HP Builds On Storage Momentum With New SMB Offerings

Hewlett-Packard on Monday moved to capitalize on building momentum for its storage business with the introduction of several new storage solutions targeting SMB customers and their solution providers.

The solutions, including a new entry-level version of its venerable MSA line, a software upgrade to its StoreEasy NAS platform, and increased expandability for its StoreOnce deduplication and backup appliance, were unveiled at HP's Global Partner Conference, being held this week in Las Vegas.

The new solutions, part of the HP Simply StoreIT SMB solution program, are feeding a voracious appetite among SMB customers for enterprise-class storage, said Craig Nunes, vice president of marketing for HP storage.

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"SMBs have mission-critical apps, and are working in virtualized environments," Nunes said. "But they have SMB budgets, and may have only one or two IT generalists on staff."

HP's fourth-quarter 2013 storage sales recovered in a big way to give the company the highest growth rate of the entire industry, according to a report released earlier this month from research firm Gartner.

HP's fourth-quarter 2013 storage business grew 25.3 percent vs. the same period last year, helping it overtake Hitachi and HDS to become the fourth-largest storage vendor in the quarter at $600.7 million. That puts HP on a trajectory to possibly overtake NetApp for the No. 3 position.

HP wants to capitalize on its storage momentum and on the fast-growing SMB storage market, Nunes said. Citing IDC numbers, Nunes said the world's total entry-level SAN market last year grew 3.9 percent over 2012, while worldwide sales of SAN solutions priced from $5,000 to $10,000 grew last year by 8.4 percent.

HP is addressing that demand in three areas.

HP is tackling SMB customers' need for enterprise-class storage with the introduction of the HP MSA 1040. Targeted at the $10,000 to $25,000 storage price band, the HP MSA 1040 can be configured with up to 100 hard drives while offering 50 percent more performance at a 25 percent lower cost than previous HP MSA models, Nunes said.

The HP MSA 1040 can be upgraded to the HP MSA 2040, a higher-performance model with twice the disk capacity, by simply upgrading the controller, Nunes said. "If you are a growing business, and don't want to kick yourself for not buying the 2040, we have a data-in-place upgrade to the 2040."

NEXT: New StoreEasy NAS, StoreOnce Dedupe Intro

While introducing the new entry-level HP MSA 1040 is great news for SMB customers, it is unclear how many would actually upgrade it to the MSA 2040 over time, said Derek Kuhr, practice manager at Heartland Technology Solutions, a Harlan, Iowa-based solution provider and HP channel partner.

"Typically, when you put a new system in, it's hard to talk about future upgrades," Kuhr said. "Customers think, if it's not broke, don't fix it. But for some, it's a real plus. It lets customers upgrade storage without throwing old technology away. A lot of storage is thrown away."

Having that upgrade takes heat off the sales cycle for fast-growing smaller customers, Kuhr said. "Smaller clients like to buy just one of something," he said.

HP's StoreEasy NAS platform, which targets the $5,000 to $10,000 storage price band, is getting a major software upgrade that adds WorkFolder, a new file sync and share capability, which Nunes said is based on Microsoft technology to provide a self-installed Dropbox-like capability.

Performance of the StoreEasy NAS platform also got a boost with the adoption of the new SMB 3.02 protocol. And for companies without dedicated IT staff, the StoreEasy software now includes a new dashboard for easy monitoring of issues as well as a new configuration wizard, Nunes said.

HP is also enhancing its HP StoreOnce deduplication backup appliance with a 48-TB expansion shelf, increasing its maximum usable pre-dedupe capacity to 124 TBs compared to today's 36 TBs. "With a 10:1 or 20:1 dedupe ratio, it can now store up to 1.24 PBs to 2.48 PBs," Nunes said.

The new capacity point will help HP and its partners use the HP StoreOnce line to compete against EMC's Data Domain 2500 with comparable backup and recovery capacity and performance, but at a 40-percent lower cost, he said.

Kuhr said for his customers, which encrypt all their data, deduplication is a hard sale. "Encrypted data doesn't dedupe so well," he said. "It's all randomized. After encryption, if you are looking for 20 copies of the same Excel spreadsheet to dedupe, you won't find it."