HP storage array set to simplify midsize company life

With EVA4400, Hewlett-Packard targets medium-size businesses that see enterprise storage gear as too complex but need more than entry-level technology

As more medium-size companies consolidate their storage, Hewlett-Packard seized an opportunity on Tuesday with a disk array it says is easier to work with than large-enterprise gear, but delivers more capabilities than entry-level storage.

Pursuing the efficiency of virtualization or just greater uptime, medium-size organizations are bringing storage out of their servers and into SANs. But many don't have the expertise required to set up and run enterprise-class SANs, according to HP. Thus, there's the HP StorageWorks 4400 Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA4400), a platform with eight drives and two controllers all in one shelf that is designed to be discovered, configured, and set up in less than an hour.

The EVA4400 is available now and destined for the low end of the midrange market, starting at a list price of $15,000, said Kyle Fitze, director of marketing in the SAN division of HP's StorageWorks group. These customers tend to have about 1,000 employees, though some smaller enterprises may need this type of gear if they use a lot of storage, he said. Medium-size businesses often see enterprise storage gear as too complex but need more than entry-level technology, he said.

Consolidating drives and controllers in one shelf cuts costs, Fitze said. The two controllers that manage the drives operate simultaneously and can keep the system running if one fails. The array can be configured with drives ranging from 146GB to 1TB. Fully expanded on multiple shelves, the system can support as much as 96TB of storage.

Also Tuesday, HP introduced a set of 8Gbps Fibre Channel gear that can be used with the EVA4400. It delivers double the speed of the 4Gbps Fibre Channel technology now commonly used in SANs. The portfolio, including a switch, a PCI Express host bus adapter, and software, is available now for $8,199.

Pattillo Construction uses an HP MSA1000 storage array that's about 6 years old, said IT Director Buzz Kaas. The industrial park development and management company in Stone Mountain, Ga., has about 4TB of data, which is growing as records such as architectural drawings and leases become digital, Kaas said. He tested the EVA4400 and found he could install and set it up in about 10 minutes, a process that would have taken overnight with the older array. Pattillo has an IT staff of two and pays a consultant to manage the MSA1000. By contrast, the staff could handle daily management of the EVA4400 by itself, Kaas said.

Like other storage vendors, HP recently has been trying to make high-end storage easier to use so that it can attract smaller customers, said IDC analyst Natalya Yezhkova. Most midsize companies don't have storage specialists, and if they buy advanced storage systems, they need to either get tools that simplify management or hire additional staff, she said.

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