HP Gets 'Smart' About Storage for SMBs

By Patricia Fusco | Posted November 25, 2003

The idea of shared storage is not new, although it may be new to some small- and mid-sized businesses. As a business grows, so grows its data, which brings about the need for additional storage. Servers are added to the network to handle more data; backups are added to protect the data and pretty soon the network gets bogged down just transferring data across the network for storage. There's got to be a better way — an easier and less expensive way for growing businesses to get a handle of their data storage.

HP thinks it has the answer. This week the company introduced new storage products, along with a series of packaged storage solutions, designed and priced to meet the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses.

HP's new storage systems are part of its "Smart Office" initiative for SMBs, first introduced in Sept. 2003. Gina Cassinelli, HP director of marketing for SMBs, said in order release the new storage systems under its Smart Office umbrella, the devices had to meet three requirements.

"The new storage solutions have to be easy to implement and manage, no new expertise required" Cassinellia said. "They also have to provide rock-solid compatibility with existing systems and they have to be priced-right for small businesses. We have to make the technology easy for small business to own."

Rich Bruklis, HP modular smart array group product manager, said some of the systems are less than half the price of similar solutions from EMC and Dell, and better then one-third less than IBM systems.

"Based on current pricing available online, HP's prices are 25 to 53 percent below EMC and Dell, and 35 percent below IBM," Bruklis said.

Storage that Works
HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Array (MSA) family includes two direct-attached storage (DAS) offerings and an entry-level storage area network (SAN) model. Each solution is designed to maximize transfer rates and reduce management costs. The drives in all three models are transferable, and each device immediately recognizes data from other devices. Consequently, the three devices act as steppingstones, allowing a growing business to take a familiar path from one product, to the next. The MSA family of HP storage products includes:

  • MSA30: A direct-attach storage enclosure ideal for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, or workgroup and departmental users who need flexible, scalable external storage.

  • MSA500: A direct-attach storage system designed for storage consolidation with solid data protection and high-availability, ideal for remote sites and distributed clustered environments.

  • MSA1000: An entry-level SAN array that simplifies the transition for direct attached storage to a storage area network.

The MSA30, MSA500, and MSA1000 are available immediately, with estimated list prices starting at $3,200, $5,700, and $9,995, respectively, and can run on Microsoft Windows, Linux or Novell operating systems.

For small businesses seeking simplicity, HP also introduced affordable packaged solutions with one SKU — one price and one shipping container that equates to faster and easier deployment. The MSA family of HP storage solutions includes:

  • ProLiant DL380 Packaged Cluster with MSA500: Features two HP ProLiant DL380 servers, an MSA500 enclosure, two host bus adapters and required cables offering a simple storage solution for mid-sized businesses or remote and branch offices with limited on-site IT support.

  • ProLiant DL380 Packaged Cluster with MSA1000: Features two HP ProLiant DL380 servers, an MSA1000 enclosure, two host bus adapters, one eight port Fibre Channel switch and required cables. This system provides storage solutions for networks with multiple clusters and multi-node clusters capable of supporting up to 20 servers.

The HP ProLiant DL380 Packaged Cluster with MSA500 carries an estimated list price of $9,999 and the HP ProLiant DL380 Packaged Cluster with MSA1000 carries an estimated list price of $19,999.

In addition to the server bundles, HP is also offering MSA500 and MSA1000 starter kits. Each kit provides all the necessary hardware and software required to consolidate data storage in direct-attach SCSI or entry-level SAN environments. The MSA500 and MSA1000 Starter Kits have estimated list prices of $5,499 and $14,900, respectively.

Common Elements
HP StorageWorks MSA products are optimized for HP ProLiant servers, enabling businesses to realize a faster return on their investments. The MSA family and ProLiant servers share common management tools, drive compatibility and data commonality. This helps to further reduce operating costs, since compatibility and optimization are built into HP's Smart Array technology and Smart Office systems.

While HP's integrated approach to data storage systems and aggressive pricing will likely reduce operating costs, the technology is equally capable of boosting HP's sales to the mid-market.

"This is a new market opportunity for us," Cassinelli said. "The market for simplified storage packages is huge. Proliant servers are prevalent in the mid-market; at least that's what we've been told for the past three years. With this system you can remove a hard drive from one server, put it in a shared storage system, and it's going to work."

HP's exclusive DAS to SAN (DtS) technology enables data and disk drives to easily migrate from ProLiant servers to, and across, the MSA family of storage products. The integrated approach for the MSA configurations, bundled with ProLiant servers, also helps HP's reseller partners eliminate guesswork when setting up new storage systems. Now they can order complete packages designed to meet SMB customer requirements out of the gate. Delivered complete in one box, the offerings can help shorten sales cycles for HP's reseller partners and reduce time to deployment for small businesses.

With estimated prices starting at under $10K, the HP StorageWorks MSA and HP ProLiant server packaged solutions tackle one of the biggest barriers preventing emerging businesses from adopting external shared storage — the cost.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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