HP's 'All-in-One' Storage Family

Wednesday Jul 26th 2006 by Clint Boulton
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The computer systems maker will deliver a simplified networked storage packages for SMBs.

In September HP will introduce a new family of devices designed to make networked storage easy to manage for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

HP executives declined to provide the specifics typically associated with storage array launches, including the formal product name, pricing or other metrics, such as capacity limits and data throughput speeds. But officials described what the boxes will do, which seems to be a little bit of everything.

Debbie Young, worldwide marketing manager for HP's StorageWorks division, said HP is creating machines with all of the bells and whistles of a networked storage device, minus the costs and implementation challenges.

Young said the new arrays, which could cost as little as $5,000 for one terabyte of storage, will let administrators share data between servers. For example, admins will be able to pipe data from application servers such as Microsoft Exchange to external storage devices without assigning new disks to each application.

The shared storage approach, based on Microsoft Windows file servers, will also help companies avoid buying a new server or implementing a Fibre Channel storage area network SAN.

Because data protection is also high on customers' priority lists, Young said HP is tuning the new products to handle disk-based data snapshots — single copies of data — that run hourly or daily. Previously, SMBs had to rely on tape backup for each server, which could lead to extended backup windows and other delays.

The box will also be self-contained with a load of new management software to automate administrative and maintenance functions, a boon for small IT staffs. These types of "all-in-one" functionality are a big deal for SMBs, which typically don't have the level of expertise on their often bare-bones IT staffs to set up complex storage networks, HP said.

Why is HP focusing its energy on such machines? Young said customers have asked HP for such an inclusive networked storage device that can expand depending on data needs, is easy to manage and integrates with existing infrastructure.

She said that while the storage market for SMBs is growing dramatically, some 60 percent to 70 percent of small companies are still not moving to networked storage. Rather, they are sticking with direct-attached storage DAS) because it is easier to implement and to understand.

Most admins understand mailboxes, databases, file sharing and printers. Storage logical unit numbers LUNs, virtual arrays, backup software and volumes are often out of most admins' range of expertise, Young explained.

"Networked storage is still too complex," Young said. "You need an MBA to make a simple move to networked storage today."

Cost is also a significant factor. Companies that try to run as lean machines can't spend $20,000 or more on a networked storage system. Young said SMB customers want storage systems in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

Market demand is a big driver, and HP is intent on delivering the goods. The Palo Alto, Calif., company wants to maintain its lofty position in the SMB storage niche, where it competes with IBM, EMC and Network Appliance among others.

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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