Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

HP Upgrades SMB SAN products

HP has upgraded its StorageWorks product line with two new models targeted at small-to-medium-sized businesses, now including features more typical of enterprise-level equipment. The HP P2000 G3, starting at $15,000, and the P4000 G2, starting at $30,000, are aimed at customers who may be making their first venture into establishing a storage area network (SAN) in their data centers.

Among the key features of the P2000 is an 8 Gb Fibre Channel (FC) controller, twice the data transfer capability of the previous model. It also offers a combo Fiber Channel and iSCSI controller, although the iSCSI data transfer rate is only 1 Gb. The combo controller accommodates high performance applications that need Fibre Channel connectivity, while other applications may need only an iSCSI connection. The 8 Gb FC controller and the combo controller are industry firsts at these prices. "We're beefing it up," said Charles Vallhonrat, product manager for the
P2000 G3. The term G3 stands for third generation of the modular smart
array product. "Customers are getting more value out of the product and
we're focused on increasing performance capabilities, scalability and
protecting the data."

Data protection is provided with the P2000's Remote Snap replication feature, which backs up data onto a second P2000 array, perhaps at a remote location. What HP calls its New Volume Copy software includes licenses for 64 snapshots of data. The features of the P2000 3G can also be added to an existing modular smart array by simply swapping out a previous generation controller with the G3 controller, he said. The P4000 G2 SAN array is optimized for working in virtualized environments with special management capabilities, although the P2000 can also store data from virtual servers. The P4000 features iSCSI storage management software from HP's acquisition of LeftHand Networks in 2008, said Chris McCall, product manager for the P4000.

Businesses virtualize their servers to increase server utilization and reduce the cost of electricity and cooling in the data center, McCall said. But virtualizing the server side means more work and expense on the storage side. "You're in a situation where you're building out your storage infrastructure to support your virtual servers," he said. "So costs can become a big issue and it can defeat the purpose of virtualizing the servers in the first place." The key feature of the P4000, then, is improved capacity utilization, McCall explained. If a system has 10 Tb of raw storage capacity, it may have only 5 Tb of usable storage because of the amount of capacity used for the RAID scheme. The P4000's SAN/iQ software improves capacity utilization by up to 50 percent, which means that with 10 Tb of raw storage, the system has 7.5 Tb of usable storage.

Natalya Yezhkova, a storage research manager for IDC, says the SMB storage market is hot for vendors like HP but added, "When they speak about SMBs, it's mainly medium and not small. What makes this segment especially attractive is the number of companies that are first-time SAN buyers." The 8 Gb FC controller and FC/iSCSI combo controller in the P2000, and the capacity utilization software on the P4000, are all impressive, she said, although on the whole, the HP products are "comparable" to SAN products from other vendors.