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6/19/2007
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HP's Storage & Security Blitz

HP pushes products out en masse, but is it enough to breathe life into its storage business?

HP has taken the wraps off a slew of storage products at its Tech Forum event in Las Vegas, unveiling thin provisioning technology, EVA products, and a host of security offerings. (See HP Intros Secure Advantage and HP Cuts Power & Cooling.)

The vendor bulked up its EVA family today with the launch of the 4100, 6100, and 8100 arrays, which it claims offer a 24 percent performance boost compared to previous EVA offerings. (See HP Plans HW/SW Upgrades.)

As well as hardware enhancements, HP execs on a conference call last night also touted a form of Windows-based thin provisioning called Dynamic Capacity Management (DCM), which they are pushing as a way for firms to get more out of their EVAs. "What we're announcing is a technology that recognizes how much data you have inside the LUNs," said Mark Gonzalez, HP's vice president of enterprise storage and server sales. "You don't have to buy as much storage as you had to before."

Thin provisioning, which aims to ensure that physical disk capacity is used only as it is needed, is a hot topic for many storage vendors. (See 3PAR Debuts 'Thin Provisioning', Pillar Pushes Provisioning, Capacity, Thin Is Definitely In, and A Data Reduction Dossier.) Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing at HP's StorageWorks division told Byte and Switch that DCM could also slash firms' disk costs. "Disk prices decrease between 5 and 8 percent on a quarterly basis, so, if you can push disk purchases out by six months, you could save about 16 percent [in costs]," he contends.

At least one analyst was less than impressed by HP's EVA hype. "Ok, so we have a slight performance enhancement, but where is the 4-Gig back end? Where is the enhanced cache?" asks Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group. "The EVA has been a good product for HP, but how much longer can they stretch it before they really refresh it?"

Even thin provisioning is not exactly a silver bullet. Despite a flurry of activity from vendors, users have yet to throw their weight behind the technology, which HP admits. (See The Skinny on Thin Provisioning.) "People will want to dip their toes into thin provisioning," says Eitenbichler. "I definitely think that there will be lots of demand over time, but initially they will want to test it out."

Pricing for the EVAs, which are available today, starts at around $35,000, although users looking to sample thin provisioning will be in for a wait. The DCM feature will not be shipped until the fourth quarter, although HP told Byte and Switch that this will be part of the overall cost of the array. The software will also be offered as a free software upgrade to existing EVA users, according to Eitenbichler.

Initially, this will include EVA 4000, 6000, and 8000s, although Eitenbichler says 3000 and 5000 devices will eventually be added to this mix.

The EVA remains one of the strongest performers in HP's storage portfolio, hence this renewed focus on the platform. Revenues from the array rose 10 percent in HP's most recent set of quarterly results, despite ongoing weaknesses in its tape and high-end storage divisions. (See HP's Storage Slowdown, HP Storage Gets off the Deck, HP's Relevant Again, and EVA Qualifies ATTO iSCSI Initiator.)

HP also used its Las Vegas event to crank up its security strategy, unveiling the Ultrium 1840, an LTO-4 tape drive with AES 256-bit hardware encryption. "[Users] can now use the LTO-4 drives to encrypt directly to tape as they write," says Eitenbichler.

The tape drive, which will be available August 1, is priced at $5,199 for an external storage model and $4,999 for an internal version.

Another security product announced today is the Compliance Log Warehouse, an appliance built on technology from SenSage for collecting and analyzing log data for compliance reports. (See SenSage Included in HP Appliance, New Rules May Ease SOX Audits, Medical Center Deploys Brocade, and Users Self-Destruct on Governance.) Pricing for the Warehouse, which is available now, starts at $75,000.

Other products unveiled in Sin City include Identity Center, a family of identity management software covering password management, access control, and single sign-on. Identity Center is also available now, with pricing dependent on the number of users covered.

HP also fleshed out its tape story today. This included the launch of the Ultrium 448c, a tape blade for the vendor's BladeSystem c-Class chassis, and the 160 Gbyte DAT 160 tape drive, which HP claims can offer double the capacity of other DAT drives. (See HP Brandishes Blades, HP Unveils Fast Blade, and HP Adds Storage Blade.)

Both the Ultrium 448c and the DAT 160 are available now, priced at $1,999 and $899, respectively.

Storage has been something of a sore point in HP's recent financials, although the vendor launched a major shakeup of its storage division earlier this year in an attempt to get back on track. (See HP's New Unit Meant to Spur Storage, HP Reshuffles More Software, and HP Rethinks Storage Plays.)

Despite today's flurry of announcements, StorageIO Group's Schulz warns that there is still plenty of work to do. "HP can put together a good story, but they struggle trying to tell the story," he says, adding that the vendor needs to do a better job of communicating with users.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)
  • SenSage Inc.
  • The StorageIO Group

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