HP releases storage array for mid-sized firms

Simplicity is the theme of the new product

As more medium-sized companies consolidate their storage, Hewlett-Packard has seized an opportunity with a disk array it says is easier to work with than large-enterprise gear, but delivers more capabilities than entry-level storage.

Many medium-sized organisations are starting to bring storage out of their servers and into SANs (storage area networks). But many don't have the expertise required to set up and run enterprise-class SANs, according to HP. Hence the HP StorageWorks 4400 Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA4400), a platform with eight drives and two controllers all in one shelf that is designed to be discovered, configured and set up in less than an hour.

The EVA4400 is aimed at customers with around 1,000 employees, says Kyle Fitze, director of marketing in the SAN division of HP's StorageWorks group.

Consolidating drives and controllers in one shelf cuts costs, Fitze says. The two controllers that manage the drives operate simultaneously and can keep the system running if one fails. The array can be configured with drives ranging from 146GB to 1TB. Fully expanded on multiple shelves, the system can support as much as 96TB of storage.

HP has also introduced a set of 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel gear that can be used with the EVA4400. It delivers double the speed of the 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel technology now commonly used in SANs.

Industrial park development and mangement company Pattillo Construction uses an HP MSA1000 storage array that's about 6 years old, says IT Director Buzz Kaas. The company has about 4TB of data, which is growing as records such as architectural drawings and leases become digital, Kaas says. He tested the EVA4400 and found he could install and set it up in about 10 minutes, a process that would have taken overnight with the older array. Pattillo has an IT staff of two and pays a consultant to manage the MSA1000. By contrast, the staff could handle daily management of the EVA4400 by itself, he says.

Like other storage vendors, HP has recently been trying to make high-end storage easier to use so it can attract smaller customers, says IDC analyst Natalya Yezhkova. Most mid-size companies don't have storage specialists, and if they buy advanced storage systems, they need to either get tools that simplify management or hire additional staff, she says.

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