HP has announced EVA mid-range array enhancements, a new SAN switch for its blade systems, a NAS gateway and encryption for its backup software. These are worthy additions to its range but do not respond to widening gaps in its storage product strategy.

It has bundled PolyServe's clustered file system with EVA arrays to deliver EVA File Services. Customers can buy a 2-node PolyServe NAS cluster with EVA4000, 6000 or an 8000 array. Prices start from $90,000 and customers get a virtualised file-serving capability which has tremendous scalability. The PolyServe product was available from HP before this announcement but not integrated with EVA drive arrays. It doesn't virtualise other NAS boxes. In the context of the following announcement it also looks like a point-product, and not part of a unified strategy.

HP delivered a new NAS gateway, the ProLiant DL585 G2 storage server, based on Windows Unified Data Storage Server 2003. This is an updated model with the previous 32-bit CPU upgraded to 64-bit Opterons, making it go a lot faster.

It sits in front of SAN block storage and delivers files to users. Its NAS capability is not included in the ambit of EVA File Services though. This is another NAS island in HP's file serving line-up.

A 4Gbit/s Cisco MDS 9124e Fabric Switch is announced, ready for use with the HP c-class BladeSystem. It's the first such embedded Cisco switch for HP' s blade system. This can work with Cisco's VSAN logical SAN partitioning The previous QLogic blades could not. Its management is nicely integrated into HP's management products; ProLiant Essentials, Server Essentials and Storage Essentials can all deal with it. Prices start from about $6,000 for a 12-port model.

Lastly HP has added 256-bit AES encryption to its Data Protector Software v6.0. This is carried out by the host server and naturally uses CPU cycles for the encryption work.

Duncan Campbell, vice president of marketing at StorageWorks was somewhat vague in his comment about these four announcements: "We’re helping customers build easy-to-manage, next-generation, data centers with our broad portfolio of Adaptive Infrastructure hardware, software and services.”

Widening gaps

HP has no clustered NAS product with global namespace and file virtualisation capability that can consolidate file storage across a datacentre and departments. EMC has Rainfinity. Brocade has NuView, as does NetApp through an OEM agreement. NetApp also has ONTAP GX. HP's high-end drive array supplier, HDS, has just invested in BlueArc and announced a deeper relationship.

We didn't hear anything in this announcement about data de-duplication. HP has a relationship with Sepaton for virtual tape products and Sepaton has de-duplication capability.

We didn't hear anything about the LTO4 format with its encryption capability at the drive level. Instead we got a rather tired-looking backup software encryption package. It's late and it's me-too, welcome enough for that to its users but hardly cutting-edge stuff.

We didn't hear anything about iSCSI SANs either.

It's some considerable time since HP surprised us and took the lead with storage technology. Its exciting storage technologies, like its Federated Array of Bricks are in research labs and not pre-production. RISS is looking tired. The storage grid work is ... well, ho-hum.

On the security front NetApp has Decru and EMC has RSA. HP's cupboard is looking a trifle bare in this area also.

StorageWorks is looking jaded. The last entry in its marketing manager's blog was November 29th. Probably Duncan Campbell has nothing to say. Contrast that with the activity from EMC, NetApp, HDS and others. We are in the Schultz interregnum. Nothing will get radically altered until there is a new StorageWorks boss.