HP's Shorty Packs Storage Punch

Intro of 'Shorty' heralds similar move by IBM and a trend toward targeted blade solutions

September 14, 2007

3 Min Read
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Hewlett-Packard is shipping a substantially smaller and less power-hungry version of its enterprise blade server. But an accompanying storage blade, also new, could make small a big deal for some non-enterprise users.

Nicknamed "Shorty," the HP BladeSystem c3000 is roughly half the size of a full-featured HP BladeCenter c7000. It's an eight-slot enclosure that measures just 10.5 inches high and plugs directly into 110- or 220-volt wall outlets -- a happy change from the data-center-class power setup of HP's larger units.

But with the addition of another new product, the All-in-One (AiO) SB600c storage blade, Shorty gains some storage stature. This blade adds 1.16 Tbytes of SAS storage, plus NAS, iSCSI connectivity, snapshots, optional mirroring, and integration with HP's tape backup software.

Shorty and the SB600c are both shipping now, priced from $4,300 and $9,968, respectively.

For better or worse, Shorty-plus-SB600c has a Byzantine set of fine points and interconnections with other HP products that could turn up both pleasant and unpleasant surprises. Here's a sampling of some of them:

  • Shorty works with all of the HP ProLiant, Integrity, and StorageWorks server and storage blades the c7000 does.

  • The backup software used on the SB600c blade is HP's Data Protector Express (DPX) software and features the same wizards and interfaces.

  • The SB600c software stack also includes a scripting interface for help integrating third-party backup software.

  • The SB600c can link to a backup server or to an Ultrium 448c Tape Blade ($2,000) in the c3000 chassis, or via iSCSI over the network to an HP VLS1000i or an HP D2D Backup System.

  • Data (like SQL or Exchange) can be migrated from older servers to the SB600c via an integral Application Storage Manager (ASM, a common feature of All-in-One products) in the module.

  • Raw capacity of the SB600c is 1.16 Tbytes, of which 30 Gbytes is required for the AiO software stack. That remaining storage can be used for NAS, but capacity depends on RAID settings and other variables.

  • The SB600c includes two 1-Gbyte Ethernet ports and incorporates Microsoft iSCSI Target Software to create iSCSI LUNs on the blade.

One can read some limitations between the lines. Third-party backup integration may not be easy to achieve out of the box, and adoption of this blade server could mean a transfer of all backup and storage applications to HP hardware and software.

At the same time, HP realizes the importance of hand-holding for the mid-range crowd. The new products are sold with services geared toward smaller businesses. Channel partners have prepped Citrix, Microsoft, Oracle, Sage, SAP, and VMware integration, and they're also ready to offer "Solution Blocks" of server and storage blades with various apps.

HP's release foreshadows IBM's anticipated release of its previously announced IBM BladeSystem S in mid-December. That product is also a small, 110-volt, pluggable chassis, but its storage capabilities haven't been specified.

Since HP and IBM hold roughly 47 percent and 32 percent of the overall blade server market, respectively (according to IDC figures), their push toward smaller form factors and customers is significant. It resonates with other announcements this week by storage firms intent on mining demand among smaller companies for more than "dumbed down" versions of enterprise products.

But at least one analyst says success with users will come from the quality of hand-holding offered by each supplier, instead of from specific features and functions alone. "It's one thing for a product to be easy to use," says Greg Schulz of The StorageIO Group. "Another, separate issue is how easy it is to find and actually buy an applicable solution. Whoever can figure out how to make buying servers and storage easier will win -- and then get to show off their easy-to-use GUIs."Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • IDC

  • The StorageIO Group

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