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Compaq separates storage software to increase efficiency

The company splits its storage software unit into a separate division to make its storage business less tightly tied to its own hardware.

Compaq Computer has split its storage software unit into a separate division in an effort to make its storage business less tightly tied to its own hardware.

The unit will ensure Compaq storage software can incorporate storage hardware not just from Compaq, but also from other major storage companies such as EMC, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, said Mark Lewis, vice president of the newly formed enterprise storage software business.

The software, which will acquire the new SANworks moniker, will compete with offerings from EMC, but it operates at a higher level than storage management software from companies such as Computer Associates, Veritas or IBM's Tivoli, Lewis said.

The company also took a step toward trying to reduce the difficulties in mixing different types of hardware for a relatively new data storage philosophy called storage area networks. SANs are separate networks devoted chiefly to centralizing storage systems instead of many different storage devices attached to many different servers. However, the technology has been hampered by components such as disk arrays, hubs, switches and server adapters that don't work properly together.

Compaq provided $8 million toward a 15,000-square-foot site in Colorado Springs where companies will be able to mix and match their SAN components, Lewis said.

Though Compaq is funding the site, it will be run by the comparatively neutral Storage Networking Industry Association, a nonprofit organization comprised of 110 companies and devoted to the greater glories of SANs. Lewis expects other companies besides Compaq to participate.

Compaq--as well as IBM, Dell Computer, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard--backs storage area networks, but those systems typically package a specific collection of hardware pretested to work together.

The storage software unit at Compaq, based in Colorado Springs, has about 100 employees and hopes to double in size within the next year, Lewis said.