 256MB of cache, and four 18GB disk drives is priced at $29,927. Shipments began this month.

Future FSAM products include HP SureStore shared file services (due late this year), HP SureStore iSCSI appliance (demo late this year), and HP OpenView data management appliance (early 2002).

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Nora Denzel

This article was originally published on April 01, 2001