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HP sticks with Hitachi for storage

Hewlett-Packard renews a deal under which Hitachi supplies technology for its StorageWorks XP disk arrays. HP also unveils disaster recovery software for the system.

Storage
Hewlett-Packard will continue to get Hitachi's help making high-end data storage disk arrays through 2008, the result of a renewed deal.

The Palo Alto, Calif., computing giant announced on Wednesday that it has extended a joint technology deal with Hitachi. Since 1999, HP has used high-end disk array technology from the Japanese company to make HP StorageWorks XP products, which are designed for data centers in large organizations. HP adds its own software to the products.

In tandem with the announcement, HP unveiled a disaster recovery product that uses the StorageWorks XP family. The product includes data replication software to protect systems.

The terms of the renewed deal were not disclosed. Bob Schultz, HP's senior vice president for network storage, declined to provide sales growth figures for StorageWorks XP sales. But he said the high-end storage arena "continues to be a stable marketplace."

HP has sold 4,000 StorageWorks XP units since inking the original deal with Hitachi, Schultz said. Price tags for the systems, which can hold up to 1,024 hard drives and up to 149 terabytes of data, can go up to $1 million, Schultz said.

IBM, EMC and Hitachi itself also sell high-end storage devices. Sun Microsystems uses Hitachi's Lightning line of storage products for its high-end StorEdge 9900 series, sold under the Sun brand.

Data storage vendors have been focusing their efforts on software rather than hardware recently, as customers seek to manage their systems better.

The disaster recovery product HP introduced Wednesday, the "HP StorageWorks Multi-Site Disaster Tolerant Solution," includes data replication software to help customers recover application processing if a local or regional disaster occurs. HP servers and StorageWorks XP units are also components of the offering. According to HP, the disaster recovery product, which is available now, allows customers to typically get back on their computing feet in less than one hour.

With the product, two company sites less than 62 miles apart can mirror, or replicate, each other's data. This is designed to protect the information in case of a local disaster, with data from critical applications at one site mirrored to XP systems at the other. An XP system at a third site outside the region of the first two is also set up, in case the first two sites go down.

HP said so-called "synchronous" data replication is used between the two sites, allowing the second site to take over processing to virtually the exact point where it is interrupted in the event of a failure at the first.

"Asynchronous" replication is used to get data to the distant site. Asynchronous replication can mean that a less-than-complete data set gets to the remote site, but using synchronous replication at great distances can significantly slow down the computing performance at the original site.

HP has had synchronous and asynchronous data replication products in the past. But the new offering integrates them better, Schultz said.

HP isn't alone in working on data replication at a distance. IBM, for example, announced an upgrade to its remote-copy technology in June.

Disaster recovery is seen as a promising field in a dreary tech-spending climate. Last year, market research firm IDC said the business continuity market--including software and hardware such as storage area networks--would expand from $29.9 billion in 2001 to $54.9 billion in 2006, representing annual growth of 12.9 percent.

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