Hewlett-Packard is now visibly unifying across its Large Enterprise Division, with the often highly independent storage and server units and HP Labs working more closely together to bring unified products to market. The process of pulling these often highly independent divisions within a company never known for its unity of direction together has taken several years, but it is now beginning to pay off visibly.
One fruit of this closer coordination, says HP senior StorageWorks executive David Roberson, is the converged HP infrastructure. Interviewed on Siliconangle.tv by Wikibon CEO and co-founder and storage industry analyst David Vellante at VMworld 2010, he said that the benefit of that can be seen in HP's CloudStart. This product, announced at VMworld, is HP's unified stack product, combining storage, networking, services, software, and hardware. HP's goal, he said, is to make it easier for customers to create their own private cloud.
Building on a common platform, based on blades designed by the server group, changes the focus of storage at HP from hardware to software innovation. One recent product of this refocus is HP's StoreOnce system end-to-end data dedup and solution. the product is the result of a partnership between the storage organization and HP Labs.
The important thing about StoreOnce, Mr. Vellante said, is that it works across a converged architecture. “The problem with many products on the market is that they are stovepiped. You have one technology here and another there and another over there. So when you start moving data around the network you have to rehydrate it, and that causes clogs in the network. HP's vision is really to put the IT anywhere.”
The HP vision for this product, said Storage executive Paul Perez, is an end-to-end system that allows customers to optimize their data system whether they start from a virtual machine, a disk appliance, or a media server.
“We see storage as part of our end-to-end solution rather than a separate thing,” Mr. Roberson said. The emphasis now is on bringing the integration to the marketplace rather than selling components – a server here, a network connection over there, and a storage device somewhere else – and leaving it either to resellers or customers to figure out how to build a working system from the boxes.
One major challenge to building that unified stack, however, is getting all the pieces. For instance, Mr. Roberson said, while HP provides security in many areas and forms, one of the most important components it got with the recent 3Com acquisition was one of the leading network intrusion security applications on the market.
“We definitely take security seriously,” he said. “Overall we prefer to develop from within, but when we have a hole and there is a really good product out there, we are not against strategic acquisitions.”