RealTime IT News

ILM Still A Major Storage Play For HP

HP, in the midst of recovering lost market share in the market for storing data, released a new virtualization appliance and several pieces of software to spruce up its information lifecycle management (ILM) suite.

Made popular by EMC, HP and other vendors for the last few years, ILM is a storage strategy that relies on several tiers of storage to capture, retain and kick data to the curb when a company is done with it.

The strategy, which has triggered myriad new hardware and software releases, owes its provenance to the slew of corporate compliance regulations that hold businesses responsible for retaining records.

HP is hoping to use the new products to continue to take share in the storage systems space. HP's networked storage revenue grew 4 percent in the first quarter from Q1 2005 with sales of its EVA mid-range storage arrays and XP high-end machines up 28 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Those results are a vast improvement over HP's weak third quarter 2004 in storage, when sales plummeted 15 percent.

First of note is the HP StorageWorks 200 Virtualization System, an in-band appliance that virtualizes, or pools, data from different vendors' storage arrays and allows it to be cleanly rendered in a single pool.

The 200 pulls the virtualization software from the company's XP machines and dumps it into a smaller appliance to migrate large amounts of data.

EMC's Invista software performs similar functions, albeit using a stateless, "out-of-band" architecture.

But Frank Harbist, vice president and general manager of ILM and storage software at HP, said the StorageWorks 200 offers customers a new option, because it has no single point of failure. Moreover, Harbist said the 200 will "cream" Invista in terms of performance.

Capitalizing on the popularity of storing information on the fly, HP introduced StorageWorks Continuous Information Capture as a solution for continuously capturing database and application information without affecting performance.

Using software from continuous data protection provider Mendocino, this software enables users to recall information from any point in time, an important feature for customers who need to isolate files down to the exact page.

While many vendors have put the foundation pieces for ILM in place, the new trend is making storage tiers more fine-grained or intelligent, adding broader layers of functionality to the combination of hardware and software systems.

HP is one of those vendors.

For example, HP has tacked on several capabilities to the company's StorageWorks Reference Information Manager (RIM), which reduces the cost of e-mail storage by shuttling specific messages from users' mailboxes to a lower-cost archive pool.

RIM for Messaging appeared in March 2005 to help customers set policies for moving messages out of users' Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino mailboxes and into HP RISS.

HP upped the ante in March 2005 by offering RIM for Database, which manages data growth by relocating infrequently used data to an easily accessed archive database.

RIM for Database was created thanks to HP's partnership and subsequent purchase of OuterBay.

HP today unveiled RIM for Database 2.0, which has new functionality that migrates and converts database records in an XML format to the StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System (RISS).

RISS helps users locate specific files by triggering full-text indexes.

Harbist said the latest iteration, RIM for Files, captures files stored on Windows desktops and file servers and moves them into the RISS, which now stores up to 1.4 terabytes per smart cell.

RISS also now has block single instancing for fine-grained storage compression.

By addressing e-mail through messaging, database applications and files, RIM now handles the three major data forms: semi-structured, structured and unstructured.

Harbist argues that this gives HP a leg up on the competition, making it attractive for customers who need complete data management.

Other HP products, the new StorageWorks Application Recovery Manager and OpenView Storage Data Protector 6.0, target data recovery and business continuity, major areas of concern for data-heavy corporations in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.