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HP, IBM Make Virtual Motions

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) are both readying new storage virtualization systems -- although HP is already on its fifth generation, while IBM is just gearing up its first.

Next month, HP will roll out a new version of OpenView Continuous Access Storage Appliance (CASA), the product formerly known as StorageApps. Version 5.5 of CASA, expected be available in May, will run on two HP ML370 ProLiant servers with six PCI-X bus slots and 2.8GHz processors.

The performance boost allows CASA 5.5 to support up to 24 Fibre Channel interfaces, compared with 16 previously. HP has also finally integrated the system with the OpenView Storage Area Management (SAM) application, allowing administrators to manage CASA from a central point. The system, which HP says provides up to 50,000 I/O operations per second (IOPS), will carry the same starting list price of $122,500. It offers data replication among multiple vendors' arrays, including those from HP, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) (but not IBM).

"The momentum is clearly building for this product," says Mark Sorenson, vice president of HP's storage software division.

HP claims to have sold more than 500 of these CASA units to date. HP bought StorageApps in July 2001, in a deal worth $350 million. That averages out to an expenditure of $700,000 for each $122,500 sale. To be fair, this market is just starting to take off -- but still! (See HP Recasts Virtualization Box.)

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