RealTime IT News

HP Stows StorageApps Away

Palo Alto, Calif.'s Hewlett-Packard Co. Wednesday made a major move to fatten its storage management strategy Wednesday by buying Bridgewater, N.J.'s software maker StorageApps for $350 million in stock.

HP inked the deal to help customers set up and manage storage networks more easily. In incorporating StorageApp's technology, HP will also be able to allow customers to pool storage devices from different vendors, add capacity and move data among the devices independent of server operating systems or network infrastructure. This lets customers choose the best storage technology for their needs -- basically how far they want to scale. Such interoperability and ability to scale is key among so many hybridized networks.

In a much broader sense, the play is consistent with HP's formal-sounding Federated Storage Area Management (FSAM) strategy, in which the firm has pledged to help businesses meet the challenge of managing the expansion of storage systems. HP's goal with FSAM is to help customers increase their storage by a factor of ten without additional manpower.

Indeed, Enterprise Storage Group analyst Steve Duplessie told InternetNews.com Wednesday that he liked the aggressiveness of HP's move.

"This is one more signficant tool that proves HP is serious about the storage market," Duplessie said.

Duplessie said virtualization is important in facilitating interoperabilty between different vendors' devices; as an example, EMC's products would be able to work with IBM's storage products. Duplessie conceded that this has been a kind of Holy Grail among storage vendors and added that IBM is currently working on an inititative that addresses virtualization, called TANK.

Duplessie said the move sends a statement to rivals: "now we can compete."

HP Wednesday also joined forces with Adaptec Inc. to accelerate the adoption of storage networking solutions based on Internet protocols -- the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) iSCSI group. The solution will include Adaptec's AEA-7111C iSCSI host bus adapter, HP switches, tape libraries, disk arrays and HP OpenView management software.

iSCSI said the teaming of HP and Adaptec is a major design win for iSCSI and it will enable IT managers to grow SANs based on their existing Ethernet infrastructure. Formed this past April, the iSCSI group seeks to promote the iSCI standard, which was created to transmit block-level data over native IP storage area networks (SANs).

"Our research indicates quality, reliability and strong technical support are important SAN purchasing criteria," said Robert Gray, director of storage research for International Data Corporation (IDC). "The HP and Adaptec announcement, coming from well known suppliers, is an important ratification of IP storage. This agreement helps position both companies to be strong IP storage vendors."

IP storage capitalizes on existing Ethernet infrastructure and IT staff competency and to build SANs; its goal is minimize interoperability issues and allow IT managers to enhance the performance of their data storage.

The pact between HP and Milpitas, Calif.'s Adaptec complements HP's storage networking strategy (and StorageApps purchase) to deliver complete networked storage solutions based on the emerging iSCSI standard.

Nora Denzel, vice president and general manager, HP Network Storage Solutions Organization, said the purchase of Storage Apps makes her firm a complete networked storage solutions provider.

"StorageApps virtualization accelerates our FSAM momentum and allows customers to more quickly and efficiently take advantage of new technology while protecting their legacy investments," Denzel said. "This gives customers freedom of choice to mix and match storage technologies from many vendors, allow storage devices to be connected to the network as they are needed and move data between different vendors' storage devices."

The transaction is intended to be structured as a tax-free reorganization and accounted for as a purchase. Upon completion of the transaction, StorageApps will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of HP.