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What’s happening with HP storage? Part 1

Apr 04, 20064 mins
Data Center

* Low down of storage at HP

Space – as one of the more technical books on my shelf reminds me – is really, really big. So is HP.

When I meet with the management at HP and look at what the company is doing with its products, it’s often like being invited to chow down at a smorgasbord. After all, this is a $90-plus billion company involved in everything from printer paper to medical instrumentation to consumer products to storage software and hardware. The company is so large (and so diverse) that it – like IBM, but unlike everyone else – spends far more on R&D than most of its competitors will ever dream of taking in revenue.

And so, when I go to visit HP I often approach the big table wondering where to begin my sampling. Up front, I know there is some of it I don’t even want to consider (think pickled herring if you have a mind to continue with the smorgasbord simile, think printers and non-storage products if you don’t), but there is more than enough on the table to address my and just about anybody else’s appetite. With these guys, it is almost always fun.

Today and next time we’ll talk about what is happening with HP’s storage hardware, and software offerings.

First though, if you have been listening to competitors’ propaganda and were worried about HP’s storage group, I’d advise you to extend your sympathy in some other direction. By acquisition and through growth of existing product lines, HP’s server and storage business has developed to the point where last quarter’s revenue amounted to $3.8 billion – that means this group accounts for about one out of every six dollars that wind up in the HP corporate coffers.

Hardware is expected to be a big earner and show added growth in 2006. HP’s huge tape business declined last year, but the array, storage-area network and network-attached storage (NAS) businesses were all good. The company continues to churn out new editions of its arrays (EVA and SVA), but a more interesting – and somewhat stealthy – aspect of this growth has been the steady pace at which HP’s NAS business has grown. The company still lags far behind leaders EMC and NetApp, but whereas two years ago HP wasn’t even on the map as far as NAS went, it now has a sizable number of NAS boxes in the field and may well be one of the top five vendors in this area.

The strategic approach still is based on HP’s “Adaptive Enterprise” concept, an on-demand IT environment for which HP continues to roll out a set of tools aimed at managing the infrastructure in a unified manner. On-demand environments require a number of things – standards conformance (required to enable automating such fundamental actions as discovery and provisioning), automated management (for taking human operations – and human-induced errors – out of the management scheme, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing costs), and virtualized assets pools (to enable dynamic allocation of assets so as to address capacity or performance demands on-the-fly).

HP’s management tools – Integrity Essentials, ProLiant Essentials and Storage Essentials – all plug into HP’s Systems Insight Manager, allowing management (in pieces – it’s not all there yet) of the whole enterprise through a single pane of glass. The result is an increasing ability to manage systems dynamically, enabling automated scaling up (adding capacity to existing devices) and scaling out (adding additional devices). It is also clear that HP’s leadership position in SMI-S conformance enables it to maintain its position as a frontrunner when it comes to integrating the management of enterprise storage and servers.

Next time, a look at what is happening with HP’s software portfolio.