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HP Pads Hitachi Storage Partnership

Hewlett-Packard Wednesday said it is extending its multi-billion dollar OEM and technology relationship with Tokyo-based Hitachi until 2008.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker said the hardware deal includes continued production of HP's high-end StorageWorks XP family including the development of its next-generation StorageWorks Disk Array XP family.

The relationship started back in May 1999 when HP said it would stop building the high-end storage systems. The company currently produces its MSA 1000 for low-end systems and EVA for midrange ones. HP's XP systems are designed for enterprise-class data centers and combine Hitachi's high-end disk array technology with HP-developed software, solutions and services.

"We've had four thousand units shipped since the original agreement, each one worth between a half million to a million dollars," said HP online storage division director Pete Korce. "We're seeing a lot of pick up in large companies especially Best Buy for their new music service as well as major phone companies and health care companies."

Since signing the original contract with Hitachi in, HP has continued to extend the XP technology and develop solutions around the XP family. The two sometimes rivals have even exchanged APIs. This includes a Pay-per-use solution announced in June and the new HP StorageWorks Multi-Site Disaster Tolerant Solution. The systems represent a key infrastructure component of the HP Adaptive Enterprise strategy, which battles IBM's "on-demand" program and Sun Microsystem's "N1" initiative for dominance in the server room.

Korce said HP's advantage in this area is that the strategy has been fully developed and even survived the merger between Compaq and HP unscathed.

"The team around XP is in tact and continues to work and as far as I know, we have no plans to replace the team," he said.

The HP StorageWorks Multi-Site Disaster Tolerant Solution combines HP software, networking, hardware and services to help customers recover application processing -- typically in less than one hour -- in the event of a local or regional disaster.

The idea is to use HP's StorageWorks Disk Array XP platform to let administrators coordinate and automate synchronizing data transfers across the three sites -- at the campus, a local metropolitan recovery site as well as a remote, "out of region" site.

For example, two nearby sites -- less than 60 miles apart -- can protect each other because data is mirrored synchronously to the second XP system. In the case of localized failure, one site can take over application processing to virtually the exact point where it was interrupted. A third site located well outside the region offers protection should the two most preferred sites be lost.

HP says its Consulting and Integration division will handle the new Disaster plan. The company says it can even tailor HP's management tools to a company's specific environment.