HP Plans EVA Facelift

Upgrades midrange systems to reverse downward storage skid

May 7, 2005

3 Min Read
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The Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) is no longer the invisible SAN.

HP today offered a sneak preview of the new EVA systems it plans to roll out May 16 at its annual StorageWorks Conference. It is HPs first major refresh of the EVA line since it added the EVA 3000 to the EVA 5000 in April 2003 (see HP, IBM Muscle Up Midrange and HP Launches EVA 3000).

Like Rip Van Winkle, HP missed out while it slept, failing to capitalize on the fastest growing SAN segment, midrange systems. That was one of the reasons analysts say HP storage hit rock bottom last summer when its revenue dropped 15 percent year-on-year (see HP Storage Down, But Improving and HP Storage Slammed).

Now HP's hoping to reverse the trend. It is replacing the EVA 3000 and 5000 with three new midrange models -- the EVA 4000, 6000, and 8000, all of which are shipping. Each model comes with dual controllers. The 4000 and 6000 have four host ports, and the 8000 has eight. The models feature Fibre Channel and HP's FATA drives. Pricing for the 4000 begins at $124,000 with 3.5 Tbytes. The 6000 starts at $221,000 with 6.7 Tbytes, and the 8000 at $409,000 with 14 Tbytes.

Prices include Command View management and Business Copy data protection software, which have been upgraded. Business Copy’s snapshot speed is increased, and Command View includes new wizards, Window GUIs, and tighter integration with HP servers. “We kind of leapfrog in speeds and feeds with our competitors, but it’s more about how easy the arrays are to integrate, and about their disaster recovery capabilities and simplified management,” says Kyle Fitzke, HP’s director of SAN marketing.Analysts say there’s nothing game-changing in the line -- except that it puts HP in the midrange SAN game after years of neglect.

HP made a range of performance claims in today's announcement, but Evaluator Group

analyst Randy Kerns says HP’s new EVA might fall short of IBM’s DS6000 in performance. Still, he maintains it probably "has as much performance as it needs.” Kerns also says HP was smart to break EVA into three models because there was too wide of a gap between the 3000 and 5000.

HP needs a success in the midrange badly. Because it resells Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)’s Tagmastore enterprise system, the EVA family is the flagship of HP’s internally manufactured storage line and its best hopes for a storage rebound (see HP Stays Hopeful on Storage).

Will HP’s swings produce a home run, a whiff, or something in the middle? It's too early to tell. The midrange is a favored battlefield for storage vendors (see IDC: Networked Storage Up, EMC Growth Continues and IBM's New Shark Tale). EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is due to refresh its Clariion later this year, and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) plans new low-end midrange systems that it gets through an OEM deal with Engenio Information Technologies Inc. to go with its high-end midrange DS6000 launched last year.

One thing: HP's new EVA systems have 2 Gbit/s controllers, even as its competitors start to roll out 4-gig systems. Fitze says HP plans to update EVA controllers with 4-gig interfaces early next year, although they already ship 4-gig switches and will offer 4-gig HBAs this summer.Four-gig systems are starting to show up in the midrange. Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) already announced a system built on Engenio’s 4-gig controller, and IBM is expected to do the same soon (see Four-Gig HBAs on Parade and Engenio Goes 4-Gig for HPC). EMC has yet to announce its 4-gig plans.

Still, systems will need 4-gig switches, HBAs, and hard drives before they have true 4-gig connectivity.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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