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HP steps up Internet storage efforts

Hewlett-Packard has purchased Left Hand Networks, a producer of Internet SCSI storage solutions, for $360 million, a cash buyout that shows HP wants a better offering of iSCSI products. The iSCSI architecture connects SCSI storage devices — either drives or arrays of drives — using the Internet's protocol. These kinds of storage advances are unlikely to be available to HP 3000 customers until an emulator for the 3000 is offered.

Storage is an HP focus in its enterprise business, so much so that the company's business computing unit is inside a group called Enterprise Storage and Servers (note the order of computing device there in the name). The purchase of LeftHand will help HP extend integration between LeftHand's iSCSI networking and HP's business server solutions other than the ProLiant line.

It's not that ProLiant servers are left out at LeftHand; these Xeon-based SMB-sized systems are already supported in an OEM deal. What HP will offer through its acquisition is storage over networks to the smaller customer which is less complex than the Storageworks EVA products. "Customers need a faster, less complex, and more economical route to storage networking to protect critical business data," said Dave Roberson, senior vice president and general manager of HP's StorageWorks Division. iSCSI definitely has an overlap with existing HP storage solutions — so much so that the company's storage resellers will need to revisit which product fits best for an SMB customer.

Storage Area Networks (SAN) are an accessible technology for HP 3000 sites today, so long as an intermediate server is controlling network access and architecture. But iSCSI simplifies SAN, and simple design is a favorite with HP 3000 sites. Plus there's the fact that Dell purchased iSCSI provider EqualLogic last year for $1.4 billion. Since Windows and industry-standard solutions are favored among HP 3000 migrators, keeping up with Dell is important for HP to continue relations with companies leaving the HP 3000.

HP said that adding LeftHand will help companies move to SANs for a significantly lower cost, manage data more easily, and scale storage infrastructures incrementally as the businesses grow.

LeftHand deploys intelligent-cloning technology in virtualized environments, a setup which can reduce the amount of disk space required for storage by up to 97 percent, according to the company. Customers can stretch less storage to cover more servers using the virtualization, according to HP, which explained each of the iSCSI solution targets now in the company's sights.

With the addition of LeftHand Networks, HP will add midrange offerings to its suite of iSCSI solutions. Customer needs at the low end of the market will be met with the HP StorageWorks All-in-One Storage System (AiO) and HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Array (MSA) product lines. The high end will be addressed by the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) line. Customers will further benefit since LeftHand Networks’ solutions are already certified to work with a wide range of HP products, including HP ProLiant servers, HP BladeSystem infrastructure, HP ProCurve Networking and HP Insight Control management software.

“The acquisition of LeftHand Networks significantly expands our storage portfolio," said Roberson, "enabling HP to deliver customers an expanded suite of storage functionality, scalable capacity and interconnect options for every budget and performance requirement. With our strong channel and leading position in the industry-standard server market, we are ideally positioned to deliver this technology to customers worldwide.”