HP, Compaq Storage Products: Which Made the Cut?


One day after the new Hewlett-Packard was launched, the new HP Network Storage Solutions Group was unveiled, with executives offering a wide view of how they intend to handle the multiple storage product lines between the number one and number four vendors in the disk storage market.

Mark Lewis, head of worldwide marketing and solutions for NSS at HP, started with the group's new online storage portfolio. Both Compaq's high-end Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) and HP's XP Virtual Array will survive.

XP, which HP resells from Hitachi Data Systems, is a monolithic product that has been taking away market share from EMC, whose Symmetrix line had been a dominant enterprise player in the late 90s. EVA is a modular product that, unlike XP, does not have mainframe connectivity.

"There is just too much of a market for both," says Lewis. "We believe both products have a customer base. Both have similar features and functions."

On the midrange side, HP plans to develop a new EVA that eventually will replace Compaq's Enterprise Modular Array (EMA) and HP's Virtual Array (VA). Executives stressed the phase-outs will be about two or three years down the road.

"Both [the VA and EMA will continue for a reasonable period of time," says Lewis.

Arun Taneja, an analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group, says it's understandable that Compaq's midrange architecture will survive since the company has one of the best midrange storage devices on the market. Merging those two products makes sense for technology reasons as well. For the most part, RAID controllers in the midrange are standardized so combining two products generally does not impact the applications.

"You can't make that statement in the high-end," Taneja says.

The EVA midrange product will be extended down the entry level, while the current Virtual Array7100 and Modular Storage Array1000 will be phased out, within two to three years.

Analysts say both HP and Compaq don't have strong midrange or high-end NAS products, a market that is largely dominated by EMC and Network Appliance. Lewis says the plan is to design a virtualization file system that will reside on a Compaq Proliant server appliance. That means the HP SureStore NAS/XP and Compaq's Executor7000 will coexist for a while before the NAS/SAN convergence takes hold.

"Neither company has a barn-burning NAS product," Taneja says. "They can use a strong midrange and high-end product."

But HP wins out in near-line storage that includes tape. Customers can continue to count on DLT, SDLT and LTO Ultrium tape drives and libraries. Meanwhile, Compaq's StorageWorks tape libraries for the midrange and enterprise will move to the entry-level market.

Executives say the plan for software is to keep both SANLink and VersStor, for the time being, because there is a customer need for both. SANLink is an in-band virtualization technology that HP inherited when it acquired startup StorageApps. VersaStor, on the other hand, is Compaq's baby. The out of band solution has been in development for months. A complicated technology to develop, out of band virtualization ultimately has fewer latency issues. The product now is in beta testing at Microsoft and is scheduled for release at the end of the year. Lewis says they hope to eventually incorporate some SANLink functions into VersaStor, but analysts question if that will be done.

"They are coming at the [technology from two different sides," says Taneja.

As far as backup, HP's OmniBack II will be the strategic platform. But the new HP will continue to partners with the likes of Veritas Software, Legato, Computer Associates and CommVault. But HP's OpenView Storage Area Management (SAM0) suite will lead the overall software, although it will work with some Compaq Storage Resource Manager capabilities.

The merger makes the new HP the top vendor for disk storage systems, according to Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. Numbers released in November 2001 listed Compaq as the leader, with $4.4 billion in revenues and 18.2 percent of the market. EMC was second, with $3.7 billion and 15.6 percent of the market. HP was fourth, with $1.9 billion in revenue and 8.1 percent market share.

HP now has more than 26 percent of the internal and external storage market.

"For the next 18 months, customers are going to be fraught with issues," Taneja says. "At the very least, there is going to be emotional discomfort. HP has to finesse its way out of that."