HP Tackles SMB Storage Biz With New MSA, StoreEasy NAS Products

Hewlett-Packard on Monday expanded its push into the SMB storage market with the introduction of its new HP Simply StoreIT program, and updates to its MSA midrange storage array and HP StoreEasy NAS appliance lines.

HP's introduction of the HP MSA 2040 storage system also marks a renewed emphasis on the MSA moniker three years after HP rebranded the MSA line with the P2000 name.

The HP MSA 2040 is getting a major performance and data migration upgrade, said Brad Marks, senior manager for go-to-market strategy at HP.

[Related: Storage-Focused Vendors Continue Grabbing Bigger Share Of Storage Market: Gartner ]

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"We are bringing a level of performance down into the entry SAN space at a price which hasn't been seen before, and making it possible for partners to see new customer opportunities," Marks said.

The HP MSA 2040 is the first SMB storage array to support 16-Gbps Fibre Channel and 10-Gbit iSCSI connectivity via the same controller out of the gate, Marks said.

The storage system also offers a data in-place upgrade that allows customers of the existing StorageWorks P2000 G3 MSA System, also known as the MSA 2000 G3, to migrate data to the MSA 2040 just by physically moving the disks to the new system for an instant performance update, he said.

The HP MSA 2040 is set to launch in July with pricing beginning at $11,470 with dual controllers.

HP on Monday also unveiled a software upgrade to its HP StoreEasy NAS appliance, which was introduced last fall. The HP StoreEasy line is based on HP's ProLiant Gen8 server platform and Microsoft's Windows Storage Server operating system.

The software enhancements for the HP StoreEasy include the addition of block deduplication to reduce total capacity required for data sets by up to 60 percent, Marks said.

Also new for the HP StoreEasy is encryption of the data on the array, support for multiple nodes in a cluster configuration with auto failover for high availability, centralized management, and simplified installation and configuration, he said.

HP seems to be pushing aggressively against EMC's VNX and VNXe SMB SAN platforms, said Asif Hudani, senior vice president of IT services and solutions at Zones, an Auburn, Wash.-based solution provider and partner to both HP and EMC.

NEXT: Stepping Up The Value Of The MSA Line

"HP is bringing it out with aggressive pricing and new management capabilities," Hudani said. "Midmarket storage is a fast-growing business. HP has not been real strong in this market, but it is growing fast."

Hudani said HP's return to an emphasis on the MSA name is a good move after a few years of redefining its storage line with multiple acquisitions, including HP 3PAR enterprise line and the HP StoreVirtual line of virtual storage appliances from LeftHand.

"MSA still has a big name value, and so it's easy for HP to rebrand its storage with that name," he said. "This seems squarely aimed at people who know the MSA line. If someone is not familiar with MSA, they probably won't really care about the name one way or the other."

Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and HP partner, said HP has taken a big step in upgrading the MSA with the new model.

"It's one of the first 16-Gbit Fibre Channel arrays from any vendor, and its performance and scalability are much higher than previous models," Baldwin said. "It's not going to go unnoticed."

Baldwin said he is surprised that HP would rename the line with the MSA name and not "Store-something."

"HP has StoreIT, StoreEasy, StoreServ, StoreVirtual, StoreOnce," he said. "They come up with a universal 'Store' name. It can be hard to keep them straight. But then the MSA name has been around for a long time. If you go back to the MSA 1000, that's 10 or 15 years now."

HP on Monday also introduced the HP Simply StoreIT storage channel program as part of a $1.5 billion investment the company is making in the channel this year, said Shannah Thompson, HP's worldwide channel marketing and enablement manager.

HP Simply StoreIT, launched in conjunction with HP's storage distribution partners, includes several elements aimed at helping partners map customer needs to solutions and not merely products, Thompson said.

The first element is improved engagement planning, including more joint business planning with solution providers and providing distributors the tools to better engage with their solution provider customers, she said.

HP also is using a series of roadshows and training events to reach 5,000 partner personnel and help them reach out to customers, Thompson said.

Also new is a demand generation program combined with a focus on name-brand recognition that will result in new storage leads HP will pass to partners.

In addition, HP is providing a mixture of new rebates and discounts to both partner organizations and individual sales reps for selling SMB-focused solutions instead of point products, she said.