HP Lays Out Storage Architecture

Hewlett-Packard Co. has decided to make its presence known in the storage market and is now weighing in with its own storage area network (SAN) roadmap and architecture: HP Equation.

Compaq Computer Corp. has its Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA), Sun Microsystems Inc. has its StoreX, EMC Corp. has its Enterprise Storage Networks and IBM Corp. has its Seascape.

Hewlett-Packard Co. is now weighing in with its own storage area network (SAN) roadmap and architecture: HP Equation.

HP Equation differs from other SAN roadmaps and architectures in its commitment to immediate deployment of mixed storage systems. The introduction also signals an oncoming battle between HP and EMC, according to some analysts.

The heart of HP’s SAN is its new HP SureStore E Disk Array MC256, a 60-GB to 9-TB disk array that connects to HP-UX, Solaris, AIX and Windows NT environments. An 11-piece software portfolio with the disk array enables mirroring, online backup, resource sharing, security features, disk management, RAID management and remote administration. The storage management software is based on HP’s OpenView LAN management software.

"HP Equation is an intelligent storage architecture that will form the basis for everything we do in enterprise storage," says Marilyn Edling, general manager of HP’s enterprise storage solutions division. "It includes support for multiple platforms, multiple operating systems and multiple storage vendors."

HP has a joint technology and OEM agreement with Hitachi Ltd., which manufactures the SureStore disk array. The announcement of that deal represents the flash point with EMC.

HP has been selling EMC disk arrays in its storage solutions for several years, and will continue to resell EMC’s Symmetrix line of disk arrays to meet current obligations.

A report by the market analyst firm Aberdeen Group (www.aberdeen.com) estimates that EMC derives 20 percent of its revenues from HP-related sales and that EMC products may account for more than 50 percent of HP’s storage systems revenues.

"Aberdeen anticipates that EMC will react immediately to [the] announcement by selling directly in competition to HP and attempting to wrest account control in customer sites that have already purchased Symmetrix products from HP," write John Logan and David Hill, Aberdeen analysts.

While the Aberdeen analysts view the move as risky for HP, they see it as positive for customers: "Even though the HP-EMC repercussions are still unknown, it is obvious to Aberdeen that this is a major win-win market development for enterprise-level IS buyers."