HP plans networked storage for SMBs

Despite the low price tag, HP and partners stand to profit because the number of small- and medium-sized businesses is growing fastly

Hewlett-Packard (HP) will launch a family of networked storage products in September to compete with EMC for small and medium-size business customers.

The products, announced Monday, will simplify the process of migrating data from application servers to shared network storage, said Debbie Young, worldwide marketing manager for HP's StorageWorks division, in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

HP will price the products beginning at $5,000 for 1T byte of capacity and ranging up to $10,000, coming in below its current low-end storage tool, the modular smart array (MSA).

As their businesses grow, users will be able to upgrade through the spectrum of HP storage options, from 24T bytes for the MSA to 72T bytes for the enterprise virtual array (EVA) to 332T bytes for the XP array.

Despite the low price tag, HP and its partners will stand to profit since the number small and medium-size businesses is growing so fast.

HP will launch the product with a $20 million worldwide marketing campaign to compete against products like StoreVault from Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp), SAN Express from QLogic Corp. and Snap Server from Adaptec Inc.

Small business users typically hold their data on three to 14 servers, adding extra servers as they grow, Young said.

In market research, HP found that 60 percent to 70 percent of those users said they had continued to use this "direct attached storage" technique because its simplicity allows them to maintain it without a full-time IT department, and because the only alternatives in today's market cost $20,000 to $30,000.

To reach those users, HP's new products will be able to host client applications, e-mail running on Exchange or Lotus, and ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) databases, all without requiring customers to install a fibre channel infrastructure.

They will protect data by duplicating it in snapshots stored on the same box or by creating tape backups on an attached device. In an effort to keep prices low, they will not include data encryption.

HP would not reveal details of the system design, but said it would include shared application server storage, a Microsoft Corp. Windows-based file server and proprietary intellectual property to provide data management and protection.

Rather than using revolutionary hardware, it relies on the wide adoption of common industry standards and on a tight integration of domains that have been separated in previous designs, said Ash Ashutosh, vice president and chief technology officer of HP's StorageWorks division.

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