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Hewlett-Packard is sprucing up its storage hardware and software portfolio to simplify IT consolidation efforts across customers’ online, backup and remote/branch office storage environments.

Set to be unveiled on Feb. 20 during its HP Asia-Pacific StorageWorks Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, HP will announce new plug-in and connectivity features to its EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) and XP disk array systems.

The company will also introduce a new HP StorageWorks MSL2024 Tape Library, and reveal upgrades of its HP StorageWorks EFS (Enterprise File Services) WAN Accelerator and HP StorageWorks 600 Virtual Library System, according to sources close to Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP.

In addition to the availability of a new Rapid Opportunity Analysis service to help solve heterogeneous storage consolidation woes, HP will announce it is extending backup OS and provisioning support of its HP Storage Essentials storage resource management and SAN (storage area network) software.

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The new and improved HP storage products represents a move by the systems vendor to simplify multivendor storage and network environments through streamlined information management—a direct result of consolidated server and storage infrastructures.

However, instituting a storage consolidation methodology can be especially tricky when dealing with a tiered storage architecture, notes Mark Deck, senior vice-president of Technology for Port Washington, NY-based National Medical Health Card Systems Inc.

Deck currently deploys an HP XP 1024 box featuring 22TB of storage, an EVA 8000 with 9TB and an HP MSA (Modular Smart Array) running 7TB within an environment of 180 Intel-based servers, the majority of which are Microsoft Windows Servers.

Deck’s organization is using HP Storage Essentials to forecast storage growth by analyzing specific usage points and capacities across its company to help control costs.

“As storage becomes a commodity business users and developers and application owners tend to look at storage, as ‘if we need more they’ll get it.’ But the cost of keeping that [information] in an enterprise class SAN is tremendous,” said Deck.

“Where I see consolidation happening is we’ve moved away from silos of storage. People aren’t reducing storage, what we’re trying to do in a tiered architecture is use it appropriately and looking at the value of storage.”

For example, if data must be stored online but seldom accessed, a question being asked by storage administrators is just how much cost is an organization willing to absorb for usage, access and performance of its stressed storage capacity, note industry analysts.

To help alleviate that problem through storage consolidation measures, HP has built concurrent iSCSI and Fiber Channel connectivity into its EVA and XP disk arrays, said sources close to HP.

In conjunction with new 4GB SAN support for EVA arrays, HP’s StorageWorks business unit has also doubled the existing cache size of its XP hardware for improved partitioning and will offer support for customers that want to attach their EVA arrays to both XP12000 and XP1000 XP arrays.

For backup consolidation, HP’s new MSL2024 tape library is geared toward SMBs (small and midsized businesses). Capable of storing up to 9.6TB in a 2U form factor, the product offers Web-based remote management, a bar code reader and removable magazines for bulk loading and offsite storage.

Larger sized enterprise backup consolidation will be addressed by HP boosting the maximum capacity of its 6000 Virtual Library System to 70TB through support of new 500GB drives.

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IT administrators desperate to corral remote branch office backup operations can look forward to new software capabilities and multiple fail-through NIC (Network Interface Card) in HP’s EFS WAN Accelerator.

Within HP’s Storage Essentials Suite, Backup Manager’s reporting functionality has been extended to HP-UX and Linux deployments, while the suite’s Provisioning Manager tool has new support for third-party disk arrays and switches from IBM, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Xiotech and QLogic.

Deck admits that 4GB support for his EVA and XP boxes is not an immediate need but will be very important on the horizon. He added that he would like to see HP emphasize a bit more backwards capability into its storage products to mesh with his year-old investments.

Still, he said HP is headed in the right direction with its storage strategy and consolidation is just one bump in the road it must smooth out.

“We’ve always been asked to do more with less and that includes ‘less’ people … the world is moving toward saving everything and HP is listening to what storage users are requiring,” Deck said.

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