HP has renamed and redeveloped its Reference Information Storage System (RISS) as the HP Integrated Archive Platform. RISS had problems with software quality, pricing and market positioning.

In effect HP has admitted that RISS was an over-priced and poor quality product aimed at the wrong market. IAP is effectively RISS v2.0.

It has been reported that Jonathan Martin, HP's chief marketing officer, admitted RISS had quality problems: "Two years or eighteen months ago, maybe even only a year ago, there were challenges with the quality of the system. But we've got a new focus at HP and we've dealt with those problems."

RISS was launched in May, 2004, as an e-mail archiving system. Since then HP has modified it several times in attempts to increase its appeal.

- In March, 2005, we reported it had increased cell size from 450GB to 850GB and cut the base system price in half.
- In April, 2006, it extended RISS' functionality to encompass general fixed data storage.
- In June, 2006, HP talked of increasing its capacity to 1.4TB. Now IAP's total base system rack capacity is 4.2TB with a possible future extension to 7.5TB.

Over this time other suppliers such as Hitachi Data Systems and Nexsan have entered the fixed content storage market, which was pioneered by, and is still dominated by, EMC's Centera product.

RISS pricing has also been substantially revised with the entry pricing dropping from $420,00 to just $71,000 (about £36,000 at ordinary conversion rates) for a system with a 1.4TB capacity. Also if customers bought a subsequent RISS product they had to pay the full license price again, an discouraging pricing stance for a system that was supposed to scale inter-operate in a grid infrastructure. Additional 1.4TB nodes can be added at $8,000 apiece, representing a drastic price cut.

HP attributed the price changes to having a lower-capacity starter system and drops in component pricing. The company thinks this is as little as a fifth of the price of other vendor's offerings in the market.

It has added extra indexing functionality, like that from NetApp partner Kazeron, to IAP. It indexes e-mails, file data, print streams and scans, and third-party content management product data, such as that from Vignette. Incoming data is indexed as it comes into IAP.

HP has also extended the RISS search function which was limited to looking inside just one node. IAP can search across multiple IAP nodes.

HP believes that IAP's turnkey, integrated nature will make it successful this time around, but it has pushed the integrated idea before, saying RISS includes much more than a basic Centera system, and it didn't help then.

Martin said: "Organisations have been implementing archiving systems as a response to an event like audit or litigation, and typically they've gone out and bought say Enterprise Vault from Symantec, CAS from EMC, servers from Dell, and services from Deloitte, and then cobbled them all together."

This glosses over the fact that EMC has a group of Centera-skilled system resellers who provide integrated Centera products to customers. Also Centera is used for much more than litigation and compliance-checking functions.

It seems that HP is attempting to find a promising niche in the general fixed content storage market and has alighted on the e-discovery, litigation and compliance area as the place to target for the IAP product.