HP continues virtual push with storage, service offerings

HP Inc. has launched a pair of high-capacity virtualized storage arrays and a series of new virtualization-based service offerings to help cash strapped enterprises better take advantage of their IT budgets.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based tech giant said that while cutting costs in the midst of the global economic recession is crucial, ensuring that your business is well positioned for an eventual rebound should be the ultimate goal. With more and more businesses re-evaluating the status of their virtualization projects, HP hopes its new projects and services can help keep IT organizations on-track.

With storage needs in virtual and physical environments continuing to grow, the company unveiled the StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array 6400 and 8400. The virtual arrays come with new features such as virtual RAID 6 and a solid-state drive option. The SSDs enable more storage capacity and quick access to information stores, while virtual RAID 6 offers protection against double drive failures.

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In addition, HP announced upgrades to its SAN Virtualization Services Platform 2.1, a network-based storage solution focused on accelerating the time needed to migration, replication, backup and provisioning new online applications. The offering also allows enterprises to virtualize storage across multiple arrays, including platforms from vendors such as EMC Corp., IBM Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc., into a single virtual pool.

“These storage solutions will fill in and improve our breadth and offering, specifically targeted to virtualized environments,” Dave Frederickson, vice-president enterprise servers and storage at HP Canada, said. “Customers typically virtualize their server environments first and then, right on the heels of that, they look to their storage environment.”

Along with the product announcements, HP also formally launched a bevy of service offerings, ranging from data centre design to virtualization ROI services. Some of these services leverage expertise the from recently purchased Electronic Data Systems.

“Whether it be VMware, Citrix or Microsoft solutions, we’re working with our complementary partners in this space and are focused on making sure that customers continuing to get the maximum return on virtualization and consolidation projects,” Frederickson said.

He added that HP is also offering clients the option of tiered levels of service, which lower the cost of running less-critical applications, while keeping the higher service levels for critical apps.

“If you take a look at where most companies are spending their money, in general, about 80 per cent of it goes to maintaining their legacy environments,” he said. With only 20 per cent of IT budgets going to innovation, the HP Canada executive hopes that the new storage products and virtualization services can keep customers on-track with their virtual implementations and the return on investment they hope to achieve.

According to Charles King, a principal analyst with Pund-IT Research Inc., the huge interest in server virtualization has focused HP on extending the conversation about virtualization to storage products and solutions. The company needs to show how these solutions can provide some real monetary and system efficiency benefits for clients if they are to be successful, he added.

“Even something that would have been considered a minor IT expenditure in normal times is now being reviewed by C-level executives to ensure their monetary value,” King said. “The performance and footprint improvements with the new HP products are definitely solid – even exceptional.

“When they start rolling this stuff out to their clients they’re going to be asked to define in financial terms what those benefits translate to. We haven’t seen that yet,” he added.

As for the company’s virtualization and consolidation services, King said that HP’s vision is a common one throughout the industry right now.

“There’s a consensus of opinion amongst most of the vendors out there that this is the direction customers are going,” he said.

And while HP still doesn’t have a strong long-term plan for its EDS acquisition, King added, the company was wise to leverage EDS’ strengths to enabled their new suite of service offerings.

The HP EVA 6400 and EVA 8400 virtual arrays are priced at $ 33,265 and $ 83,902.00 respectively, while the HP StorageWorks SAN Virtualization Services Platform bundle is listed at $46,648.

All these products are now available.

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