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HP to go solo in storage market

Hewlett Packard is to offer its own open storage area network (SAN) distancing itself from old partner EMC in an attempt to stand alone in the storage market.

The announcement of a raft of hardware and software products strengthens HP's desire to be the number one company in storage and signals a change of direction for the computer giant. The decision sees HP teaming up with Hitachi to offer a high-end, multiplatform system snappily named SureStore E Disk Array MC256 which will become a direct competitor to the EMC systems previously offered by HP.

The move away from the proprietary storage solution offered by EMC comes as a result of changing customer needs according to HP's chief operating officer for enterprise computing solutions Bill Russell. He denied the relationship with EMC was soured by the decision and said HP would continue to sell EMC products as well as their own. "The difference of opinion between EMC and ourselves developed recently. EMC weren't prepared to change the model. We agreed to disagree and took a different route," he said. The emergence of two systems would not lead to a price war Russell claimed. That is not our intention, we just want to give customers what they need," he said.

Meta group analyst Rakesh Kumar described HP's decision as " a bold move" and one certain to affect EMC's business in the short term. "EMC is strong in its own right and by the end of the year will be back on track. There is sufficient room for both to grow rapidly," he said. Kumar welcomed HP's decision to offer an end-to-end solution, putting the company in a strong position in the burgeoning storage market. "It is a more sophisicated solution compared to Sun," he said.

HP promised "stress-free storage" for businesses. According to HP marketing manager David Scott the demands on storage will grow as e-business and the Internet become integral to companies. He predicted 50 percent of IT spending will be on storage by 2001.

MC256 will support mulitvendor UNIX, Microsoft Windows NT, MPE and mainframe environments and offers multiplatform SAN support wiht connections to HP-UX, Solaris, AIX and NT environments. Designed to be "always up, always available", the MC256 has capacity for 60GB up to 9TB, 2.5"/15GB drives, 32 fibre channel ports and 16GB mirrored cache. "Unlike many high-end alternatives, it supports mission-critical computing with no single point of failure and connects to a wide variety of operating systems and server platforms," Russell said.

Other products in the SureStore E family include SureStore E Switch F16, SureStore E Node Manager and a software portfolio which includes disaster recovery, e-business and security solutions.