HP Seeds Storage Market With Free Virtual Storage For HP, Non-HP Servers

Hewlett-Packard said Tuesday it is bundling its HP StoreVirtual Virtual Storage Appliance with its new HP ProLiant Generation 9 Grantley-based servers.

The company is also providing its HP StoreVirtual VSA free-of-charge to all servers based the new Intel Xeon processor E5 v3-based servers regardless of vendor as a way to help introduce HP storage capabilities to a new potential customer base.

The strategy builds on a November 2013 move by HP to bundle its HP StoreVirtual VSA with the previous ProLiant Gen8 server line, said Kate Davis, worldwide marketing manager for software-defined storage at HP.

[Related: Xeon 'Grantley': 12 New Servers With Intel's Fastest Chip Yet]

Sponsored post

The HP StoreVirtual VSA includes a license for 1 TB of storage capacity, Davis told CRN.

"It's a starting point," she said. "It helps educate our sales reps, partners and customers on software-defined storage. And it gives our partners a way to engage with their customer base."

The ProLiant Gen9 server bundle with the HP StoreVirtual VSA differs from that offered for HP's ProLiant Gen9 servers in that it includes a high degree of automation thanks to HP's ProLiant Intelligent Provisioning tool, Davis said.

"As the server is booted up, the tool helps with set-up, including asking customers to choose which virtualization technology to use," she said. "If VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V is chosen, the tool asks if the customer wants shared storage. If yes, the server will boot up with shared storage."

That shared storage automatically includes a license for 1 TB free-of-charge, but customers can use the same license key to purchase more capacity, Davis said. The 1 TB of capacity in up to three ProLiant Gen9 servers can be clustered, she said.

With ProLiant Gen8 servers, customers had to log into a website, download the software, get the license and deploy it, she said.

"Now the wizard does the heavy lifting," she said.

Davis also said that customers who purchase any vendor's Intel Xeon processor E5 v3-based server can also take advantage of the HP StoreVirtual VSA, although in this case they will have to go through the same manual process used with the ProLiant Gen8 servers.

Getting customers to try the free HP StoreVirtual VSA means big opportunities for HP's channel partners, said Dale Degen, software-defined storage category manager for HP.

"Software-defined storage has a real partner value," Degen told CRN. "For every $1 customers spend on software-defined storage, they'll spend $2.50 in hardware."

NEXT: Liking The Free HP StoreVirtual VSA

Solution providers like the idea of providing a free virtual storage appliance to both HP and non-HP customers.

It is a really smart move for HP, said Dave Butler, president of Enterprise Computing Solutions, a Mission Viejo, Calif.-based solution provider and long-time HP channel partner.

"Remember when VMware first came out?" Butler told CRN. "You could deploy it for free. But you had to buy additional functionality. The HP StoreVirtual VSA is a good opportunity to introduce customers to HP solutions, and to start a dialog about HP servers and even HP storage."

While the HP StoreVirtual VSA does not have the performance of full-fledged storage arrays, it is still a practical solution for may customers, Butler said.

"A lot of people need to set up storage but don't have critical requirements for controllers and speed," he said. "This also lets them set up storage across multiple ProLiants and treat it as an array."

Samad Ali, vice president of HP solutions for Logicalis, a New York-based solution provider and one of HP's top channel partners, said the HP StoreVirtual VSA is a good way to get customers closer to adopting HP.

"Sometimes HP's 3PAR array is not the right solution because of cost concerns or because of certain requirements such as for branch office solutions," Ali told CRN. "If customer storage requirements are such that performance is not the prime requirement but cost is, it's a good option."

Putting the HP StoreVirtual VSA along with a hypervisor and networking technology actually turns a ProLiant Gen9 server into a converged infrastructure solution-in-a-box that for certain customers starts to blur the line between the manager of compute, storage and networking resources, Ali said.

"With converged systems, one of the biggest challenges seems to be the alignment of resources in a company," he said. "Who will manage the passwords, the virtual servers, the networking ports? More importantly, what are the processes? This solution simplifies everything."

Along with the new HP StoreVirtual VSA, HP will work with Intel on an awareness campaign to jointly promote software-defined storage, Davis said.

The company also unveiled a new direct-attached storage array, the HPD3000, which fits either 12 standard drives or 25 small form factor drives in a 2U enclosure, Degen said. It features 12-Gbit-per-second SAS connectivity to match that of the ProLiant Gen9 servers, he said.

"It's pretty exciting," he said. "Customers can pair it with the HP StoreVirtual VSA and any server. Of course, we prefer HP servers."