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HP steps up its game in data protection

HP boxes up Microsoft Data Protection Manager; OEMs database archiving software from OuterBay and remote backup software from Asigra for electronic vaulting service.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has unveiled a handful of new products that address data protection requirements, raising its game another notch in the storage marketplace.

The first of five products includes the HP ProLiant DL 100 G2 and ProLiant DL 380 G4 Data Protection Storage Servers (DPSS), built around Microsoft's Data Protection Manager (DPM) and Windows Storage Server 2003 products.

Windows Storage Server 2003 and DPM offer users a NAS box with disk-based backup built in. Microsoft DPM can take a volume-level snapshot every hour of Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 servers only. Microsoft refers to this feature as "near continuous data protection."

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"It eliminates complexity for customers, it provides one-click data protection that is easier to use and deploy than competitive offerings," claimed HP's Thomas Goepel, worldwide business strategy and portfolio manager for HP StorageWorks Services.

Greg Schulz, senior analyst at the Evaluator Group, agreed that for many customers, this kind of bundled offering is ideal. "It's great if you can't afford a dedicated system administrator and you don't need to do much customization." He added, "It's not going to be for everyone as it doesn't support all platforms and doesn't provide file-level changes." One user familiar with HP DPSS sees a definite advantage in buying all the pieces from one vendor.

"HP offers better support than Microsoft; it's faster and we cut out the red tape," said Vallerie Shelton, senior director of information technology at Kroenke Sports Enterprises LLC.

Kroenke was using disk-based backup product InfiniSAN to back up a mix of 35 NT and Windows 2003 servers. However, this product is being discontinued. Kroenke expects to use DPSS to back up eight remote sites in the Denver area. "[Before DPSS] we were doing one copy a day, so this is a great improvement over that and the end-user restore feature is useful for when our accounting group loses files … They are savvy enough to deal with it themselves," Shelton said.

HP builds on OEM strategy

At its StorageWorks conference in May, HP announced a string of OEM deals that have enabled the company to leapfrog into new markets. A virtual tape library from Sepaton Inc., a NAS gateway from PolyServe Inc. and a WAN accelerator from Riverbed Technology Inc., were first on the list.

The announcements this week build on that strategy. HP's new Electronic Vaulting Service uses Asigra Inc.'s agentless remote backup software to send offsite data to an HP Recovery Center for protection and retention purposes. A single-instance feature and compression capability means that users who don't have expensive leased lines can use dial-up speeds to send their data, HP's Goepel said. The service will be priced on a per gigabyte per month basis. HP declined to give details on the pricing.

An OEM deal with Outerbay Technologies Inc. provides HP with file migration and database archiving software. HP File Migration Agent enables users to create policies to maintain active files on high-performance storage and migrate inactive files to cheaper storage. The software can migrate data to NAS, HP's Reference Information Storage System, tape or to non-HP devices, the company said.

HP StorageWorks Reference Information Manager for database archiving is an active archiving product that automates data retention policies and simplifies management of large, complex databases, HP said. Data that's used infrequently is migrated out of the database, improving the response time of the application and lowering operational costs, according to the company.

"It's good that HP feels it doesn't have to invent everything as it means they can get to market quickly with new products," Evaluator Group's Schulz said. "But they should also be careful they don't end up with a Chinese menu of products to resell as that adds cost and overhead."

HP has also improved the performance of its VTL system from Sepaton, dubbed HP 6000 Virtual Library System. The latest version supports 40 terabytes (TB) up from 10 TB and throughput of 577 Mbps vs. 400 Mbps in the older product.

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