RealTime IT News

HP Makes Services Buy, Embraces DAT

HP is acquiring IT services provider Synstar for $297 million in cash to shore up its overseas presence as it battles IBM's Global Services division.

HP's Global Investments B.V. subsidiary agreed to buy the U.K.-based provider of managed services geared to deliver business availability across desktop configuration and data center environments.

Synstar serves 1,500 customers and boasts a direct delivery presence in eight European countries, helping customers manage IT infrastructure to reduce costs and increase service quality.

HP has made a few similar purchases as of late. In March, the Palo Alto, Calif., company acquired U.K.-based software management and licensing firm FH Computer Services (FHG) to round out its services division.

In other HP news, the company extended its pledge to support the storage industry back-up format Digital Audio Tape (DAT) in conjunction with back-up partner Certance.

The companies extended their roadmap for DAT to allow the partners to serve the data protection needs of small and medium businesses (SMBs). Some 6 million SMB customers rely on DAT for backup and restore of data in case primary disk storage systems fail.

According to high-tech researcher Gartner, worldwide industry unit shipments of DDS/DAT technology among all vendors in 2003 amounted to nearly 1 million units, or roughly 46 percent of the total tape units shipped for the year among all tape formats.

"Users in the SMB market place value on technologies and vendors that have staying power," said Fara Yale, research vice president, Gartner, in a statement. "These customers are also extremely price conscious and select storage solutions, including tape drives and media, that meet their budget. Tape remains a sustainable and cost-effective way for SMBs to store information."

For HP and Certance, the extended product roadmap runs through 2010 and includes three future product generations beyond the current, fifth-generation product called DAT72, which has a compressed capacity per cartridge of 72 gigabytes (GB) and a transfer rate of up to 7 megabytes (MB) per second.

The extended roadmap calls for performance and capacity increases of up to 600 GB compressed capacities per cartridge and transfer rates up to 32 MB per second to accommodate the explosion in data storage requirements in the wake of government regulations for long-term record retention.

Future DAT product generations will also feature backwards compatibility to protect customers' existing investments in Digital Data Storage (DDS) and DAT, as well as higher capacity and performance to meet the growing backup and restore requirements of SMBs.

Tape storage has been a point of contention in the industry, with storage vendors such as EMC openly questioning its usefulness. That changed in July when EMC reluctantly agreed that tape is a small but necessary part of its information lifecycle management strategy (ILM) for helping customers manage their data throughout its lifetime.

But vendors such as HP, IBM and StorageTek view tape as a vital part of heir storage businesses.

"HP will continue to focus on the tape market to provide customers with affordable, reliable, easy-to-use storage solutions that meet the data backup and protection demands of their businesses as they grow and evolve," said Bob Schultz, senior vice president and general manager, Network Storage Solutions, HP.