HP's XP marches onward into new decade
May 6, 2009
This week marks a fresh decade for HP's XP, the StorageWorks disk array that Hewlett-Packard has been selling since 1999. From humble beginnings in an XP48 configuration, the storage units have grown to XP12000 arrays. The XP48 could take on 48 devices for up to 3.5 terabytes of storage. The XP12000 now acommodates up to 12 petabytes of storage, or about 3,000 times as much as 1999's XP48.
An HP executive of more than 18 years storage experience recalls this week that HP 3000s were in the earliest target market for the XP devices. But the storage arrays didn't even gain the XP name until storage competitor EMC sued HP. Hewlett-Packard landed on the "XP" years before Microsoft picked those two letters to stamp its latest Windows. The XP arrays are a homesteading solution as an upgrade to existing internal storage, and the latest models can serve multiple operating environments all at once in migration and transition environments.
3000s were one of the first two targets to sell XPs. StorageWorks Marketing Communications Manager Calvin Zito writes in the Around the Storage Block blog on HP's Communities site, "One of my roles was to work with our server divisions--our HP3000 and HP9000--about the coming XP Disk Array. Since HP was reselling [Hitachi's] high-end product, they needed to be in a position to integrate the XP into their offerings."
Zito goes on to comment on a "Five Nines" initiative for the HP9000 group, a clue that these big arrays had more initial targets in HP's Unix enterprise customer sites. But he had his start as an HP 3000 CE in the 1980s before moving into HP marketing and then storage.
The vendor called the XP arrays stress-free in 1999, and bullet-proof in 2006. A fun test followed. HP used 70 pounds of C-4 explosives to blow up an XP12000 array in 2007, along with servers, to show how fast enterprise systems could be switched over to hot sites. But the first explosion for this line was to jettison its initial name, once EMC learned that HP was launching the SureStore E Series MC256. HP reps and partners were calling it the array the Series E MC256.
The two companies parted ways in 1999's summer when EMC ended its resale contract with HP — once HP put its own brand on a competing disk product manufactured by Hitachi. The vendor's relations with EMC have slid to the point where the leader of EMC's storage sector jumped a non-compete clause to join HP, assuming the post of retiring executive Scott Stallard. Stallard led the HP enterprise server business, among other duties.
But the XP arrays have always been a compatible partner with the HP 3000. The latest editions of the devices require a management console which has nothing to do with MPE/iX, but that kind of controller is standard for arrays these days.