HP announces converged storage strategy, products

Kicks off its converged product lineup with a preconfigured data center and virtual server systems

Hewlett-Packard today announced a series of upgrades to its storage products, including the addition of data snapshots and a portfolio of pre-configured storage systems.

Converged Systems is a new portfolio of systems with converged hardware, software, tailored consulting and HP Solution Support services that enables customers to be up and running with new applications in hours instead of months. HP made the announcements at its annual user conference in Las Vegas.

Similar to EMC and Cisco's vBlock offering, the converged storage portfolio of products integrates HP Store360 scale-out software with HP BladeSystem and HP ProLiant server hardware. HP's new Storage Consulting services are added to the mix.

The Converged portfolio comes in three "Virtual System" models ranging from small to large: VS1, VS2 and VS3.

"It's a single SKU and you get the entire system. It's designed for server virtualization," said Tom Joyce, vice president of marketing in HP's StorageWorks Division.

The VS1 is built on HP ProLiant servers, which host the virtual machines, a HP LeftHand P4500 storage area network (SAN) and HP Insight Control management software. The VS1 can manage up to 200 virtual machines.

The VS2 is built on HP's BladeSystem servers, and a separate BladeSystem with a LeftHand SAN, all managed under HP's Virtual Connect FlexFabric networking module and HP Insight Control.

The VS3 uses the BladeSystem and HP's recently acquired 3Par SAN technology with the same management software as the previous offerings. A single configuration of VS3 can manage as many as 6,000 virtual machines.

"We're supporting not just VMware, but Microsoft HyperV and Citrix. That's a clear advantage over the vBlock approach. Second, it's one support call and you're getting it all from one vendor," Joyce said.

Joyce said all three Virtual Server configurations can be upgraded to HP's CloudSystem, which was shipped earlier this year and provides a cloud service management layer on top of the VS systems.

HP also announced the Converged Data Center, a new class of Performance Optimized Data Centers (PODs) that can be deployed in about 12 weeks and at a quarter of the cost of traditional brick-and-mortar data centers, Joyce said.

HP's POD 240a, also referred to as the "HP EcoPOD," is a compact, modular, pre-configured data center that Joyce said uses about 95% less energy than traditional data centers.

New/upgraded storage arrays

HP also announced a new storage system and upgrades to its current lineup.

Also part of HP's Converged Infrastructure portfolio, is the upgraded, midrange HP P6000 Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA). The P6000 represents HP's fifth-generation EVA.

"This is a complete update from top to bottom," Joyce said.

The P6000 storage array offers thin provisioning, or the ability to increase storage volumes on the fly, instead of overprovisioning capacity to avoid application service interruptions.

The P6000 also offers the ability to use solid state drives and serial SCSI (SAS) hard drives. The new drive bays for the P6000 will be available this September, Joyce said.

In conjunction with the new drive offerings, the P6000 array also offers logical unit number (LUN)-level tiering, or the ability to seamlessly, but manually, move data from various drive types based on performance requirements.

In addition, for the first time in HP's EVA product history, the P6000 offers native Internet SCSI (iSCSI) capability. Previously, the boxes required a front-end iSCSI gateway controller.

Joyce said among the target customers for EVA are those "who've been loyal and have been waiting for this upgrade for a while. An existing customer with a service contract can get the new software capabilities through a firmware upgrade for free."

The X5000 G2 Network Storage System is a network-attached storage (NAS) gateway that follows HP's release of the E5000 earlier this year, which was built on two Windows XP server blades. The new X5000 uses the same hardware, but runs Windows Storage Server, creating a Windows NAS server. Because there are two boxes, the NAS server can boast active-active failover, meaning if one server goes down, the other is automatically activated for use so there is no disruption in service.

"This 5000 series box will also be used for other applications in the future. Later on this year, we'll announce another one," Joyce said. "It's a great example of what we've been doing, creating building blocks in hardware and software. That's where converged infrastructure is at the end of the day: the ability to take a building block approach and deliver solutions very quickly."

HP also announced the X9000 Ibrix Network Storage System, a scale-out NAS system that uses the software from HP's 2009 acquisition of Ibrix. The X9000 is HP's first NAS array with data snapshot capability, allowing for faster backups of data using only instances of data sets that have been changed.

The X9000 also incorporates policy management capabilities to automate the movement of data for content archiving for file applications such as email, SharePoint files, multimedia and data from medical picture archive communications systems (PACS). Along with snapshots, the box offers write-one, read-many (WORM) capability for regulatory and legal discovery purposes, meaning once data is saved, it cannot be changed. The technology is similar to that of EMC's Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) array, but it uses open source software to avoid vendor lock-in.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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