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HP, IBM shake hands on storage swap

The companies announce a deal where HP's storage management software can talk to IBM's hardware, and vice versa. Standards it's not, but it is a step in the right direction.

Hewlett-Packard and IBM announced a deal Tuesday to allow each company's storage management software to work with the other company's hardware.

The move will allow HP's OpenView storage management software to manage IBM's TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server, code-named Shark. Meanwhile, IBM's storage software will be able to manage HP's systems from its StorageWorks line.

HP inked a similar deal with storage giant EMC last month.

"Having done deals with EMC and now IBM, this clearly gives us the ability to manage over 80 percent of the storage in the world today," HP vice president Mark Sorenson said in an interview.

Sorenson said the difference between today's deal and the one with EMC is that, in the long term, HP and IBM are committed to interoperability through open standards, while EMC is pushing its proprietary WideRay middleware. Although storage standards are the future, IBM and HP say interoperability agreements such as theirs are key intermediate steps.

Interoperability is one of the biggest concerns of storage customers who increasingly are trying to work with products from a variety of companies, said Brian Truskowski, chief technology officer of IBM Storage Systems Group.

"Customers want to know that the vendors are working together to provide interoperability," Truskowski said in a statement. "This agreement demonstrates to customers that we are working to solve their storage networking challenges today, even as we move forward with industry standards."

Sorenson agreed with that assessment and said the company will continue to talk with other players in the storage industry.

"Customers have manageability and interoperability needs today," Sorenson said. "They don't want to wait for standards to proliferate."

The next logical candidate for HP to sign a pact with would be Hitachi Data Systems.

"HP is engaged with other vendors to close that final 20 percent, if you will, of the marketplace," Sorenson said. "I would look forward to another announcement from HP within the next 30 days."