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Hewlett-Packard serves up storage

The company announces five new storage-related services. One involves making sure confidential data can't be reconstructed from decommissioned machines.

Promising to help companies manage complicated data storage systems, Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday announced five new services.

HP's Storage Area Management Solution aims to give clients better control over storage resources, while the Data Sanitization product is designed to keep sensitive data from being retrieved from decommissioned storage devices. The other services focus on data replication, disaster recovery and storage system assessment.

With this last product, the Storage Optimization Assessment, HP consultants will analyze a company's storage capacity and performance, as well as offer suggestions for getting a bigger bang for storage bucks.

HP's challenge with the assessment service will be convincing prospects that it can offer objective advice, said Doug Chandler, storage services analyst with market research firm IDC. "If they can get their customers into that mind-set that HP's not just trying to sell HP storage, then that can be successful," Chandler said.

Gary Wright, vice president of network storage services for HP Services, said HP's assessment offer stands out from rival services that are bundled with products. We've "made this a standalone service," Wright said. "It's all about helping them optimize their existing, multivendor storage environment."

In era of tight budgets, helping companies handle a tangle of information technology systems is a bright spot for tech companies, IDC said earlier this year. Compared with hardware devices, services and software are seen as more promising avenues for data storage companies, IDC's Chandler said. IDC projects that worldwide storage-services spending will climb from $21.2 billion in 2002 to $28.9 billion in 2007, representing compound annual growth of 6.4 percent.

HP may be seeking to offer assessment help apart from pitching its own products, but some of the new services are closely tied to HP's wares. Storage Area Management Solution is an implementation service for customers buying HP OpenView Storage Area Manager--a set of software products for managing storage area networks. The software supports both HP and non-HP storage devices.

The new data replication service involves implementing HP Continuous Access and Business Copy technologies. Business Copy allows for a snapshot of data to be taken in a storage device, while Continuous Access lets customers set up a remote duplicate of their data in real-time.

HP's data sanitization product aims to improve a company's information security by removing sensitive data from hardware after system upgrades, consolidations and storage platform migrations. The "Disaster Tolerant Management" service goes beyond data storage alone to cover facilities, server computers, networks and application management.

HP also is tweaking its pay-as-you-go plan for storage disk arrays. The plan, which allows customers to pay for additional storage disks as they are activated, now has a cap on monthly payments and a new Web portal allowing customers to monitor their storage usage.

HP storage products compete against those from IBM and EMC.