HP has stolen a march on the entire storage market, the company claims, by copyright protecting the development work it has carried out on its next-generation products.

The company's 250GB Fibre Attached Technology Adapted (FATA) drives - announced earlier this week - enable both critical and non-critical data (such as transactions and archived email, respectively) to be stored in the same array whereas previously two separate arrays were needed, increasing purchase and admin costs.

The FATA drives were developed with both Seagate and Hitachi and all work between the three is under copyright, HP UK's storage business unit manager Ross Logan told us. That means that HP has an effective stranglehold over the sale of the new drives. With other manufacturers such as Western Digital and Maxtor still far off producing their own FATA drives, the big storage vendors, including EMC, IBM and StorageTek are left languishing behind.

Logan reckons by at least a year. "We'll be 12 to18 months ahead of our main competitors in launching FATA drives," he told us. IBM and EMC are thought to be working on mixing and matching Fibre Channel disks and FATA-type disks in their Shark and Symmetrix arrays, which would simplify management and lower ownership costs and regain ground covered by HP.

Hitachi has however refused to confirm what Logan told us. "Hitachi does have a relationship with HP, but we can provide no details of the nature of this relationship, or the connection in regard to any specific product," a company spokesman told us.

An EMC customer, the Ohio Savings Bank, has a work-around of a Celerra NAS gateway connected to a CLARiiON CX600 systems with both Fibre Channel and ATA disk drives for centralized file serving and cost-effective storage of imaged documents.

Seagate does not yet offer a 250GB drive. But it will. Ian O'Leary, the company's European corporate communications manager told us: "This is another example of Seagate working strategically with its key OEM partners to provide them with key enabling technologies for their unique solutions. A disc drive similar to that which was described in the HP press release will be announced by Seagate in the coming weeks."

Hitachi's Deskstar 7K250 Capacity rotates at 7200rpm, has a 250GB capacity and either serial or parallel ATA interfaces. This could have been the development base for Hitachi GST's FATA development work. A Hitachi GST spokesperson confirmed that HGST "is working with HP on the FATA product".

Meanwhile, HP is planning to make the most out of its headstart by releasing a range of FATA products. "Down the line you will see from HP a number of other announcements of smaller capacities than 250GB and some higher," Logan said.