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

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.

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