That Rumbling Sound: HP’s Midrange Products

Looking to reclaim some of its lost market share in the storage sector, HP next week will release a slew of products that help businesses preserve, manage and archive data.

The company will embark on its greatest product launch to date next week when it announces new hardware and services at its HP Americas StorageWorks Conference in Las Vegas.

The systems giant hopes to win back some of the share it lost to rivals EMC, IBM and Sun Microsystems last year after storage revenues plummeted 15 percent in Q3 2004.

To do that, the Palo Alto, Calif., company is looking to target medium-sized businesses, according to analysts.

On tap from the company’s StorageWorks line are the:

  • 4000, 6000, and 8000 Enterprise Virtual Arrays to replace the current 3000 and 5000 EVA machines. The machines will scale from 35 terabytes to 70 terabytes, replicating data from businesses of different sizes
  • Enterprise File Services (EFS) Clustered Gateway, the company’s first enterprise network-attached storage (NAS) product, The gateway helps serve files at one-third to half the cost of competing systems
  • EFS WAN Accelerator, which pipes branch office applications over the WAN, rooting out repetitive traffic and latency. HP promises a 20-fold increase in bandwidth and as much as a 100-fold increase in throughput
  • Virtual Library System, which reduces backup bottlenecks and simplifies the protection of data on a storage area network (SAN). The VTL bundles with backup applications, scaling in capacity and performance. HP has embarked on an OEM deal with continuous data protection provider Sepaton in which it will use the startup’s software to ramp up backup performance for the Virtual Library System, model 6000
  • Enterprise Modular Library E-series, an enterprise tape library that
    runs from 103 to over 440 cartridges

The products, positioned as lower cost alternatives to rival systems, are all geared to help customers shepherd information from its inception until its deletion.

Analysts call this information lifecycle management (ILM) and argue it is a vital movement to help corporations comply with government compliance regulations. To that end, HP has also proposed an ILM services framework to provide customers consulting, support and management services.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Tony Asaro commended HP for stepping up to offer a lot of different products that customers are demanding to shore up their ILM strategies. He also said it is important to answer storage leader EMC.

“One of the things that we’ve always noticed is that EMC has a large
portfolio of products, whether it was their own technology or whether they partnered with someone,” Asaro said.

He continued: “I’ve always referred to the large vendors as sleeping
giants. Not just HP, but Sun and IBM as well. They have to round out their portfolios. Surround the wagons! Your customers are buying from someone so they might as well buy it from you.”

HP has a challenge on its hands, with EMC having such a dominant portion of the storage market. IBM and Sun are coming on strong, too.

The good news is that the storage market represents more than $63 billion according to IDC, meaning sales opportunities could abound for those that sell themselves right.

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