Project Nitro Brings HP, Arrow Together On HP Software-Defined Storage

Hewlett-Packard and distribution partner Arrow Electronics have expanded a program aimed at spreading HP's StoreVirtual software-defined storage technology.

The goal of the expanded program under the Nitro moniker is to make it easy for HP and Arrow to work together to bring StoreVirtual to a wider range of HP and non-HP channel partners, said Rob Strechay, director of product management and marketing for Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP's software-defined storage business.

Nitro is the latest iteration of a program that started in late 2013 under which HP started bundling for free a version of its HP StoreVirtual VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) with its HP ProLiant Gen8 as a way to introduce SMB customers to the benefits of software-defined storage.

[Related: HP Seeds Storage Market With Free Virtual Storage For HP, Non-HP Servers]

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The program last September was expanded to provide the HP StoreVirtual VSA free of charge to all servers based on the new Intel Xeon processor E5 v3-based servers regardless of vendor to expand HP's storage capabilities to a wider potential customer base, Strechay told CRN.

Starting this month, HP is working with Centennial, Colo.-based Arrow to provide training on HP's software-defined storage platform and hyper-converged infrastructure technology, he said.

"Arrow is driving the program to target its resellers with awareness, education and sales," he said. "We provide guides to help Arrow target partners."

Those partners may or may not resell ProLiant servers, Strechay said. "By working with Arrow, they can add the StoreVirtual VSA to any Xeon E5-based servers," he said. "This lets Arrow resellers work across the server portfolio."

Strechay declined to comment on revenue HP has received from partners who switched customers from non-HP servers to ProLiants after dangling the free StoreVirtual VSA in front of them.

"We're using this program to drive our technology and high-value services," he said. "We have goals around conversion rates, but we can't disclose them."

Greg Schumacher, director of product management and core and application infrastructure at Arrow, also declined to talk about specific revenue numbers around Nitro.

However, Schumacher said his company is targeting a doubling of StoreVirtual VSA revenue with the program. "And there's a trickle effect for everything that touches StoreVirtual," he said.

The addition of the StoreVirtual VSA to ProLiant servers at no cost is a good way to talk to customers about HP's software-defined storage offerings, said Gary Hutchins, director of solutions architecture at VeriStor Systems, an Atlanta-based solution provider and HP channel partner.

"The program makes the conversations easier, especially around the hardware-agnostic part," Hutchins told CRN.

Nitro also helps ignite a conversation about bringing the StoreVirtual VSA to older servers that customers might not otherwise use, Hutchins said.

"A lot of customers are aging out their older hardware," he said. "Maybe they don't have the fastest processors. But there's a lot of storage in those older servers. It becomes a question of leveraging existing servers to do more storage. And customers love doing more with less."

Brian Spivey, managing partner of Technical and Scientific Applications (TSA), a Houston-based solution provider and HP channel partner, told CRN that his company has been aligned with HP for more than a decade, and that Arrow has been quick to provide help with testing and proofs of concept for the StoreVirtual technology.

"Arrow with Nitro is helping drive new opportunities on the sales side," Spivey said. "It's combining the free StoreVirtual VSA with leads and microsites to help accelerate growth of the technology."