HP Builds SANs for SMBs

With storage spending at low end, HP unveils sub-$10K IP SAN to compete with EMC, NetApp

July 25, 2006

3 Min Read
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MALBOROUGH, Mass. -- The SAN battle is heating up on the low end, with Hewlett-Packard today revealing plans for a new iSCSI SAN line for small and mid-sized business.

HP gave a "sneak preview" of the new system at a media event here today, but disclosed few details except to say it will ship around September and cost about $5,000 for 1 Tbyte, plus a complete set of management software. The announcement comes a month after NetApp launched its StoreVault SMB system and a week after EMC CEO Joe Tucci said his company will expand its platform of SANs for SMBs. (See NetApp Zeroes In on SMBs and EMC Eyes SMB Push.)

Why all the fuss about the low end? That's where the growth is expected in storage. Debbie Young, HP's maketing manager, estimates the SMB storage market could hit $2.5 billion in 2008. But storage vendors have been pointing at SMBs for years now without making much of a mark. HP says the trick will be to deliver a system that is easy to manage and costs between $5,000 and $10,000.

HP's system will match StoreVault's price for 1 Tbyte. The NetApp systems scale to 6 Tbytes and will eventually offer Fibre Channel connectivity through kits from QLogic for an extra $4,000 or more.

Young won't say yet how much capacity HP will make available for $10,000. She says Fibre Channel is not in the roadmap because the systems are aimed at customers with no Fibre Channel expertise and no desire to get into Fibre Channel."We're not saying, 'Come into the storage world and talk about LUNs and mirroring.' That's just not something they're going to do," she says. "That's why they're sticking with direct attached storage."

The major difference between the coming HP system and NetApp's StoreVault is that NetApp uses the same DataOntap OS for StoreVault that runs on its other disk systems. HP's systems will be based on Windows Storage Server 2003 R2.

"Data OnTap is easy to manage if you understand storage," Young says.

HP sells NAS boxes based on Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 to handle files. The new systems will also provide block storage through additional HP software. Ash Ashutosh, CTO of HP's StoreWorks division, says the software will be unique to the SMB system rather than a scaled down version of HP's current management software.

"They won't even know there's management software in there," he says. "It's dramatically different."HP may have trouble convincing customers of the dramatic difference between its SMB system and its recently launched MSA1050i -- the iSCSI version of its current low-end SAN family. Young says the MSA system is for customers who have Fibre Channel expertise; pricing starts at around $20,000.

But about an hour after Young made her preview presentation, HP director of SAN marketing Kyle Fitze described the MSA1510i as "targeted for SMBs who are predominantly employing direct attached or NAS today," and don't have Fibre Channel networks. "The benefits are simplicity, affordability, and the ability to connect it to iSCSI," Fitze says. He also described MSA1510i customers as first-time SAN users.

When asked the difference between that customer and the customer for the new system, Fitze says: "The SMB is a general purpose, all-in-one storage device. The MSA is really block-based storage for application data. You're going to have better performance for the MSA1510i for block storage."

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Network Appliance Inc.

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