February 5, 2004 3:26 PM PST

Storage giants tout new wares

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Data storage rivals Hewlett-Packard and EMC are announcing new offerings, including pay-per-use pricing from HP and upgraded hardware from EMC.

EMC plans next week to announce products such as faster midrange and high-end disk arrays, upgraded data copying for midrange arrays, and new devices that link two types of storage technologies, according to a source familiar with the company's plans.

EMC also will announce upgrades to its Centera line of storage equipment designed to help meet compliance requirements, additional management software for its midrange Clariion arrays, and Clariion support for an emerging industry standard, the source said. The new standard, the Storage Management Interface Specification (SMI-S), aims to make it easier for software to manage equipment from multiple manufacturers.

For its part, HP on Thursday announced "utility pricing" for its midrange Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family and a new line of tape libraries, which are robotic devices that contain multiple tape drives and cartridges. HP said the EVA family will offer metering technology that tracks capacity usage and lets customers pay only for the capacity they use. A pay-per-use option has been available on HP's high-end storage arrays for large organizations.

HP's ESL E-Series tape libraries will be available with Ultrium 460 and SDLT 320 drives and feature improved storage density, the company said.

HP and EMC are among the top sellers of disk-based storage. Their announcements come at a time in the storage industry when hardware's importance has been waning and software's significance has been waxing. Reasons for the shift include companies' desire to maximize their use of existing storage equipment and to reduce personnel costs.

EMC has had a vigorous software strategy in recent months. It acquired back-up and recovery software maker Legato Systems, content-management firm Documentum, and VMware, which manufactures software to make server computers more flexible.

One promising hardware product is so-called network-attached storage (NAS) gateways. These devices link NAS technology, which allows for easy file sharing, and storage-area network (SAN) technology, which tends to allow for greater capacity. Worldwide revenue for NAS gateway products jumped 27 percent last year to $84 million, according to market research firm Gartner. Gartner expects NAS gateway revenue to hit $215 million in 2007.

EMC plans to announce a new family of NAS gateway products next week.

EMC also plans to unveil higher-performing Clariion machines without higher prices, as well as new high-end Symmetrix storage arrays that have faster processors.

HP, which has touted its own support for the SMI-S standard, questioned EMC's ability to put out a product that abides by it. "We're skeptical of anyone claiming SMI-S compliance, given the fact that the testing criteria for the standard has yet to be ratified by SNIA (the Storage Networking Industry Association)," an HP representative said. "It's like putting the cart before the horse."

SNIA released the specification for the SMI-S last July. A testing program to make sure products conform with the standard is likely to be put in place in the next few months, according to SNIA.

An EMC representative declined to comment for this story.

But an official with SNIA had a less pessimistic view of EMC's new Clariions with SMI-S support. "We're very excited to see companies incorporate the specification into their products," said Phil Kemp, marketing chair of SNIA's Storage Management Forum.

 

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