Hewlett-Packard will introduce an update to its entry-level storage area
network products that the vendor hopes will spur customers to upgrade from
older storage technology. 

The new
MSA2000 line will replace HP’s
line and will include Fibre Channel or iSCSI disk arrays, said an HP
spokesperson. The line is targeted at SMBs (small and midsize businesses) migrating
to shared storage for the first time, said Charles Vallhonrat,
product manager with HP StorageWorks. Vallhonrat said the entry-level product
line could also be of interest to enterprise customers that need
technology at branch offices, in small application deployments or in testing
environments, he said.

"We didn’t make any design decisions that would limit the product’s use
by either SMB or the enterprise customers," he said, adding that the
line could be a valuable product line addition to HP partners selling to any
size customers.

For a list of the top five HP channel executives you should know, click here.

One New Jersey HP partner who wished to remain anonymous said the new line will
help him persuade "a lot of customers to upgrade," but added he
wished the vendor had brought the products to market sooner.

"It’s about time. We go up against other storage vendors selling
products like this all the time," he said. 

Vallhonrat said the
MSA2000 was designed
to integrate with virtualized server environments. HP’s goal, he said, is for
channel partners to sell the
MSA2000 line to
the same customers interested in blade servers.

MSA2000 includes the same
(storage management utility) software HP uses to manage its HP BladeSystem
products, making centralized server and storage management easier for partners
and customers. 

Vallhonrat added that the vendor is developing a blueprint-like set of
whitepapers, or "solution blocks," that show how to integrate the
with other HP server and storage products, including blades. The solution
blocks will "show partners how to create, install and integrate an
end-to-end solution," he said. 

"We will be rolling out programs to show partners how this product can
help customers increase storage capabilities and get better performance,"
he said, but he did not specify when HP will release them. Vallhonrat said HP will
also make a "regional upgrade offer" as an incentive to partners
selling the new line.  

With an installed base of more than 125,000 existing
products, Vallhonrat said, the previous-generation
technology was fertile ground for partners to offer customers technology upgrades
and data migration services.

MSA2000 products, he said, are a
"significant leap to new technology," and this gives partners great
opportunities to help customers migrate and secure their data from the older
storage products to the new line. "Technologywise, this is a significant
upgrade.  This will not be a ‘data in place,’ simple transition," he

Pricing for the
MSA2000 starts at $4,999;
products will be available starting in March.