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

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"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.



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