Compaq lays out its storage strategy

Compaq Computer Corp. announced this week it has plotted a course for its future storage products that will take it into the storage over the Internet protocol arena as well as lead to the release of a series of hardware and software products targeted at both small business and Fortune 500 firms.

The Houston-based computer vendor said it plans to release six new products, including management software and a new RAID device that will accept the disk drives of current Compaq servers and arrays. The new releases will be an expansion of the company’s Enterprise Network Storage Architecture, which was first released in 1998 and included network-attached storage (NAS) and Fibre Channel-based storage area network (SAN) products.

Mark Lewis, vice-president and general manager of Compaq’s Enterprise Storage Group, said the first product is a direct-attached storage to Fibre Channel SAN device, or “DtS.” Compaq said the device would allow customers with ProLiant servers or larger NAS arrays to pull their disk drives and mount them in a box that will automatically configure the data in a RAID format that can be accessed through a switched network.

“Normally when you ship an array product, it wants to wipe out all [legacy] disks,” said Compaq spokesman Gary Wright. “This RAID can attach to an existing SAN or it can have embedded switches within the array itself that you can then attach servers to.”

Wright said the new rack-mounted device is targeted at the small business or departmental client and is expected to ship in two to three months. He added that it would be competitively priced with current RAID Array 4100 product.

Compaq said it’s also building a series of products aimed at sending block-level data, such as that in a database, over Internet protocol. The products are based on still emerging standards that would encapsulate Fibre Channel or SCSI commands and data and wrap them in IP packets for transport over long distances for mirroring, data backup and recovery purposes. The iFCP, FCIP and iSCSI products are to be announced by the fourth quarter, Wright said.

In conjunction with its new NAS and SAN products, Compaq said it will be offering an appliance that will allow servers to be configured to access either file-level or block-level data.

Lewis also announced yesterday that his group is shipping a new disk array that has Compaq’s VersaStor software embedded in its controller, allowing an IT manager to gather storage space from various storage devices into one “virtual” pool that can then be allocated to various users.

Compaq also said that within the next two years, it would be shipping software products that will automate data security, protection and management policies.