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HP Details Storage Virtualization Moves

Hewlett-Packard Co. -- who earlier Monday booted the dissenting Walter Hewlett from consideration for its board of directors -- unveiled its storage virtualization strategy and a new midrange HP StorageApps sv3000 appliance.

Storage virtualization describes the method of unifying storage systems into a large pool that keeps track of where information is located. With virtualization, people don't have to know which system stores their data. HP's strategy, a clearer definition for the initiative HP calls Federated Storage Area Management (FSAM), is a move to increase storage efficiency by optimizing the way storage is used and the importance of the role that management and virtualization play within storage architectures. Virtualization, and by extension, FSAM, makes it possible for businesses to employ fewer IT people to manage storage.

While competitors such as Compaq Computer Corp. and IBM Corp. also tout their own virtualization processes, HP believes the right route is to fuse management with virtualization in the enterprise.

"Virtualization without management is useless. By giving our customers a logical way to view and manage their data -- and by freeing them from having to invest in software from each array vendor -- we're taking storage management to a new level," said Nora Denzel, vice president and general manager, HP Network Storage Solutions Organization.

Research firm Aberdeen Group affirmed both the importance and potential for growth of storage software, noting that spending in this sector will top $21.2 billion by 2005.

"Sparked by three IS imperatives - reining in the costs of managing storage, fulfilling IS' fiduciary responsibility for protecting the information assets of the enterprise, and squeezing out more productivity with fewer budget dollars - the storage management software market will experience more rapid growth over the next several years than might have been anticipated even six months ago," says David Hill, Aberdeen Research Director, Storage and Storage Management.

Virtualization and FSAM really ramped up in July 2001 for HP, when the firm bought virtualization software maker StorageApps for $350 million in stock. In September, HP began slowly revealing its integration progress of that firm with the presentation of software, hardware and services.

The following month, at the Storage Networking World in Orlando, Fla., HP demonstrated a 1.75-inch high server, called a SureStore SANlink appliance, that allows virtualization between host and storage environments. Also in October, Aberdeen analyst Dan Tanner discussed and endorsed HP's storage moves in a research note.

In addition to hawking software, HP is crafting fabric-based storage appliances, which complement existing virtualization technology, such as its new HP StorageApps sv3000 appliance. In keeping with virtualization theory, this device lets customers pool and manage both legacy and new physical storage resources from different vendors and share those resources across different servers.

Priced at $125,000 and slated for a May 2002 release, the iSCSI-ready HP StorageApps sv3000 features data protection through improved replication and failover protection; improved data use from compacted point-in-time imaging; Linux support, as well as support for Compaq StorageWorks, EMC Symmetrix, Hitachi Data Systems and Dell storage arrays.