The Buzz

HP's Storage Strategy

HP has become a real player in the storage arena. A little more than a year ago, it was still considered a captive supplier of products to HP-only environments, or as a reseller for EMC. Now, it has racked up sales of more than 2 petabytes of storage for high-end storage platforms, says Bob McGraw, Brand Marketing Manager for HP's Storage Organization (HPSO). According to IDC, HP now ties EMC in market share, capturing a bit more than 12 percent of the total terabytes of disk storage shipped worldwide. That percentage exceeds IBM's, and represents almost twice that of Sun.

HP's storage announcements just keep coming. In mid-May, the company unveiled new products for the high end - new functionality for Zero Downtime Backup and a new NAS product. At the same time, HP announced a new SureStore E Tape Library 6/140 and a SAN backup solution.

The new functionality for the HP SureStore E Disk Array XP256-based Zero Downtime Backup solution from HP OpenView OmniBack II is available on Windows NT for Microsoft Exchange and file systems applications and on HP-UX for Oracle Parallel Server, as well as for Oracle, SAP R/3, file system and raw disk. HP also announced that the new solutions integrate with VERITAS NetBackup with Business Copy XP across the same platforms. For NAS, HP is offering pre-packaged NAS solution templates and has expanded its services.

HP's new HP SureStore E Tape Library 6/140 is a modular tape library available in four- to six-drive configurations. It offers slot capacities of 100, 120 or 140, and both SCSI and Fibre Channel interfaces. The 6/140, currently offering DLT 8000 drive technology with native capacities of 4 TB, 4.8 TB and 5.6 TB, is upgradable to include new tape drive technology, such as HP's Ultrium format LTO and Super DLT tape. SAN backup, a pre-tested SAN backup solution for heterogeneous servers, will support HP-UX, NT and Solaris servers this month.

These announcements come on the heels of a number of other storage announcements from HP. Less than a week before, HP unveiled SureStore E Command View XP and OpenView SPI for XP Disk Arrays. Command View XP deploys a platform-independent Web browser interface to give users a broad view of their storage resources. OpenView SP for XP Disk Arrays, a storage device management extension for OpenView environments, allows customers to monitor their XP storage devices from a single console and integrate them into HP OpenView's service level management tools. And not long before those announcements, HP introduced a new high-performance entry-level disk system (the SureStore E Disk System HVD10) that operates on both the HP-UX and MPE platforms, while also announcing it had increased the capacity of the FC60 to feature new 73-GB drives.

HP is also bringing the two major parts of its storage operations, as well as smaller storage groups under a single umbrella - HPSO. The new group is divided into five main units: data protection (tape libraries and formats), data management (disk systems, arrays, and direct attached storage, including NAS and SAN), extended platform (the high end, including high-end arrays and XP storage management software), networking (Ethernet hubs and switches) and integrated solutions (including SAN infrastructure and storage management software that is not device-specific). Networking was pulled under the general storage umbrella because HP "believes storage networking is where things are going, and we're focusing on both NAS and SAN," explains McGraw.

HP Unveils UNIX Servers

HP, second behind Sun in the entry-level UNIX server market, made a bid to move up by launching the new A-Class, the HP 9000 A400 and A500. HP is also bundling some big-name software with the A-Class, having lined up more than 20 ISV partners. To meet the needs of service providers and start-ups, HP has extended its existing instant Capacity on Demand (iCOD) program and its innovative financing options.

The new 1- or 2-way A-Class servers are available on Linux and HP-UX and fall below the entry-level 4-way L-Class, reflecting HP's desire to further penetrate the entry level - a lucrative market that reaches almost $11 billion, according to IDC. Specifically, HP is targeting Internet start-ups, established dotcoms, and enterprise and mid-market customers evolving from brick-and-mortar businesses to e-businesses, says John Miller, HP's Worldwide Product Line Manager for UNIX server systems.

The A400 features HP's PA-8500 chip; the A500 features the PA-8600, the new processor included in HP's mid-range N-Class. The servers also feature WebQoS peak traffic management software, extended fault management systems and Web-based management tools for remote diagnosis.

Bundled with both servers are Nokia's WAP server, Infoseek's search engine, and Resonate's load-balancing software. The Nokia software makes the A-Class the first out-of-the box wireless Web server, according to Miller, who says it was included to meet the growing demand for access into databases and Web front ends via cell phone or mobile device.

To meet the needs of service providers, HP has extended its instant iCOD program to offer Servers on Demand. The Servers on Demand program allows businesses to keep HP servers on-site and increase capacity as they need it, paying only as they pull the servers into their environment.

The new Pay-Per-Forecast program allows users to structure their payments based on forecast over the term of the lease.

For more on HP's 9000 series, see "The HP 9000: In a Class (or Is That Classes?) by Itself" on page 9.

f5 load-balancing appliances

E-commerce and the demand for bandwidth have made load-balancing solutions, like those from F5 Networks, hot products. F5's load-balancing appliances - software integrated with server hardware - even out loads over multiple servers.

