Work remains on HP/Compaq storage merger

One year after Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Compaq Computer Corp. officially became one company, HP has not yet finished merging its storage product line. Some product phase-outs and new product introductions are scheduled for later this year. Still, analysts are impressed with the progress.

“They selected not only the right products, but also the right people,” said Robin Burke, a principal analyst with Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Inc.

Compaq ruled on the storage front in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) before it was bought and many Compaq names, products and people remain at HP’s storage division, which also had to cut about 10 per cent of its staff as a result of the merger and the economic downturn.

About 60 percent of the people at HP’s Network Storage Solutions unit come from Compaq, including Howard Elias, general manager of the unit and an HP senior vice president, and Olaf Swantee, vice president EMEA.

“They do the merger well. They select the best people and the best products; there is no battle and no hostages are being taken,” said Josh Krischer, a Germany-based research director with Gartner.

ENSA (Enterprise Network Storage Architecture) was Compaq’s storage strategy and has been adopted by HP, which had its own FSAM (Federated Storage Area Management) strategy. Carly Fiorina, HP’s chairman and chief executive officer, this year spoke at ENSA@Work, originally a Compaq event.

“Both strategies went in the same direction, with the objective to provide storage as a utility,” said Martin Regli, EMEA manager product management for HP’s storage unit. Regli also is from Compaq.

Under its ENSA Extended strategy, formulated in April last year, HP is focusing more on storage management and storage virtualization and less on the actual SAN (storage area network), NAS (network attached storage) and RAID (redundant arrays of inexpensive disks) hardware. Based on that strategy, the company decided which products would stay, and which products would have to go, Regli said.

The first overlap was in the interconnect area. Both HP and Compaq resold switches for storage networks from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and McData Corp. The merged HP is still working on a new switch portfolio, Regli said.

Looking at the actual data storage hardware, HP also has some work to do to get to a clear product portfolio.

For small companies, requiring up to 6T bytes of storage capacity, the line up is clear. The MSA1000, previously from Compaq, is the only offer, since HP had no competing product. “It was kind of an adopt and go,” Regli said.

It gets more complex at the midrange level, for companies requiring about 8T bytes of storage. Both HP and Compaq offered products at that level and those are still sold today, but will be phased out later this year and replaced by a midrange version of Compaq’s EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) product for the enterprise, according to Regli.

HP’s virtual array 7100 and 7400 series will be phased out later this year and so will Compaq’s modular array 8000 midrange system, Regli said.

“We will only have one midrange product,” Regli said.

In the enterprise area, where one system can hold about 35T bytes of data, Compaq has its EVA offering, while HP resells the Freedom 9900 system from Hitachi Data Systems Corp. as the HP disk array XP1024. The systems are different; the EVA is good for a storage network, while the XP1024 is meant for a mainframe environment.

“We will keep both, because they are different,” Regli said.

In backup tape libraries, both HP and Compaq had different reseller agreements. HP sold StorageTek products from Storage Technology Corp. while Compaq resold Quantum Corp. and Overland Storage Inc. products. The merged HP dropped Storage Technology Corp.

As a former Compaq employee, Regli feels the merger has gone well.

“To be honest, we don’t really care whether somebody is from HP or from Compaq. The most important thing is that everybody is pulling on the same rope so that we are going into the same direction,” he said.