HP Moves to Rein in Storage


HP is moving aggressively to tighten up its storage platforms, a sign that the company thinks small and mid-sized enterprises are poised to undertake significant infrastructure upgrades in the next few years.

In the past few weeks, HP has consolidated some of its key portfolios, brought in a newly virtualized storage bundle and added significant networking capacity to the mix. It's an effort to not only boost capacity and performance, but to reduce those all-important energy consumption figures as well.

The primary move in this strategy came at the end of last month when the company announced it is consolidating its All-in-One and ProLiant lines into a single platform. The idea is to unify file and application storage, with a healthy dose of deduplication thrown in, in such a way that it boosts capacity and file-serving performance by about a third each.

The platform will consist of the StorageWorks X1000 system featuring quad-core Xeons, SAS and SATA support and an external SAS expansion module that works with StorageWorks MSA enclosures. It can also be paired with the X1800b storage blade to enable shared storage with BladeSystem enclosures or to tap into Fibre Channel, SAS or iSCSI networks.

The other piece of the puzzle is the X3000 network storage system, which allows the X1000 to act as a unified storage pool for multi-protocol networks. The X3000 is the gateway that will bridge iSCSI and Fibre Channel or SAS arrays with Fibre Channel SANs, offering IP-based data services for clustering and high availability.

At the same time, the company is bundling virtualization into its popular ProLiant G6 servers as a way to get smaller organizations to see the benefits of virtual environments. The package combines VMware's VSphere software with the LeftHand Virtual SAN appliance, Insight control management software and ProCurve networking system. Its chief benefit is the ability to virtualize direct-attached storage within an existing SAN and then pool multiple SANs to increase capacity into the terabyte region. You also get advanced management features like thin provisioning, snapshotting and replication.

All this is happening at the same time that HP is turning outward to bolster its storage networking capabilities. The company recently certified Brocade's host bus adapter line as a means to shore up connectivity between the ProLiant servers and the MSA and EVA drive arrays. At the same time, HP will OEM Brocade's 8000 Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) switch that brings together 8 Gbps Fibre Channel with 10 GbE Converged Enhanced Ethernet.

On an even more advanced level, though, HP has turned to Emulex for the next-generation of storage connectivity, the converged network adapter (CNA). The company has announced it has certified the LightPulse CNA for the ProLiant DL100, DL300 and DL500 servers, as well as the StorageWorks MSA, EVA and XP arrays. The certification runs across the Windows, Hyper-V and Linux operating systems, and the CNAs have been shown to be compatible with Brocade's and Cisco's FCoE switches.

All of this activity points out that the means by which data center performance is measured is changing as the nature of data and data services change. As enterprises delve deeper into virtualization and cloud computing, processing performance and capacity of any single machine takes a back seat to agility and flexibility in the network.

Once you have the ability to pool resources and shift data loads from here to there, the network becomes the primary arbiter of success or failure.