HP Dangles Storage and Financing

By Clint Boulton | Posted September 20, 2006

Imagine you're the owner of a small or medium-sized business and you need to handle a lot of data created in storage area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS).

In the past, you'd have to get different devices to handle SAN and NAS. You'd also need someone who knows how to configure the different machines.

Not anymore.

HP introduced its StorageWorks All-in-One (AiO) storage systems family, a new line of data servers that combines iSCSI, SAN, NAS and data protection in one machine to manage Microsoft environments, such as Exchange and SQL Server.

Harry Baeverstad, director of NAS in HP's StorageWorks division, says that the AiO400 and AiO600 are great for larger-but-still-small companies that don't have big budgets but still find their data growth spiraling out of control as e-mail counts soar in Exchange systems.

The AiO systems can begin deploying storage on the network after a seven-step installation process that takes roughly 20 minutes, he added.

In another example of AiO use-of-use, customers with minimal IT experience can set up, configure, provision, protect and migrate shared storage for an Exchange mailstore in about 10 clicks, eliminating several more steps that are usually required for such tasks.

"The intellectual property we've been developing over the last three years is really allowing the IT administrator in the SMB to deploy storage in the context of the application," Baeverstad said.

This simplicity addresses a key pain point SMBs have; IDC said more than 60 percent of SMBs have shied away from traditional networked storage, because it's too costly and time-consuming to implement.

"It's not that they don't want to invest," said Ovum Summitt analyst Mary Johnston Turner, who hosted a customer panel at the event. "They want to spend their money wisely."

HP believes the first machines in the line will be game-changing alternatives to products from Network Appliance, EMC, Dell and IBM in a lucrative SMB space market IDC believes will top $5.7 billion by 2010. However, with the AiO line, HP is taking a gamble.

HP is already one of the top players in the SMB space for storage, selling its Modular Smart Array (MSA) storage line with great success. The price range of the new AiO machines could cannibalize HP's MSA line in some accounts, replacing them with products that are easier to install and less expensive.

Baeverstad said HP is confident this won't happen, noting that there are enough differences between the AiO and MSA lines that will appeal to different customers. For example, the MSA line boasts an active failover feature; the AiO does not.

To that end, the AiO400 slides into a rack, comes with four SATA drives and stores up to one terabyte of data for $5,000.

The higher-end AiO600 comes in a rack and in a tower configuration, has six SAS or SATA drives and stores 1.5TB or 3TB of SATA or 876 gigabytes of SAS for $6,700, $9,000 and $9,250, respectively.

HP has integrated its StorageWorks Data Protector Express software to the machines to back up and recover data from tape, virtual tape, optical or external disks. The AiO systems also run Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, which triggers data replication between systems. The machines are available now and will be sold primarily through HP's 145,000 channel resellers.

More Money, More Money
HP also recently announced a new financing initiative designed to offer SMBs more flexibility and to lower the barrier to buying technology. According to Eileen O'Brien, vice president of HP's worldwide small and medium business group, the company's lowered the minimum loan transaction size to $350.

"We want to eliminate the roadblocks that many small businesses face – even the smallest of the small. We're offering a variety of affordable options to help them get the technology they need and the time they need to pay for it," she said.

HP offers the following leasing and financing options:

  • A 4.9 percent financing rate on all HP LaserJet, multifunction, inkjet and large-format printers; plus a variety of HP business PCs, workstations and servers. This rate is in effect through Oct. 31.
  • Promotional rates as low as 4.4 percent on bundled HP BladeSystem and StorageWorks products; available in 24-, 36-, 48- or 60-month terms.
  • A zero-percent lease rate and 24-, 36-, 48- or 60-month terms on all HP LaserJet, multifunction and large-format printers and HP All-in-One devices.

O'Brien said that in addition to offering compelling rates and decreasing the transaction size, they've also simplified the application process. "The new one-page form is much easier to understand and fill out," she said, "and small business owners typically receive approval in a matter of minutes."

HP says it has created a Rapid Response Center that increases the number of SMB and HP channel partner resources threefold. "It's all about making technology more affordable and easier for small businesses to access," said O'Brien. You can find more information at the HP Financial Services site.

Lauren Simonds provided additional reporting for this story.

Adapted from internetnews.com.

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