HP woos SMBs with blended storage system

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Hewlett Packard Co. says its new unified storage system for small and medium scale businesses (SMBs) combines the benefits of storage area networks (SAN), and network attached storage (NAS) .

Dubbed StorageWorks All-in-One (AiO), the system is designed to simplify management of rapidly growing number of data applications, says HP.

It’s a system for the IT generalist, not the storage expert, said Parag Suri, category business manager with HP StorageWorks Division in Mississauga, Ont.

He said the system’s user interface and instruction wizard uses application-centric terms that those with no expertise in storage technologies can understand.

It also makes migration to the system and the set-up of backup policies simple, Suri said.

As technology advances, SMBs need to store and manage an ever-increasing volume of data, the HP manager noted.” About 10 years ago, a typical employee would probably handle five to 10 kbytes of e-mail every day. Today, that daily traffic has gone up to one mbyte a day.”

Some businesses employ the more expensive SAN system to store massive quantities of data and allow for real-time backup and deploy a separate NAS device to enable file sharing among network users. Data protection software also has to be added to the mix.

Using this method, Suri said, could result in one terabyte (TB) of storage costing anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000.

The AiO system, he said, brings that cost down to around $7,000 per terabyte. The system provides SAN’s shared storage expansion for application servers and NAS’s file serving capability for end-user clients with HP’s Data Protector Express software under one umbrella, said Suri.

At least one Canadian analyst says HP is offering a very convincing combination of features.

“HP certainly hit key points to attract SMBs,” said John Sloan, senior research analyst for London, Ont-based, Info-Tech Research Group Inc.

Sloan said “storage management for SMBs” is a promising market and a vendor that offers just the right combination of capabilities can do well in this market.

Research firm IDC in Framingham, Mass. estimates more than 60 per cent of SMBs have not yet deployed network storage systems. IDC predicts a $5.7 billion market opportunity by 2010.

However, Sloan said HP is not the only company that simultaneously supports fibre and Internet Protocol (IP) SAN and NAS storage capability. “HP is projecting it as a brand new innovation. But there is competition out there.”

Competing vendors mentioned by Sloan include Network Appliance Inc . of Sunnyvale, Calif and Adaptec Inc., Milpitas, Calif.

But among the key advantages of the HP offering, Sloan said are ease of use, low cost and ability to operate effectively with the widely popular software, Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003.

The AiO comes in two models.

StorageWorks 400 AiO uses a Dual Core Intel Pentium D 930 processor and has a storage capacity of 1 TB. The higher priced StorageWorks 600 employs a Dual Core Intel Xenon processor and has a capacity of 1.5 TB expandable to 10 TB.

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