New HP Details Storage Product And Branding Road Map

Hewlett-Packard Compaq Computer

HP is making tough decisions up front around what it wants to do with the lines, said Mark Lewis, a Compaq and DEC veteran who is now head of worldwide marketing and solutions for the new HP's Network Storage Solutions Group.

"[This is so we can give our customers very clear direction, literally out for the next three years, in terms of what our plans are," Lewis said.

In high-end arrays, HP will continue to offer the four models in its XP family, which it OEMs from Hitachi Data Systems, and the Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family, inherited with the Compaq acquisition.

Lewis said the XP family offers a monolithic, consolidated architecture with mainframe connectivity, while the EVA offers a more modular and modern type of architecture aimed at improved upward and downward scalability across open systems. HP has no plans to add mainframe connectivity to EVA arrays.

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"We believe those are both enterprise-class products, but serving different needs in the market," he said.

Lewis said HP is setting guidelines on how to position its two enterprise storage lines and is in the process of training its sales staff on that positioning.

In midrange arrays, HP plans to continue and evolve the heritage HP VA family and Compaq EMA family of arrays. However, over the next year or two HP will position the Compaq EVA product line as the next-generation midrange platform, Lewis said.

In the entry-level market, HP will adopt Compaq's DTS (direct-attach to SAN) migration technology, which enables hard drives attached to a server to be pulled out of their current boxes and added to a SAN, Lewis said. DTS not only allows the disks to be moved to the SAN, but also the data and even the RAID information.

In entry-level products, HP will focus will on Compaq's MSA 1000 line, mainly because HP has adopted Compaq's ProLiant line of industry-standard Windows-based servers. HP will continue to support the HP heritage entry-level storage line for at least the next 18 months, Lewis said.

Over the next two to three years, HP plans to consolidate its entire enterprise, midrange and entry-level storage offerings under the Compaq EVA platform in order to make it easier for customers to consolidate their overall storage management infrastructures, Lewis said.

HP's nearline storage plans will emphasize the heritage Compaq StorageWorks line of tape libraries in the enterprise and midrange space, Lewis said. In entry-level library and autoloader products, the company will support a mix of heritage HP and Compaq products, he said.

HP will offer a choice between SDLT and LTO tape technologies. Customers may have valid business reasons to choose one over the other, Lewis said.

Contrary to what many observers thought might be a tough battle between HP's SANlink in-band virtualization strategy and Compaq's VersaStor out-of-band virtualization strategy, HP will embrace both models to offer host-based, array-based and network-based virtualization, said Mike Feinberg, CTO of the Network Storage Solutions Group.

HP has been shipping SANlink virtualization technology from its StorageApps acquisition for several months to provide a heterogeneous server and storage environment, Feinberg said. Compaq's VersaStor technology will be aimed at SAN-wide virtualization, he said. Over time, the two will be married as a single network-based virtualization offering under the VersaStor name, he said.

"I cannot tell you how complementary these offerings are," Feinberg said. "Over time, we're going to use the VersaStor technology as a brand and technology direction, and incorporate the [StorageApps SANlink offering into that technology offering."

Lewis said the VersaStor virtualization technology is still on track to go into general availability by year-end. VersaStor will initially be offered as an appliance and as a host bus adapter-based technology, but software-only and switch-based technologies are planned for the future, he said.

The storage management software strategy is to put storage management, life-cycle management and data management all under the OpenView storage management brand, Feinberg said. Compaq's storage management software technology, as well as the new company's virtualization products, will all be integrated into the OpenView brand, he said.

HP has a customer protection program for its storage management software, Lewis said. Under this program, HP has promised not drop any product that does not have a comparable or better product to replace it, he said.

As HP transitions customers to new software arising from the merger with Compaq, it will provide base licensing of the software at no extra cost, Lewis said. Customers will just continue to pay maintenance fees related to the software, he said.

HP is committed to open storage management and will continue the storage API exchange agreement signed between Compaq and EMC, despite the competition between HP and EMC in storage, Lewis said.

HP plans to leverage its Hitachi Data Systems agreement to extend its API cross-licensing program to Hitachi, allowing the company to manage storage hardware from Compaq, HP, EMC and Hitachi, Lewis said.

"And you can expect to see us announce more API agreements with other industry leaders very soon," he said. "We believe that we are the only company putting this together. HDS recently did some announcements around software, and announced a similar intent. But I think the key difference is that we are doing this today."

However, that does not mean HP will exchange HDS and EMC APIs, Lewis said. Such an arrangement would depend on those two companies, he said.

HP's approach to managed services for storage will will combine HP's Federated Storage Area Management (FSAM) and Compaq's Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA) strategies into a single plan under the ENSA name, Lewis said. The two were already about 90 percent complementary, but the ENSA name has better recognition in the market place, he said.