HP set to roll out IP storage router

Hewlett-Packard Co. will announce its entry into the IP storage market Monday with an iSCSI storage router, which lets SCSI data be transported across a gigabit Ethernet network.

Although HP declined comment, the StorageWorks iSCSI router will debut at its ENSA@Work conference in Orlando, Fla.

Sources say the router attaches to the network via two gigabit Ethernet ports and to storage arrays via two Fibre Channel connections. Cisco manufactured it for HP, but it will not be sold as a separate Cisco product.

At the ENSA@Work conference in Amsterdam last month, HP demonstrated a prerelease version of the product connected to a ProLiant BL10e blade server and a Fibre Channel storage-area network for configurations where network-attached storage (NAS) would not work. HP also demonstrated iSCSI over a wireless Ethernet network.

Analysts say HP’s support of iSCSI needs to go further.

“I don’t see this to be a significant announcement,” says Roger Cox, chief analyst for Gartner Inc. “It reminds me of vendors that have announced that they now [are upgrading their arrays to] support 146GB disk drives.”

“It is another step in the evolution of iSCSI, albeit a small one,” says Anders Lofgren, senior analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. “The bigger question is, when will major storage vendors introduce native support for iSCSI on their array products, especially the midrange offerings.”

HP has claimed it will announce native iSCSI arrays in the next year. IBM Corp. and Network Appliance Inc. were the first major systems or storage vendors to introduce iSCSI arrays. EMC Corp., Hitachi Data Systems Corp. and StorageTek Inc. have not announced plans.

In a related announcement, HP is expected to reveal that it has increased the performance of its StorageWorks b2000, b3000, e7000 and e8000 NAS appliances by as much as 40 per cent by adding faster Intel processors.

The StorageWorks router costs US$10,000 and is available now.