Hewlett-Packard, trying to raise the profile of its data
storage products, unleashed a swarm of 22 products today in an attempt to
better tap into a growing market.
Sales of data storage devices bring HP many billions of dollars in revenue
each year, but "it's a secret inside of HP," said Duane Zitzner, head of
the HP division that includes low-end storage and PCs in an interview.
"We're trying to ratchet up the communication."
Data storage, for years a necessary but somewhat
drab part of corporate computer networks, has been coming out of the closet
as computer companies realize just how much money it earns. Some analysts
estimate that when a computer company sells a storage system along with a
higher-profile server computer, the storage system still accounts for half
"I personally think that storage will become more of an entity to be
considered in and of itself than it has before," said Illuminata analyst John Webster.
"It's part of the evolution of storage moving out from behind the server."
However, that profit margin may not stay as fat now that companies such as
HP, IBM, Compaq Computer, Sun Microsystems, EMC, and Dell all move to sell more storage
and competition gets fiercer.
But with the Internet and the spread of computers in general, there's room
for a lot of growth. "The world is becoming more and more digital," Zitzner
A new storage appliance from HP
Among HP's new products are drives that can create DVD disks, new tape
libraries for backing up data, and a bigger magneto-optical disk system for
customers who need to archive data on disks that last decades. But an
interesting new direction for HP is a special-purpose file server that HP
says is cheaper than general-purpose servers.
The HD Server 4000 holds as many as 90 gigabytes of data and costs about
$8,000 in its most expensive configuration, said Todd Owens, a marketing
manager for HP's information storage group.
The devices, as previously reported
by CNET News.com, aren't as fast or as specialized as the much more
expensive products from Network Appliance, but they are designed to be more
powerful than the low-priced storage servers Quantum obtained with its
Meridian Data acquisition in May.
"This might be a little more forward-thinking a product than it appears to
be," Webster said of the new HP storage server. "Little products like this
have a funny habit of growing up."
The file server fits into a category called "network-attached storage," or
NAS, the small-scale devices that plug into a network to easily expand file
storage capacity. Market research firm
International Data Corporation projects that
storage market will explode to
$5.1 billion in 2003.
However, unlike the servers from Quantum and Network Appliance, HP's
products only can fit into Window NT networks, Owens said. Quantum's
servers can plug straight into Windows, Unix, Novell, or Apple networks,
said Quantum marketing vice president Jeff Hill. Network Appliance's
products are well-adapted for Unix networks.
HP will add support for Unix and Novell environments in the spring, Owens
Some analysts believe that special-purpose "server appliances" threaten the revenues computer
makers earn from general-purpose servers, but Owens said he doesn't think
that's likely in the case of the HD Server.
"Why pay for the license [of general-purpose server software] just
to get an electronic file cabinet?" he asked.
Internally, the HD Server itself runs a stripped-down version of the Unix
operating system, Owens said.