HP lays out storage plans, product mergers

The post-merger Hewlett-Packard Co. announced plans today for a new storage division, dubbed Network Storage Solutions (NSS), that will include merging some products while phasing others out completely during the next five years.

Mark Lewis, head of worldwide marketing and solutions for NSS, said the focus of the new division will be the creation of storage systems that act like a utility at the companies in which they’re installed. The path to that model, while hardly unique to the storage vendor community, is software that automates the backup process and allocates storage from virtual pools.

“It’s costing people five to seven times the acquisition costs of storage to manage it. To me that spells opportunity,” Lewis said. “We’re consolidating assets to gain synergy over time, but what we want to do is take our combined R&D and use that to accelerate our road map.”

HP’s plans, laid out less than a month after its merger with Compaq Computer Corp. was finalized, includes automatic storage provisioning that relies on a rules-based engine to allocate disk space for an application as it’s needed. Also working off a rules-based engine is the development of a storage “life-cycle management” application that will catalog information on different media.

For example, when a database of customers is first created, it will be automatically stored on high-performance RAID arrays while automatically being backed up to a disaster recovery site. After so much time, that data will be sent to a less expensive disk pool that still affords easy access but doesn’t take up mission critical data storage. FInally, that data would be stored in a tape library.

“From the birth to the death of a file, it needs to be cataloged, backed up, archived and sometimes deleted,” Lewis said. “Our concept is to build stronger cataloging techniques, so when a customer needs a record or file, it doesn’t take six tools to understand where that data is cataloging.”

NSS plans to sell Super DLT tape drives and LTO Ultrium tape drives in its libraries, but during the next year it will phase out HP’s MSL and ESL tape libraries in favor of Compaq’s StorageWorks Heritage product line.

At the high end of disk arrays, the company plans to keep the StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) from Compaq, as well as HP’s XP array series.

“We have stated to our customers that over time we’ll scale down the EVA technology into a midrange device and phase out both of the existing midrange products,” Lewis said, referring to HP’s VA array series of products and the EMA line from Compaq. Those midrange products will be phased out during the next 18 to 24 months.

In the area of storage networking software, Lewis said the Compaq and HP products will be consolidated into one line with common firmware and integration features.

HP will continue to sell its OpenView storage management suite but will phase in selected capabilities for resource management from Compaq’s TeMIP storage operating system. The OpenView product line will focus on integrated management solutions and extended management reach for both network and IP devices and Web services management.

“We obviously don’t want to have so many operating systems. It’s better to have fewer that we can leverage through [research and development],” Lewis said.

The company will also focus on putting out a storage virtualization product from HP’s acquisition of Bridgewater, N.J.-based StorageApps late last summer and Compaq’s investment in the VersaStor product.

“SanLink will provide virtualization for specific purposes in midrange [devices], such as replication and heterogeneous storage management. But ultimately we needed a product like VersaStore that can scale across the SAN,” Lewis said. “So, over time we’ll make a product line out of these two products and link them together.”

In terms of NAS, the company will continue to sell the StorageWorks appliance for the entry level, the HP appliance for the midrange and enterprise level and continue to work toward NAS/SAN convergence.

Lewis said that “nothing will be replaced that doesn’t have a comparable or better replacement.”

“Our goal in this is not to affect the customer from their awareness perspective any more than if we were making a normal product life-cycle transition,” he said.