HP Reshuffles More Software

Vendor splits up hardware and software to marry server and storage management

January 24, 2007

4 Min Read
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HP has created yet another new company unit in its ongoing storage shakeup.

Today, the vendor announced the Enterprise Storage and Server (ESS) Software unit. (See HP Creates New Biz Unit.) Housed in HP's existing ESS division, it will bring together different software products from across HP. These include ProLiant Essentials for managing ProLiant servers, Virtual Server Environment (VSE) software, and Storage Essentials, which is based on technology from HP's AppIQ acquisition. (See HP Chomps AppIQ & Peregrine.)

HP's Storage Essentials was previously part of the vendor's StorageWorks division, which also contains SAN, NAS, and tape hardware. Bob Schultz, who oversaw the StorageWorks portfolio as SVP and GM, will now become vice president of the ESS Software unit, and the race is on to find someone to take care of storage hardware back in the StorageWorks division. "There is a search, both internally and externally, that is going on as we speak," says Duncan Campbell, vice president of marketing StorageWorks.

In the meantime, Schultz will continue to oversee both storage hardware and software, although HP expects to appoint his successor in the next few weeks.

For Schultz, the move appears to be lateral. He will continue to report to Scott Stallard, who is HP's VP of the ESS division. Stallard reports to Ann Livermore, EVP of HP's Technology Solutions Group. She in turn reports to CEO Mark Hurd. Ash Ashutosh, the former AppIQ CEO, will remain in his current role as CTO of the StorageWorks division.Today's reshuffle comes at a time when HP is under immense pressure to breathe new life into its storage operation. The vendor's storage business grew only 1 percent year-over-year in its fourth quarter, thanks in part to a slowdown in midrange EVA sales and less-than-stellar performance from its networked storage products. (See Storage Hurts HP's Quarter and HP Storage Gets off the Deck.)

HP has already overhauled its data management story as part of this ongoing effort. Last week, the vendor formed a new software group focused on data warehousing and archiving for markets such as telecom, retail, and transportation. (See HP's New Unit Meant to Spur Storage and HP Forms New Unit.)

The ESS Software unit will be tasked with its own mission. Underpinning the different pieces of software in the new unit will be HP's Systems Insight Manager (SIM) tool, which offers single sign-on across different pieces of hardware. The endgame is to develop products combining both server and software management.

But roadmap details remain fuzzy. "There will be much better integration than people have seen before," says Campbell, somewhat vaguely. He refused to reveal exactly when these products will be available.

There appears to be a need for server and storage software integration. As firms' data center hardware continues to grow, users are increasingly looking for software products that can manage both server and storage hardware. (See Config Combo Conundrum.) EMC, for its part, bought application discovery vendor nLayers and software management startup Smarts in an attempt to tie servers and storage together, while IBM is integrating server and storage management applications in its Tivoli platform. (See EMC Gets Smarts and Clarus Names Sales VP.)Setting up a separate software business unit is a bold move, says Dave Hill of analyst firm Mesabi Group. And he thinks slitting up hardware and software is a clear statement of intent. "HP probably believes that heterogeneous polygamy is better than proprietary monogamy," he says. Besides enabling the company to focus a bit better, he thinks today's move signals HP's desire to open up its server and storage management software to other vendors' hardware.

HP still faces some big challenges as it attempts to get its storage business back on track. "Both EMC and IBM seem to have broader portfolios," says Hill, adding that this has given them an edge over HP in areas such as document management and data protection.

Another area that will need attention is security. With HP's current attempts to pull together server and storage management, it appears likely that the firm is planning some form of authentication to lock down data across different devices -- particularly given its existing single sign-on capabilities across multiple packages.

HP's Campbell told Byte and Switch that the vendor is planning a security announcement related to ESS Software, although he was unwilling to divulge specifics. "It's coming up pretty quick," he says. "We're going to be talking a little bit more about that shortly."

The exec also hinted that other acquisitions may be on the cards as HP fleshes out the software unit over the coming months. "These possibilities are open to the company," he says, although he refused to confirm whether any deals are currently in the pipeline.James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Mesabi Group LLC

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