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HP Proposes Open Storage Management

HP is sticking to its storage management guns in the face of the Aperi open source consortium IBM launched last week.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company has released Storage Essentials 5.0, the latest version of its storage resource management (SRM) software, as an alternative to Aperi, a group formed to work on a common storage software management platform.

The package includes assets from HP's purchase of vendor AppIQ, which closed last week.

AppIQ makes StorageAuthority, a suite of SRM and storage area network (SAN) management tools geared to help businesses with several types of hardware work as one. With AppIQ's technology, IT administrators can control all of their storage gear through one console.

This dovetails perfectly with Storage Essentials, a crucial component of HP's bid to help customers unify server and storage management. Such unity can help customers work around application performance bottlenecks that hinder storage networks.

After introducing the Storage Essentials 5.0 on a conference call with members of the press today, Frank Harbist, vice president and general manager of information lifecycle management (ILM) and storage software for HP, and HP CTO Ash Ashutosh, weathered questions about how HP intends to contend with Aperi.

Aperi, a Latin expression meaning "to open," includes Brocade Communication Systems, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates, Engenio Information Technologies, Fujitsu Limited, IBM, McData, Sun Microsystems and Network Appliance. While the list read like a veritable who's who in the storage sector, notable absentees included HP and EMC.

Harbist said HP's philosophy differs from IBM and the others and that the company was creating a heterogeneous, open platform by implementing the technology from its AppIQ purchase.

"Our intent is unchanged," Harbist said. "We firmly believe that it's in the best interest of our industry to have a standardized, heterogeneous-oriented SRM platform.

"We have been and continue to work with standards bodies to drive that vision to reality. The way you do that is focus on standards bodies as the means of driving that, focus on a specification and then you orient yourself in terms of how to implement that."

Harbist would not say whether or not HP will join Aperi, open to all who want to join, in the future.

Ashutosh, until recently AppIQ's CTO, cautioned members of the press that open source, which is what Aperi pledges, does not necessarily translate to open standards and free software.

"Open source is not open standards," Ashutosh said on the call. "Building something based on open standards is the key to making innovation faster in the industry. We try to focus on what the right process is."

Storage Essentials was created using such open standards as DMTF-CIM, SMI-S and J2EE, and integrates with HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM) software, geared for unified infrastructure management.

HP SIM server features can be extended by adding HP ProLiant Essentials, HP Integrity or HP Storage Essentials plug-ins to help customers manage their server and storage gear from the same application interface.

Over the next six to 12 months, Harbist said HP plans to enhance support for heterogeneous infrastructures and use the AppIQ software and Storage Essentials in automation enablement technology for HP BladeSystem environments, cluster virtualization, grid management and reporting tools.

The idea is to help customers meet the explosion in data storage at a time when compliance regulations are forcing corporations to take a hard look at how they are storing and managing data.