Hewlett Packard Co.’s converged storage strategy is gaining keen attention in the Canadian market but it needs a robust network component in order to fully take advantage of the opportunities, according to the company’s partners and industry observers.

“We’re getting a lot requests from partners for quotes and also configuration questions on the 3PAR StoreServ line of servers,” said Pete McNair, national director for HP solutions and marketing at IT solutions distributor Avnet Canada Ltd. “This is exciting news and we’re glad to be part of that conversation because it means there a huge interest in HP’s storage offerings here.”
McNair was among the HP partners and customers who attended the Thursday HP Storage Summit in Toronto where the company outlined a new storage strategy that takes into account the management of unstructured data such as voice, email and video from a wide variety of devices.

The 3PAR 7000 series is a line of storage servers introduced by HP last December. The servers, priced from $20,000 to $34,000, are aimed at mid-sized businesses and smaller enterprise branch offices but provide performance comparable to HP’s more expensive Tier 1 storage servers. They are part of HP’s new portfolio of products around its converged storage offering that includes: the StoreAll storage appliance, which uses HP new Express Query, a NoSQL, metadata database that performs searches up to 100,000 times faster than traditional systems; and StoreOnce backup servers designed for multitenancy and can deduplicate files across data centres.

But while there is growing interest in Canada for the offerings, McNair said, many of their customers still tend to hook up their storage servers network tools from other manufacturers. Another partner agrees.

”If we’re going in with an HP blade, we’re often attaching that to a Cisco switch,” said Lou Tetsos, director of virtual infrastructure solutions at Compugen Inc. “That’s where there’s a great opportunity for HP to have a network solution to be attached and sold to the channel.

HP is up against widespread legacy deployment and brand recognition, according to Michelle Warren, principal analyst at MW Research and Consulting in Toronto.

“HP has a great storage strategy, but they have a product gap in network,” she said. “Unfortunately many businesses tend to stick with the brand they know and very often, that’s brand is Cisco.”

HP is in the midst of a multi-year transformation that takes this into account said David Scott, worldwide senior VP and general manager for HP storage. When C-level executives realize that they’re system suffering from performance lag and growing costs because their network switches cannot bring out the desired performance from their servers, they will look for change, he added.

“Brand recognition gets worn down when users feel expenses mounting,” he said.

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