Hewlett-Packard announces Ultrium LTO as part of its network storage strategy

Hewlett-Packard Company last month launched a series of products, adding to its networked storage product line.

As part of the announcements, HP introduced its first generation of Ultrium products based on Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology.

HP announced its HP SureStore Ultrium 230 in October, but said it plans to release the SureStore Ultrium 215 early next year. The product will deliver 200GB capacity, and a transfer rate of 15MBps. The tape product’s functionalities include remote management, dual-mode compression and data conversion functionalities, according to HP.

Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at The Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said that he loves the new offering “because it is the first half-height that we’ve seen, which is going to open up a very high-end tape technology to a much broader market.”

He explained that HP figured out a way to keep the power and cooling requirements down enough so that it can fit into mid-range PC servers, enabling mid-sized companies to have high-end power.

“That’s a distinct competitive advantage, in my estimation, for them,” Duplessie said.

Paul Patterson, sales development manager, information storage products, at Hewlett-Packard Canada in Mississauga, Ont., said HP co-developed the Ultrium LTO technology with Seagate and IBM.

“There is a need to work with companies to drive a standard to the marketplace so that it is accepted…and legitimizes the standard,” he said. “For customers, (that means) they can take a look and see where the product is going.”

John Webster, senior analyst and IT advisor at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc., noted that the founders of the technology have gained a respectable segment of the vendor community to sign off on participating in the LTO standard.

“The big question when they first introduced this three years ago was whether or not it was going to get traction in the market,” he said. “I think that’s happened. I think LTO is real and the question now is, ‘How much traction can they continue to get from the standard?'”

That is something that will have to be proven over time, Webster added.

The LTO technology enables many things, Patterson noted. It offers more storage, allowing users to put 200GB on one tape; it offers faster transfer rates (up to 40MBps); and offers scalability.

As part of its ‘always-on’ strategy, HP also introduced the HP SureStore Disk Array XP48. The company said that this offering is based on the same technology as its XP512, but comes in a smaller package. The XP48 scales to 3.5 terabytes, and offers what the company calls ‘non-stop operation features’ such as a protected mirror cache architecture and the ability to upgrade non-disruptively. Pricing for the XP48 varies according to configurations, but is approximately $0.19/MB.

Webster said the new offering will do well in the lower-end markets. He explained that the XP512 was bound to the high-end market, and that the product’s function set can now be moved down market “to reach a different level of customer and different level of application set.”

Also announced: the HP SureStore DLT1. Designed for customers who require capacities up to 80GB, this new product is compatible with other DLT products. It has a transfer rate of 6MBps, according to the company, and the HP SureStore Tape Autoloader 1/9 will offer this tape drive. The DLT1 is priced at $2,529 for the internal device, and $2,846 for the external one.

Patterson explained that when it comes to storage, HP is trying to focus on establishing a connection between networking and storage. Patterson identified the three pillars of HP’s storage strategy as e-appliances, e-services and an always-on infrastructure.

The company wants to be able to meet user needs for integrated storage solutions, he explained, adding that that is part of the reason why HP’s networking and storage divisions are coming together. He said that HP also wants to deliver solutions that include software, hardware and service components, and it wants to invest in technology building blocks.

Enterprises should not have to worry about upgrading their equipment, but instead should prepare for the upcoming increase of data rates now, he said.

Duplessie noted that HP is probably the first systems vendor to incorporate storage and networking together as a part of its strategy.

“I happen to think it is the right strategy, because I believe there is an inevitable convergence between storage and networking technologies,” he explained. “And I not only think they (HP) will be successful, but I think that everyone else will ultimately follow suit.”

For more information, visit HP on the Web at www.hp.com.