HP To Unveil Smaller EVA Array, Faster Ultrium, More Storage Software

An HP channel partner said that HP next week will introduce the next model in its Compaq-legacy EVA array aimed at smaller clients than its current model. The partner, who asked not to be named, speculated that the move is related to HP's plan to consolidate its midrange and entry-level storage business onto the EVA platform, unveiled when HP and Compaq merged earlier this year.

An HP spokesperson confirmed that the vendor will offer such an array, but denied speculation that it is the next stage in HP's roadmap to move its midrange storage business to the EVA.

Instead, the new EVA, for which HP has not planned a press event, is still an enterprise-class machine, the spokesperson said. However, the maximum number of drives has been cut to 28, down from the current maximum of 84 drives for the company's EVA 2C2D model, in order to bring it in at a lower price point, said the spokesperson.

HP, based here, is also expected to unveil the first commercial availability of the next generation of Ultrium tape drives and media, HP officials said. The Ultrium 460 drives can pack 400 Gbytes on to a cartridge at 60 Mbytes per second compressed, resulting in a throughput of 216 Gbytes per hour, the officials said.

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The aim of HP's new software enhancements is to make it easier for business administrators to control the costs of storage, while allowing storage specialists to more easily provide storage as needed, said Don Langeberg, director of marketing for HP network storage solutions.

The first product, Storage Provisioner, allows automatic provisioning and configuration of storage to reduce the time needed to bring in new storage capacity while reducing the amount of new capacity needed, Langeberg said.

The process of provisioning storage manually can take up to 100 steps, but by automating the process can be done in only one step, said Langeberg. This cuts human error and system disruption as well as the risks associated with manual, repetitive tasks, he said.

The second product, the Continuous Access Storage Appliance (CASA), allows data to be replicated and migrated between arrays from multiple vendors, Langeberg said. An extension of the company's SV3000 virtualization appliance, CASA has new capabilities that include asynchronous write ordering to allow high-speed asynchronous data movement, cascading to allow campus-wide configurations, new clustering support including HP-UX and fail-over in AIX environments, and support for NetWare 5.1 and 6 environments, he said.

"This helps customers avoid vendor lock-in," said Langeberg. For mirroring, it is not necessary to purchase a second like array. For example, if a customer has an EMC Symmetrix, we hope they buy (an HP) EVA for replication."

The third software product, Storage Media Operations, allows the automatic tracking and managing of data storage media, including tape cartridges, optical disks, and, as they become common, removable hard drives, Langeberg said. Such an application manages both on-site and off-site media as part of data retention and media recycling policies.

Carl Wolfston, director of Headlands Associates, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based solution provider, called storage provisioning a circle back to mainframe timesharing.

Wolfston also said that HP, IBM, Sun and other major vendors have all said they automate storage provisioning, but he has yet to see customers do it. "And hardware is so cheap, customers feel why spend money on software to get more capacity," he said.

However, HP has been doing very well in terms of storage virtualization with its SV3000 appliance, said Wolfston. "It's great for disaster recovery and data replication," he said.

Wolfston also said the new Ultrium drives will give Super DLT a run for its money. "DLT's best is 40 Mbytes per second," he said. "If you are backing up Tbytes of data, 60 Mbytes per second vs. 40 Mbytes per second is significant."

The new storage software products will be available next week. A management appliance with Storage Provisioner and up to 2 Tbytes of capacity is priced about $20,000. A CASA license for up to 20 dual-connected hosts and four arrays is $122,500. An entry-level, one-server license for Storage Media Operations is priced at $8,400.