HP bids to regain the storage high ground

Not be outdone by a raft of new announcements from arch-rival EMC, HP has made its own slew of storage software announcements and hardware updates

On Monday, in what it dubbed "the largest new storage announcement in years", HP rolled out four new products and three enhanced ones.

One key part of the lineup is an update to the StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System (RISS), a storage server for archiving large amounts of data. Version 1.5 will store 1.4TB and uses single block instancing (SBI), a technique that can dramatically reduce the amount of space required for any given set of data.

New hardware in the announcement includes the StorageWorks 200 virtualisation system, which is effectively an HP XP storage array without the disk storage. It offers companies a diskless, virtualised storage array that can be used with storage hardware from other vendors, such as IBM, EMC and HDS.

HP is facing stiff competition in the storage market after EMC came out with its own raft of product announcements earlier in the year, including a new high-end storage array — which EMC claims is the biggest general purpose storage array in the world — and new entry-level products for the SME market. These were followed by new low-end products from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and now NetApps says it will be launching its first high-end storage products in May.

Not that business is bad for HP. Like most storage vendors, the company is finding business driven by issues such as compliance and by the never-ending expansion of storage capacity. "We see three key drivers," said Frank Harbist, HP's general manager of ILM and Storage Software. "The phenomenal growth in storage [capacity],... the issues around compliance and the need to use information for business leverage."

Harbist said the latest announcements complete HP's ILM strategy which is "the most complete in the industry" when it comes to helping customers "capture, manage, retain and deliver information according to its business value".

The StorageWorks RISS is an active-archiving solution is that stores, indexes and retrieves reference data. According to HP, the latest version lowers the cost per-terabyte "by up to 75 percent by offering higher-capacity smart cells and delivering three to five times more compression through block single instancing". Harbist said SBI was only one factor among many helping improve performance.

Another introduction is StorageWorks for Continuous Information Capture, which continuously captures enterprise database and application information for extraction and allows roll-back to any point.