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HP Discover 2011 – Day 4 – The Road to Convergence

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Day 4 of any conference is pretty much one of reflection and consolidation; 4 days of early starts and late nights (especially when tied with serious jet lag) start to take their toll.  However all the hard work is worth it when you have one of those “light bulb” moments and the signs of a strategy start coming together.  So it is with HP’s Converged Storage strategy.

At previous HP events last year I noted that the recent storage acquisitions (Lefthand & Ibrix) were being powered by HP server hardware.  This makes sense as HP have a strong (read #1 market position) server product range.  This week HP revealed Store 360, the strategy to place all of those technologies on a consistent operating system platform.

What benefit does this give?  Well there are positives for HP and for customers.  From HP’s perspective they are simplifying their product development; lowering costs in the process.  Having the technology on a single platform enables software features to be migrated between the products; new features can be developed once and integrated across the entire product range.

For customers the benefits may be less obvious but they are there.  Standard HP hardware (including blades) can be used to deploy storage functionality and there’s the ability to re-purpose that hardware with no additional work.  So imagine in a private cloud environment the need to create additional file services or perhaps de-duplication.  An array can be build from an HP server & disk or even a single server blade.  The blade solution is already available today – the P4800 (and I have a video on that today).

It’s worth looking at the specific products to understand how arrays deployed on a common hardware platform could scale.  Lefthand, Ibrix and 3PAR are all node/clustered architectures that grow through adding additional nodes.  This fits perfectly with the concept of commodity or standardised hardware, something I discussed recently when talking about Nexenta.  The 3PAR platform may present more difficulty to commoditise as the nodes still use custom ASICs for on-the-fly thin provisioning functions.  Presumably these features could be provided by hardware on PCI-E cards or software.

At this stage Store 360 is a strategy, with products yet to be delivered.  However it’s the foundation to providing customer flexibility and for HP, increased competitiveness.  In line with previous comments I’ve made on the future of storage arrays, HP’s strategy confirms the hardware is less relevant and the features in software are most important and that’s where HP’s focus will be.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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