HP Sets Sights on Storage Automation

Plans its first storage automation product, but questions surround market requirements

November 27, 2007

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

HP fleshed out its automation strategy today, bulking up its software in an attempt to rejuvenate its storage business.

"We're getting a deep level of automation across the board," said Ben Horowitz, vice president of HP's Business Technology Optimization division, during a conference call at the vendor's Software Universe event in Barcelona, Spain.

HP is unveiling a somewhat loosely defined product line called Automated Operations 1.0. This will encompass a set of software for automating and managing both business and IT services, according to the exec.

On the storage side, HP is looking to tie the provisioning elements of its Storage Essentials software to the Application Storage Automation System (ASAS) product it acquired when it bought Opsware for $1.6 billion earlier this year.

Storage provisioning was the missing piece when ASAS was launched a few months ago, although HP claims to have now closed this loop."Storage Essentials will be combined with ASAS to provide our first storage automation product," Helen Tang, HP's director of software product marketing, told Byte and Switch, explaining that provisioning technology from the vendor's 2005 AppIQ acquisition will be added to ASAS's reporting technology.

The combined product will be available in mid-2008, according to the exec, who added that Opsware's ASAS will not exist as a standalone product after that time.

Up until now, storage has typically been left out of broader IT automation schemes, but HP clearly hopes that its efforts will eliminate the manual configuration errors that cause the bulk of system failures.

Although still in its relative infancy, other vendors have also turned their attention to storage automation. EMC, for example, unveiled two products earlier this year that track storage wares and activate automated provisioning of EMC, HP, and HDS hardware.

Onaro also recently added capacity management and some provisioning features to its SANScreen product line. Characterized by at least one user as halfway toward fully automated storage, Onaro has combined scripting of storage procedures with a GUI, enabling IT managers to forecast specific requirements for different storage tiers.Another automation vendor focusing attention on storage is BladeLogic, which partners with both Onaro and EMC. Although traditionally focused on servers, BladeLogic is planning a tighter integration of storage into its wares.

Despite HP's marketing spiel, not all users are crying out for this level of storage automation.

"I don't think that there's any huge demand here, probably because we're managing to keep on top of things," says Lewis Nodes, data center manager at the University of London's Royal Holloway College, which uses a mix of EMC and HP storage.

The exec admits that he may look at building more storage automation into his systems at some point in the future. "There clearly would be some benefits from some sort of self-service file restore," he says. For now, though, that area is covered. "The level of file restores that we have to do because people have lost something is at a manageable level."

Other IT managers have also voiced their reluctance to embrace storage automation, citing the possibility of losing control of their systems.Although HP has not yet revealed pricing for its storage automation offering, the software is part of a broader effort to manage servers and storage from a single interface, according to Tang.

The vendor also enhanced its Storage Essentials product line today, taking the wraps off version 6.0 of the software. This includes a cache database viewer for checking how Oracle, Sybase, and SQL applications affect the performance of HBAs and Fibre Channel ports, and the addition of a "cluster discovery" feature.

"We will auto-discover Microsoft and Sun clusters out-of-the-box," says Dean Snyder, HP's marketing planning manager for Storage Essentials, adding that this feature will eventually be extended to include Veritas clusters.

The vendor has also added something called a "Performance Pack" to the Storage Essentials product. "That's going to probe deep into our Enterprise Virtual Array," explains Snyder, adding that this will provide 75 different types of performance data. "You will see performance on the controllers, on the individual drives, and on the back end of the system."

Storage has been something of a sore point for HP over the last few years, and the vendor recently reshuffled its software divisions in an attempt to breathe life into its storage sales and boost its data management story.Storage Essentials 6.0 will be available next year, priced at $20,000 for 50 Fibre Channel ports.

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.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • MySQL AB

  • Onaro Inc.

  • Opsware Inc. (Nasdaq: OPSW)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW)

  • Sybase Inc.

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

You May Also Like

More Insights