Hewlett-Packard has announced it has signed a deal to purchase database archiving company, OuterBay Technologies.

HP said that OuterBay currently has 450 customers using its LiveArchive software. That software locates inactive data stored in Oracle, PeopleSoft and other databases and transfers it to an accessible archive database, allowing the primary database to run more efficiently.

Steve Duplessie, founder of Enterprise Strategy Group, said the OuterBay acquisition could be a big blow to HP rival EMC, which has a long-standing partnership with Cupertino..

Duplessie pointed to HP's acquisition of storage resource management vendor AppIQ last year, which it pulled off even as EMC was also courting AppIQ. In 2003, EMC took its partnership with OuterBay beyond a reseller agreement and integrated OuterBay's software into its storage systems. "EMC is OuterBay's No. 1 partner," Duplessie said.

EMC's relationship with OuterBay is not expected to change, according to an EMC spokesman.

The spokesman said HP will OEM the OuterBay products to EMC, delivering on road map commitments and product enhancements.

"EMC will continue delivering the same value to our customers with the EMC branded product set as we did before this announcement," he said.

Duplessie said database archiving is the fastest growing segment of the market, outpacing similar products used to archive both e-mail and documents.

In a survey completed last week by Enterprise Strategy Group, 48 percent of respondents said they plan to purchase and implement database archiving technology within the next two years. Another 35 percent expect to deploy it sometime after two years, Duplessie said. "All of a sudden, HP looks like geniuses," he said.

Mike Feinberg, chief technology officer for HP's StorageWorks division, said that OuterBay's archiving software will be an integral part HP's information life-cycle management strategy and that the LiveArchive software is already integrated with HP's StorageWorks Management software.

Feinberg said that HP is in the process of integrating OuterBay's technology with HP's StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System - an application that performs indexing of structured and unstructured data and then performs searches on that data. "Sixty percent of servers sold by HP are running Oracle today," Feinberg said. "We're talking about the management of structured and unstructured data now."

HP would not disclose the financial terms of the deal.