HP outlines its storage and services vision at conference

Hewlett-Packard Co. last month used the Windy City as a platform to air out new battle plans for its many lines of business, including a few for the networking space. The company reported a revamped, three-fold strategy consisting of enabling e-services, an always-on infrastructure and intelligent, connected devices at the annual HP World Conference and Expo held in Chicago.

Company executives were on hand to deliver keynote speeches detailing the strategy covering the HP vision, including the shift to service-centric computing, as well as the company’s detailed storage direction.

According to Lynn Anderson, vice-president of enterprise marketing for HP Canada, the underlying message resides in the fact that HP believes it is qualified to thrive and win in the intersection of the three trends it has developed its strategy around.

Anderson’s comments coincide with what Ann Livermore, president of HP services, outlined during her keynote address. Livermore said that HP sees a series of important shifts in the technology world, where IT will be delivered as a service built around the concept of services-centric computing.

“Our vision of the future encompasses a world where the Internet will become dynamic, flexible, and (will be) always on,” Livermore said.

Livermore described the company’s belief by saying that e-services, intelligent devices and environments in an always-on Internet infrastructure will spontaneously connect and be harnessed to perform tasks and then disconnect when the task is complete.

She added that this concept will be carried out in all the areas in which HP has involved itself. Taking that concept and adding a mobility twist was Rich Raimondi, vice-president and general manager of service provider and mobile solutions with HP’s solutions organization.

“Mobility will transform business and will change ideas,” Raimondi said. “Service-centric computing is also partner-centric. Being partner-centric is necessary to compete.”

He added that HP plans to expand to use its role as a partner to help facilitate and assist developers in creating the right solutions for customers.

It was not all hard-nosed strategizing, however, at the conference. The event also gave way to some sneak previews of future services, acquisitions and announcements the company plans to announce officially later this year and throughout 2002.

Topping the list was the introduction of a concept dubbed i-shadow. According to Nora Denzel, vice-president and general manager of HP’s network storage solutions organization, i-shadow (information shadow) stems from the idea that as people are physically carrying terabytes of data, housing that data is becoming increasingly difficult. With i-shadow, data would be transferred to a local storage service provider (SSP), one that would ideally belong to a federation of SSPs. It would become unnecessary for someone to lug a laptop or risk losing a PDA when giving an address or speech, Denzel said.

She also mentioned the development of what is being called Atomic Resolution storage.

“Atomic Resolutions storage is storage the size of atoms, which allows you to get within a few nanometres of your storage,” Denzel said, adding that these innovations are being developed to deal with the exploding demands for storage. During her address she noted that more data will be created over the next three years than has been generated in the last 40,000 years.

“The evolution of storage began as server-centric and has moved to storage-centric,” she said. “[The next step] is network-centric storage, which is non-proprietary, network managed storage. It is the most efficient, economic, automated (method).”

Denzel said that HP plans to close a deal very soon in which it will acquire New Jersey-based StorageApps, a storage virtualization company specializing in remote replication and data mirroring on any hardware platform.

She said that the acquisition of StorageApps, which was announced in July, will accelerate HP’s FSAM (federated storage area management) strategy. FSAM is designed to allow customers to meet the challenge of managing growing disparate storage systems by growing their storage by a factor of ten without having to hire additional people.

“It’s not like we just figured storage out,” Denzel said. “We are investing heavily in our storage solutions. We have a great track record but we are nowhere near done.”

HP customers at the Expo were supportive of the company’s strategic promises but are keeping the sour economy in mind.

Paul Kaler, vice-president of technology for Texas Memory Systems Inc. in Houston said his company is pleased to learn of HP’s increased investment in storage, but that the year has been a down one for all businesses. Texas Memory Systems uses HP labs to test out interoperability issues of its storage products.

HP Canada’s Anderson offered that the company plans to remain focused on developing and nurturing its customers and partners during the current economic conditions as well as into the future.

“We are seeing a brand new emerging business model where IT is delivered as a service as opposed to a capital expense,” Anderson said. “You will be able to buy your computing power, your software and your services in a pay-per-use manner. We are also seeing a commitment to open systems. We are the first to promote open storage. In a network storage environment, it won’t matter what vendor’s hardware you have.

“We believe that because we have such a tradition in being able to demonstrate that, people will select our hardware because they know that they will have the most flexibility. At the end of the day, HP will earn (customers’) business and be the best possible partner to work with them.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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