Storage Battle Renewed in SMB Space

HP Monday refreshed its storage area networks (SAN) portfolio for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) in an effort to further tap into a market that analysts say will be very lucrative over the next few years.

The upgrade is part of a company-wide $750 million Smart Office strategy to lure SMBs to its camp over rivals such as IBM and Sun Microsystems .

Neal Clapper, vice president of the Online Storage Division at HP, says the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor has enhanced its StorageWorks Modular Smart Array (MSA) family to support Serial ATA (SATA) drives, which offer faster interconnects, consume less power, and are less expensive than traditional parallel technologies.

Clapper told that HP has also crafted a new line of entry-level Fibre Channel SAN switches to connect devices and a tape autoloader for basic data backup and recovery. The products were announced the same day Dell launched its latest NAS storage server for SMBs.

HP is picking an opportune time to unveil new storage products tailored for an SMB market that experts say is ripe for the trade of low-cost products.

According to IDC, which tallied HP’s fourth quarter 2003 software sales at $141 million, HP’s revenue percentage grew the most from Q4 2002 to Q4 2003, at 28 percent.

In the market for external SAN hardware, HP, which competes in this space with the likes of IBM and EMC , holds a 30.9 percent revenue share.

Clapper says that offering SATA support, which many storage vendors have begun to do, will attract customers looking for more affordable ways to manage their data in SCSI and SATA environments. The SATA support for HP’s drives includes management tools for servers and storage that allows IT managers to migrate traditional direct-attached storage (DAS) to modern SANs. SATA will also make it possible for customers to use the same disk drives in both environments to cut costs.

Products in the MSA family will support SATA or traditional SCSI disk enclosures and will offer scalability up to 24 terabytes. They will also feature native Fibre Channel connectivity to help customers plug directly into SANs. The new MSA offerings are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2004.

Based on Brocade Communications Systems technology, the new StorageWorks B-series switches will be available in 8- and 16-port models, run at 2 gigabits per second, and feature auto-sensing. The new 8-port switch includes a single fixed power supply and has fixed fans for cooling, while the 16-port is a dual switch with fixed power and fans. Both models offer backwards compatibility with legacy devices.

Pricing for the StorageWorks B-series SAN switches begins at $5000, with expected availability in April.

Lastly, Clapper reports the StorageWorks DAT 72×6 tape autoloader is a solid storage drive for SMBs with limited IT support and budgets. A single tape drive inside an enclosure that holds up to six data cartridges, the DAT 72×6 cuts costs by automating data backup without the need for an IT worker to fiddle with knobs.

The backup administrator loads the magazine with a week’s worth of data cartridges, and the autoloader automates data backup for a week. With storage capacity up to 432 gigabytes (GB), the DAT 72×6 comes with HP One-Button Disaster Recovery. The DAT 72×6 tape autoloader will cost $2,799 for the internal model ($2,999 for the external model) and is expected to be available by month’s end.

Story adapted from

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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