Hewlett Packard will start a wholesale refresh of its StorageWorks product line next week. It will roll out:

  • Three new models of its mid-range Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) - the EVA40000, 6000 and 8000 external disk storage systems replacing the existing EVA3000 and 5000
  • A series of appliances that speed data access and file sharing between remote offices and the data centre
  • A clustered gateway product for consolidating file services in remote offices back into the data centre
  • A virtual tape library for open systems - Windows, Unix and Linux - it uses disk to emulate tape backup
  • A modular tape library for mid-range enterprises.

The EVA4000 has a maximum capacity of 16.8TB, the EVA6000 scales to 33.6TB, and the EVA8000 to 72TB using 240 drives, twice the capacity of the old EVA5000. The EVA8000 supports connections to as many as 256 servers and is more than twice as fast as the EVA6000.

All three new arrays can intermix fast Fibre Channel and less-expensive, lower-cost FATA drives. However they don’t yet uses the fastest 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel links, putting them behind SGI and StorageTek arrays.

All the new arrays now support industry standard multi-path I/O for Windows, Solaris, AIX, NetWare and Linux, rather than HP's proprietary SecurePath technology. Multi-path I/O is the ability to use more than one physical path to access the storage device, providing fault tolerance and load-balancing of storage traffic.

The pricing for the new EVAs starts at $124,000 for 3.5TB. A 14TB EVA 8000 starts at $409,000.

WAFS angle
HP's new product barrage will also focus on hot topics such as clustered file systems, wide-area file services (WAFS) for branch-office consolidation and the acceleration of chatty file services protocols across the WAN. WAFS systems converge remote-office and data centre storage and reduce the latency of file sharing imposed by WAN connections. By compressing data and using other techniques, WAFS makes response times LAN-like.

To provide WAFS to branch offices, many of which are without IT expertise, HP is using WAN Accelerator technology from Riverbed. The HP EFS WAN Accelerators join a market being targeted by Cisco (with its acquisition of Actona) and Brocade (in a partnership with Tacit Networks).

The EFS WAN Accelerators are HP ProLiant server-based and could reduce WAN traffic by 60 percent to 95 percent, according to an HP document.

Libraries, gateways and clusters
In an agreement with file-sharing cluster vendor PolyServe, HP is also launching the StorageWorks EFS Clustered Gateway. It can have up to 16 symmetrical nodes - ProLiant servers running SuSE Linux - in a single cluster and supports a 16TB common Network File System setup.

HP will also introduce an Enterprise Modular Library (EML), available in three models using LTO-3 drives: 41TB, 98TB and 177TB capacity respectively. No pricing is available.

HP come back
Recently HP has lost ground in the storage market. Its StorageWorks disk storage business accounted for almost $7.6 billion in revenue in 2004, according to IDC, but this was 6.3 percent less than in 2003. IDC says EMC took the number one spot away from HP in 2004 for external disk storage systems, with a 21.1 percent revenue share, followed by HP with 18.7 percent.

"HP is making a comeback in storage," says Arun Taneja, founder and senior analyst for Taneja Group. "These announcements bring HP a heck of a lot closer to competing with EMC and Network Appliance."

The mid-range array and tape library refresh will be welcome to customers. The virtual tape library also. The company's european VP, Neal Clapper, promises more: "This is the beginning of a whole series of announcements through to the next quarter. It is the biggest launch in the history of StorageWorks division," she said, and more are to come.