HP takes independent approach to storage

Compaq and IBM are working together to develop storage software, but HP would rather go it alone with its OpenView management suite due for release next month

When it comes to heterogeneous storage, Hewlett-Packard is taking the lone ranger approach.

Next month the company will release a software family designed to give IT administrators the ability to consolidate disparate storage systems under one management console -- regardless of the hardware the storage resides on. But while companies like Compaq Computer and IBM work together to develop the software fabric for heterogeneous storage, HP is going at it alone with what it calls the HP Federated Storage Area Management strategy.

"Compaq did not have a high-end and IBM did not have a midrange (storage product)," said Nora Denzel, HP's vice president and general manager for network storage solutions. "Theirs was a marriage of convenience. They did what made sense to them. We did not have that problem."

HP has developed a group of software pieces that will be leveraged under the OpenView brand to do topology discovery, provide charts on performance utilisation and deliver reports that gauge storage capacity. HP officials say that more than 80 percent of their customers' storage is direct-attached -- meaning it is tied to a server as opposed to a centrally located disk array.

Centralising storage is key to customers looking for efficiency and savings, HP officials said. One of HP's software layers is called the OpenView Storage Node Manager, which gives IT managers a topology map of the storage devices and signals the health of the systems. Another, the OpenView Storage Optimiser, helps manage performance by providing charts and graphs that measure performance in real-time and historically. And the OpenView Storage Builder focuses on managing storage capacity, whether at the department level or by specific users.

"For the Storage Service Provider market, this mechanism is really important," said Magdy Assem, HP's marketing manager for scalable network storage.

Another piece is the OpenView Storage Allocator, which enables customers to allocate LUNs (Logical Unit Numbers) to specific hosts.

"You can connect LUNs to hosts dynamically without rebooting the system," Assem said.

All of the products are expected to ship in April.

Also in April HP will release the Network Storage Appliance, which will have both storage area network and network-attached storage capabilities, officials said.

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