HP Fills In SMB Storage

AiO offers iSCSI and NAS for block and file storage, but no Fibre Channel

September 19, 2006

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Hewlett-Packard today added substance to its SMB storage system first disclosed in July, unveiling its StorageWorks All-in-One, or AiO.

If the All-in-One name sounds familiar, that's because HP also uses that name for its multifunctional printers -- also aimed at SMBs.

The AiO offers iSCSI and NAS for block and file storage in the same system, with no Fibre Channel connectivity. The system is based on HP ProLiant servers with Microsoft's Storage Server and the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target. HP integrates its Data Protector Express backup software, and developed a series of wizards to quickly migrate and set up storage for Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and FileShare.

The AiO competes with the Network Appliance StoreVault launched in June, and the EMC/Dell AX150 rolled out in April. (See NetApp Zeroes In on SMBs, SNW: Small, SAS-sy & Safe, and EMC Upgrades SMB SANs) AiO is available now.

HP revealed it would dip into the SMB space in July but gave few product details then. (See HP Builds SANs for SMBs.) What took so long to move into the SMB space, which HP claims is still more than 60 percent direct attached? Before launching its system, HP first hired a research firm to find what SMBs wanted. The earth-shattering results revealed they want systems that are reliable, easy to use, and cheap."Nothing too surprising there," says HP director of network attached storage Harry Baeverstad. "We just asked, 'What do you mean by simpler?' " Instead of making it easier to deploy LUNs and RAID groups we decided to get rid of them and developed our set-up wizard and the AiO Storage Manager."

The AiO is available in two models. The AiO 600 comes in a tower with six drive bays or a 5U rack-mountable format, and is available with SATA or SAS drives. It scales to 3 Tbytes and can expand to 21 Tbytes by connecting to HP's MSA 20 low-end SAN. Pricing starts at $6,500 for 1.5 Tbytes. A 3 Tbyte configuration costs $8,700, and an 876 Gbyte SAS configuration costs $9,000.

The AiO 400 is a 1U rack-mountable system which scales to 1 Tbyte and expands to 13 Tbyte with the MSA20, although HP recommends users don't go above 7 TBytes. Pricing for the 400 starts at $5,000 for 1 Tbyte; the 400 is also SATA only.

How does this compare to competitors? NetApp's StoreVault S500 is a 2U system that holds up to 12 SATA drives for a maximum of 6 Tbytes. Pricing starts at around $5,000 for 1 Tbyte. The AX 150 is a 2U system that starts at $5,600 for 750 Gbytes. Only the AX 150 is available with dual controllers. EMC is preparing to extend its SMB family by early 2007. (See EMC Eyes SMB Push.)

While StoreVault is iSCSI and NAS now, NetApp has plans to add Fibre Channel connectivity. The AX 150 is SAN only, and is available as Fibre Channel or iSCSI.Baeverstad says HP can add Fibre Channel to the AiO down the road if there is customer demand, but he doesn't expect any. "If our customers say they need Fibre Channel, its something we can do," he explains. "So far, we haven't heard that. Customers say 'Make it simple.' Once you add Fibre Channel, complexity becomes an issue again."

According to Baeverstad, the AiO's sweet spot is for customers with between three and seven servers, while the low-end MSA Fibre Channel SAN is best for seven to 15 servers. He says the AiO is a good fit for branch offices of large corporations.

David Lay, director of IT for the 50-employee Tampa, Fla.-based Salem Law Group, estimates he saved at least $20,000 by using two AiO systems in his main office and collocation site and replicating between the two with Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS).

Lay says the system was so easy to set up his administrative assistant did it, and says it is much easier to manage than direct attached storage. "When you try to piece things together, all the different applications, literally it's a mess," he says. "With All-in-One, all the storage goes on your box."

What it doesn't do yet is let Lay consolidate all his backups. The Data Protector Express software that ships with AiO only protects data on the system. "They're working on making that the backup for all your application servers, so you can run backups to your All-in-One box, then do a tape backup from there," he says."The way it is now, you might have backups going to this disk or some going to this tape. It's literally a juggling act. If I can take a box for $5,000 and take five application servers and back it up to the same box, I have a central place to put it all on tape. It will save me money and time."

And he didn't need a paid study to figure that out.

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • NeoScale Systems Inc.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights