HP Targets Web 2.0 Firms With Heavy-Duty NAS System

HP announced on Tuesday a new, highly scalable storage system meant to address the needs of online and digital media businesses. The HP StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data Storage System (ExDS9100) is designed to simplify the management of multiple petabytes of data with an eye to affordability.

New Web 2.0-centric businesses and digital media companies like photo-sharing, streaming video, video-on-demand and social networking operations produce an enormous quantity of file-based data they need to store, manage and retrieve on the fly. Other more traditional large enterprises in the oil and gas, security and surveillance, energy exploration and genetic research industries also share this needs, HP said.

“The amount of HD (high-definition) TV content being captured by all those cameras adds up very, very quickly. At the Olympics, they actually have 2,000 cameras to capture everyone’s move at any one time. Various police departments are looking at having their officers walk around with a camera in their hat or badge to cut down on paper work at the end of the day and for use in courtrooms,” said Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for HP StorageWorks.

The ExDS9100 is the first complete hardware and software system in planned series of HP storage offerings for scale-out environments like cloud computing operations. Its cost-effective architecture manages these environments, enabling businesses to provide new online services or improve existing offerings to drive new revenue streams, the company said.

HP plans to roll out the ExDS9100 by the end of the fourth quarter of 2008.

Public Storage

Companies like telecoms, photo-sharing operations, collaborative social networks, analytics and biotechnology firms need ways to store massive amounts of unstructured, file-based data.

“It is a growing market. There aren’t thousands of these companies out there, but there’s enough that there is a market. This is for companies that are adding a massive amount of storage to their systems regularly and quickly,” said Andrew Reichman, a Forrester Research analyst.

The platform is comprised of an HP BladeSystem chassis that can hold up to 16 blade servers with up to 12.8 cores per unit for a 3.2 gigabyte per second performance level. Storage controllers and high-availability “storage blocks” — three in the base configuration — with a 246 terabyte capacity, sit side by side in the same rack. The maximum configuration supports as many as 10 storage blocks and 820 TB of capacity, according to HP. For additional storage, businesses can add on another rack, giving them up to 1.64 petabytes of storage.

The ExDS9100 leverages HP’s file-clustering software and applications will run directly on the server block, thus doing away with an unneeded software tier. A single graphical management interface handles both servers and storage.

“With the unified management system, it takes only one administrator for each petabyte worth of data, which is 5 times and 10 times less than previous systems,” Eitenbichler noted.

In terms of affordability, he said, the system will cost businesses less than US$2 per gigabyte of storage.

“When customers buy storage of a similar nature, they pay between two and five times more per gigabyte,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Meeting the Need

While it is difficult to evaluate the system before it has gone into production, Reichman said that HP’s system “makes sense.”

“I don’t know that the need has been completely defined in terms of, how much horsepower do you need? What are the scalability points that you need to have? I think it remains to be seen exactly how well they meet the needs [of this market segment]. But I think it has the potential to do so,” he told TechNewsWorld.

However, one thing Reichman said he would like to see HP do better with the ExDS9100 is to feature greater granularity on the back end. The points of scalability control the user has are the number of network attached storage filers on the front end, he said, but added that they don’t have granularity yet in terms of the processor to disk ratio.

“They sort of have front-end linear scalability, but not necessarily back-end linear scalability. I’d like to see them either make it completely linear so you can grow it and change it as needed or maybe a couple different flavors of control and power density that they sell the system in to meet the varying needs of different customers,” he continued.

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