HP brings thin provisioning to new midrange arrays

It's also announcing its first tape storage device in a blade form factor

Hewlett-Packard Co. is developing new storage hardware that will make it easier for administrators to assign the right amount of storage to different departments in an organization, the company said.

HP yesterday announced plans for new models in its midrange EVA series of disk storage arrays at its HP Technology Forum in Las Vegas. The EVA 4100, 6100 and 8100, due later this year, feature what HP calls Dynamic Capacity Management (DCM).

Typically, when a company buys new storage capacity, it apportions it to different programs or different business functions in the organization. That can lead to the false impression that the company has used up all its storage capacity. DCM allows the storage manager to assign capacity to various departments or functions as needed and allows the system to reduce capacity assigned to departments if they're not using it up at the rate they thought they would, HP said.

This saves companies the cost of buying more storage capacity they may not need, according to Mark Gonzalez, vice president of enterprise server and storage sales at HP.

"Perhaps you don't have to buy as much storage as you had to before, and because of that, you use less power, use less cooling and can delay your purchases," Gonzalez said. "What's the most expensive storage that you'll buy? The storage that you have to buy today."

Gonzalez said the EVAs may carry a list price in the $35,000 to $40,000 range.

HP offers DCM -- what it also calls thin provisioning -- in the high-end XP line of disk storage arrays it introduced in May. The availability of it on the EVA line will coincide with the launch of Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows Server 2008 operating system, which is due out later this year.

Besides assigning storage capacity that's more in line with actual use, the EVAs will utilize a Windows feature that can reduce the size of storage capacity already assigned and reassign it for another purpose, HP said.

But storage provisioning is as much a problem of office politics as it is technology, said Andrew Reichman, a storage industry analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

Software application administrators ask for as much storage as they can get because it's difficult to add more space later. But storage administrators want to preserve storage capacity so they don't have to buy more storage capacity unnecessarily. In the back and forth of office politics, Reichman said, the software administrators tend to win these battles.

But with DCM, which could more accurately be called "adaptive provisioning," Reichman said, assigning and adjusting capacity is easier and better ensures that applications will get the storage they need but not more than they need.

"Adaptive provisioning is good for environments where you have good communications -- where the server admins and the applications admins say, 'I agree to take less and will trust you to grow it for me as time goes so we use less resources,' " Reichman said. "In my experience, those environments are few and far between."

HP also announced that it's introducing a new tape drive for data storage and its first tape storage device in a blade form factor.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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