Storage has always been the half-forgotten little sister at server companies. But in the last year at Hewlett-Packard storage has grown up and is ready to play in the big leagues. This evolution was kick-started when Dave Donatelli, known for his hard-driving, results-oriented management style, was put in charge of HP's Enterprise Server, Storage, Networking division. A key to the HP infrastructure strategy has been a string of acquisitions – Left Hand, Ibrix, Vertica, and 3PAR, which brought the storage division both advanced new technology and highly talented new staff members. And HP Labs contributed the StoreOnce deduplication technology to that mix, giving HP all the building blocks of a storage architecture that can go up against any competitor in the business.
One of those talented individuals, Craig Nunes, formerly vice president of marketing at 3Par and now VP of storage marketing for HP, got in front of the SiliconAngle.TV cameras in the Cube at SNW 2011 in early April to talk about what HP is doing. A full transcription of the half-hour conversation with Wikibon's David Vellante and SiliconAngle's John Furrier is available here.
What HP has done so far, he says, is nothing less than the full integration of all these pieces into a comprehensive storage architecture that completely transforms its storage offering. Now its engineering team is concentrating on extending that architecture in part through partnerships with other vendors such as the Microsoft alliance to build a joint hardware/software platform for Microsoft Exchange. The engineers are also working to extend StoreOnce, which today resides on the primary storage platform, to also go on the backup platform. The goal there is to have it on all platforms across client architectures so that customers can move their data wherever they need it without rehydrating it.
And beyond that, HP is integrating storage, servers, and networking tightly into pre-configured infrastructure building-blocks that customers can drop into their architectures.
“All the stuff that we never had <at 3Par> but so desperately coveted is here at HP with open arms,” he says. “Great scale-out. Great deduplication technology, a wonderful virtualization platform in the Left Hand technology,” What HP needs now is an equally great marketing effort to “get that word out about all that has changed with the HP storage.”
The Bigger Picture
Driving this effort is a new corporate vision of the future of computing, based on the twin trends of virtualization and hybrid cloud computing.
“We are fundamentally talking about IT-as-a-service and how that's changing strategically the roles of IT,” Mr. Nunes says. “How IT is becoming not just builders but brokers of services into their organization and how they cope with that.”
And for a start, he says, HP wants to answer a question it increasingly gets from users: “Hybrid cloud, what does that mean and how do I get there?”
Action Item: Users are facing a tectonic shift from the distributed architecture of the last two decades to a much more flexible IT-as-a-service architecture. This requires virtualization and tighter integration of storage, server, and network, along with other advanced technologies. Rolling your own – building the flexible, integrated architecture required from the typical “one of everything” environment in most large data centers -- is daunting. HP wants to be the vendor who can provide the tightly integrated infrastructure that users need, and its platform is impressive, innovative, and well worth considering.