Continued from part 1.

Tape tapering down, XP under-performs

HP has noted weakness in its high-end XP array sales for the past two quarters as well as unexpectedly fast declines in tape revenues. These two factors have made StorageWorks under-perform compared to the rest of HP. Manners said: "At the top end we're losing share. It's a declining market. HP has a lot of focus in the mid-range and modular area where EVA is doing well."

He expects a couple of EVA enhancement announcements within the next twelve months.

The company is adamant that there is nothing wrong with the XP products it OEMs from Hitachi Data Systems; "The HDS product out-performs DMX and Shark." It's just not having its virtues presented to enough potential customers. That is getting fixed and HP seems confident it can get the XP attach rate to its own servers up.

The tape decline can't be fixed like that. Manners said that DAT is declining and the company is pulling out of DLT. LTO is growing though. (The picture I'm seeing here is that LTO is growing its share of a generally declining tape market.) Half-height LTO drives provide a ceiling above which DAT cannot rise. With the general depression in tape revenues an implication, not one made by Manners though, is that the next-generation DAT 160's arrival could be delayed and delayed and delayed. In fact, it might not happen. (Quantum boss Rick Belluzzo has already signaled the probable end-of-life for the DLT format.)

(Information from a source in the media manufacturing area outside HP puts the closing down of future DLT versions and of DAT 160 more strongly, as in the decisions have probably already been taken.)

Manners said: "Top line; volume tape is disappointing. But it is transitioning." The problem-stroke-opportunity is disk-to-disk (D2D) backup and virtual tape libraries. For HP tape is declining faster than D2D is picking up; Manners again: "D2D is emerging; prevalent is too strong a word." HP has recently introduced a low-end D2D product to complement its SME All-in-One storage product. Sales are going well, with Manners saying: "We've sold forty units so far this quarter in the UK with a target of thirty." Perversely All-in-One is doing well across EMEA but not quite as well in the UK.

Manners said of it: "There is a roadmap and new products are coming with increased capacity and more speed."

Not a FAN fan

Manners reckons that PolyServe: "is a great acquisition," and will help HP's network-attached storage sales, adding: "It can virtualise file servers and have a SAN back end." But as for the Brocade led file area network (FAN) concept he is not so positive: "It's too new. I can see the benefit to Brocade. I don't know if it benefits the entire market."

Definitely a Storage Essentials fan

Manners says that Storage Essentials is going great guns: "It's done well in EMEA in the last twelve months, There are 150 customers now and the leading country in terms of sales is the UK." HP is going to introduce a new version of it called SESE for Storage Essentials Standard Edition. It's for small enterprises but not really the SME market.

Currently Storage Essentials is OEM'd by Hitachi Data Systems, Sun, Silicon Graphics and Engenio (now LSI Logic). It is the only storage management product that is 100 percent SNIA-compliant, IBM's product only being 75 percent compliant.

Manners said that it can be used to identify 'storage abusers', people or departments in enterprises that are using too much storage or storing files of the wrong type. Knowing what's happening through using Storage Essentials means you can then decide what to do about it.

Radical disk storage cost-cutting

Manners talked about content providers, such as Snapfish and Google and MySpace. These new companies need to store huge amounts of data from which they get no direct profit at all. Instead their business is founded on serving ads alongside requests by users to store or access content.

These companies don't need bullet-proof storage because users retain the original photos or video clips on their own systems, according to Manners. They need drive arrays with very high capacity and very low cost. Arrays such as the XP and EVA ones have been built to be highly reliable. That quality is not needed. It makes them too expensive.

Manners said: "There is no one in the market at the price point needed. The customers need disk technology for performance but the price point needs to be a fifth of what people pay today for an EVA" in terms of cost per GB stored." It will be a challenge for all suppliers. HP is developing product for this market."

Such hardware products are twelve months away. (Maybe the federated array of bricks idea relates to this.)

HP is re-organising itself both to respond to the green tide washing up on us and to fix the outstanding sales problems in storage at the high-end and in the tape area of the data protection space. It wants to improve its SME storage sales and sell more clustered NAS filers, where the PolyServe acquisition will help. CEO Mark Hurd hasn't failed yet at anything he's set out to do in HP and the likelihood is, that with his own man - or woman - running StorageWorks, the storage blot on HP's results will be mopped up and the new leaner and greener HP, Hurd's butterfly crafted from Forina's chrysalis, will emerge.