Now F5 has expanded its BIG-IP family of products by unveiling four new special-purpose iTCM (Internet traffic and content management) appliances. Three of the four products provide load balancing and high availability for a specific type of network device - firewall, Web and cache servers. The fourth handles SSL encryption and centralizes SSL traffic management to enhance speed and traffic management for secure online transactions.

The new products include BIG-IP Fire Guard, which provides load balancing and high availability for firewalls; BIG-IP Load Balancer, which provides load balancing of Internet servers; BIG-IP Cache Controller, which provides load balancing and high availability of cache servers, and BIG-IP e-Commerce Controller, which manages SSL encryption and centralizes SSL traffic management. The first three appliances will begin shipping in the second quarter of this year. The fourth, BIG-IP e-Commerce Controller, will begin shipping in the third quarter.

Loudcloud's New Portal

Loudcloud, a service provider led by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, has launched myLoudcloud, a new portal that gives the company's customers detailed information about their Web sites. Using a secure Internet connection, any Loudcloud customer can access realtime application infrastructure performance statistics and detailed Web site traffic reports. The portal can be personalized to fit customer needs and is available now.

"myLoudcloud gives us access to detailed data about the performance of our systems in realtime, even though Loudcloud is handling the management and hosting of our infrastructure," says Chris Wong, CEO and President of SkillsVillage.com. "The portal also provides us with valuable information about the customers that are visiting our Web site, and what areas are catching their interest."

The new portal is part of Loudcloud's Smart Cloud services, packaged "pay-as-you-go" Web-based business services, which include storage and networking equipment, software, bandwidth for online access, and around-the-clock operation and technical support. Launched in February, Loudcloud offers different price structures for services, based on clients' needs, and targets companies that already have an Internet presence and venture capital backing.

The startup has lined up some industry heavyweights as partners, including HP, Sun and Oracle, to offer customers bundles of hardware, operating systems, Web servers and e-commerce applications. The company is also working with hosting partners GlobalCenter and Exodus to support its customers' sites.

Bradmark & Summit Team Up

Bradmark Technologies and Summit Information Systems have partnered to provide an automated back-office solution for businesses running Summit's credit union system on HP e3000s. The solution integrates Bradmark's WinMPE/Command Center with Summit's Spectrum full-share, loan and general-ledger account package. WinMPE allows system administrators or operators to perform the majority of tasks on an HP e3000 from a Windows GUI environment.

"Basically, what this integration does is give HP e3000 users running Spectrum a GUI interface and system management tool for all the back-office effort and implementation they would normally do in a command line situation," says Mark Mitterlehner, Bradmark's Vice President of Sales. "We're replacing the command line with something user friendly. This should allow ... people who do not know MPE well to still manage an HP e3000 on the back office."

Bradmark has also tweaked WinMPE for the Spectrum software. "Working with Summit, we've changed some features in our standard product and changed some of the look and feel to match their needs," Mitterlehner says. "In other words, we've customized WinMPE, so that it deals with the Spectrum system very well."

Bradmark also plans to integrate WinMPE with other major applications and even some of the smaller ones that run on the HP e3000. "This is the first of many announcements involving integrating of WinMPE with other apps," Mitterlehner says.

Industry Forms B2B Exchange

Twelve industry heavyweights have stunned the industry by setting aside their rivalries and announcing they will launch an independent company that will serve as an Internet exchange. The participants include AMD, Compaq, Gateway, Hitachi, HP, Infineon, NEC, Quantum, Samsung, SCI Systems, Solectron and Western Digital.

The new venture will address supply chain inefficiencies in the computing and electronics-related industries by providing end-to-end services that are open and available to all parties in the supply-chain process - consumer and business electronics makers, contract manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. "The creation of such an exchange can improve supply-chain efficiency tremendously through cost reduction, timely transactions, inventory savings and high-value services," says Dr. Hau Lee, Professor of Operations, Information and Technology at Stanford Business School.

The founders initially expect to sink $100 million into the new company and will share equal ownership. That requires only a modest investment from each of the companies, which aim to take advantage of a big opportunity. They say $600 billion in high-tech components and parts will be sold online over the next few years. The companies also intend to take advantage of another opportunity presented by the exchange - the chance to reduce their own supply chain costs by using it to manage many of their own e-procurement purchases and sales.

The companies have established four goals for the exchange:

• a reduction in manufacturing and purchasing transaction costs through process efficiencies

• a reduction in inventory levels throughout the entire supply chain by better matching supply and demand via the online marketplace

• increased customer satisfaction due to faster service delivery

• provision of expertise on supply chain "best practices" to help participants achieve better results from product design to customer delivery

The exchange, expected to be operational within 90 days, is welcoming additional founding members during that time. IBM announced that it will partner with at least nine companies in the electronic industry to create its own B2B exchange.