HP targets mid-market

Hewlett-Packard has expanded its storage management portfolio with a release aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, as the firm tries to capitalize on the growing thirst for data management tools amongst non-enterprise-class customers.

Dubbed HP Storage Essentials Standard Edition, the software aims to automate typical storage procedures and in turn drive greater efficiency for customers through lower human resources costs and streamlined business processes.

“It’s helping the customers become more agile to essentially automate and manage the business processes and not have to worry about the underlying server and storage elements,” said Parag Suri, category business manager for the StorageWorks portfolio, Technology Solutions Group at HP Canada.

Much of the work involved with managing data stored on disk arrays is today done manually by a storage administrator, Suri said. The Storage Essentials offering “gives you the efficiency of not having to have as many people to do it and, because it is working off of automated technology, this reduces the time it takes to get this done.”

Another benefit to automating such processes, Suri added, is that storage can also be managed in a more flexible way.

“It helps customers come closer to being a 24-7 business. You can manage [your storage] while in the office, but you can also set thresholds so the platform can alert you or page you when you are off-site.”

Introduced at the recently held Storage Networking World conference in San Diego, the software is the first product rollout from HP’s new Enterprise Storage and Server Software business unit, which provides software to manage, virtualize and automate customers’ IT systems.

The software is built on the latest open standards, HP said, including SMI-S and J2EE, and integrates with HP Systems Insight Manager software for unified server and storage management.

“On a single pane of glass, the storage administrator can have a full view of their entire server and storage infrastructure and have a common management interface,” Suri said. “That means a lot of simplicity, not only from not just having a single management interface, but also from a training expertise requirement. Customers don’t have to have multiple people to build expertise on to provide this management capability.”

The explosion of data is not limited to enterprises, Suri said, hence the need for tools to manage the exponential growth of all those bits and bytes. “It doesn’t matter what size the business is. Most businesses see their data approximately double every year. As we have more and more data, what becomes important is how you manage that data.”

The pain point, he added, is being able to manage it and finding the right number of resources to manage it. “One storage administrator can only manage so many TB of data,” he said.

Whereas the previously released Storage Essentials Enterprise Edition is tailored for more heterogeneous storage environments, where firms might have servers and other infrastructure elements from different vendors, the Standard edition works within an HP framework.

“The value-add becomes even more significant if customers are using HP storage, so they can have a unified server and storage management interface,” said Suri.

The platform’s HP-only flavour does not strike Forrester senior analyst Micheal Speyer as a deterrent.

“I can’t see it being a bad thing for customers, as long as the software does manage the storage in a way that it needs to be managed. From a customer perspective, it’s great from the maintenance side because you only have to point your finger at one vendor.”

The analyst added that HP is pushing its channel partners to deliver as many HP-only solutions as they can.

“It serves [HP] well so that the channel doesn’t have to go outside an HP-only shop and start putting in a management end or infrastructure solution from other vendors.”

HP Storage Essentials Standard Edition is priced at $47,000, which gives customers “all the software that the majority of midsize businesses need,” said Suri. It will be available in June.

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