Compaq's StorageWorks EVA products will provide the mid-range of Hewlett-Packard's storage systems, with earlier Compaq products and competing HP devices being phased out gradually. The high-end HP storage products, which are sourced from Hitachi, will remain, according to the new head of the combined HP/Compaq storage business, Howard Elias, clarifying the company's storage strategy in an exclusive interview with ZDNet UK. Elias said that Compaq's EVA product, which was launched late in 2001, will expand to replace earlier products from both companies -- Compaq's Enterprise Modular Array (EMA) and HP's Virtual Array (VA). But, he added, this will happen slowly: "We are trying to make these product changes within a normal product life cycle." "We will make sure we are crisp about this, but provide a reasonable time for customers to get benefit from these products," said Elias. A new version of the VA will be shipped this summer as planned, he said, and the product will be supported and have spares available for five years. Elias said this made HP products -- even those it is phasing out -- more stable than many others in the industry: "This is more certainty and comfort than just about anyone else I know of can offer," he said. At the high end, the overlap between the Hitachi Lightning, which HP resells as its XP product, and Compaq's StorageWorks EVA has been overstated, said Elias. "The two products may overlap, but they are different kinds of solution," he said. The XP product is for those using monolithic scalable data storage, while EVA has a lower entry point and is more suited to open systems. "As it turns out, the products and customers are largely complementary." Overall, the merger is going better than Compaq's takeover of Digital Equipment four years ago, said Elias, who came from Digital and headed Compaq's storage business until the merger with Hewlett-Packard. "There is no comparison with the Digital merger," he said. "We are easily six months ahead (of Compaq at the equivalent stage of its take-over of Digital)."