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Converged or Unified


HP Discover 2011 was very informative in relation to some of the new storage strategy that HP has laid for its future. Hearing some keynotes, coffee talks and having one on one meetings with HP execs, you start hearing a consist message of integration across their storage, systems and networking business, a converged strategy. We have been staying close and watching HP for the past year and a half having attended the Storage Tech Days, Blades Day and some other events, we have previously heard the messages around converged infrastructures strategy.

 

Now after a few of these events and HP Discover 2011, it’s quite visible the direction HP is moving towards, It is not about just messaging but a fair amount of execution around these platforms. I truly think the team that has been brought in and runs their Enterprise Storage, Systems and Networking business is working very hard to make a big impact within HP on integrating these business units and sharing technology innovations with a common goal between these business units, which would help make a big impact to all HP customers.

 

The Converged storage strategy within HP is no news now, even the branding around their Storage business has now been changed from StorageWorks to HP Storage. HP natively had HP EVA and HP MSA platforms, over the last few years they have acquired technologies like Lefthand, IBRIX and 3Par. Trying to keep these platforms independent and support engineering teams across these platforms would be a challenge in itself with heavy cost of managing these products and possibly have conflicting messages to the internal sales teams and the customer base.

 

At HP Discover they announced their Converged storage strategy for the platforms they have acquired over the past few years, into a single code base offering customers a much needed flexibility. The Store 360 strategy within HP is all about sharing the common code base, features, from its StoreOnce dedup platform, IBRIX Scalable NAS platform and LeftHand VSA platform. These platforms will share the same Linux kernel going forward and have joint development teams, integrating all of these platforms into the Proliant Server commodity hardware. Each of these platforms will still manage and maintain it’s unique features and integrate within HP’s Virtual System and Cloud System offering.

 

It is very visible, 3Par will follow the same route in the near future with integration of 3Par technology into HP’s Proliant Server – common commodity hardware platform and preserve some custom ASIC’s during the first few iterations, then eventually move towards a total Intel based platform eliminating ASIC’s by robust software features.

 

So compared to HP’s converged strategy for it Storage platforms, we see a contradictory move by it’s competition towards a unified storage strategy. With Netapp and EMC who are todays prominent storage players, they have focused their resources towards building Unified storage with Federation and other features for the customers.

 

Non of HP platforms today neither their Store 360 strategy seems to focus towards Unified Storage, they have independent platforms for their SAN and NAS offerings. These are various (different) building blocks for the customer needs and not one box fits all use case strategy. The consolidation of File and Block storage on the current WAFL based systems and VNX systems is a unified strategy that is being pushed very hard by NetApp and EMC respectively. Both EMC and NetApp have gone to a commodity hardware based platform using the Intel Architecture, further consolidating their products to offer both File and Block storage into a single product.

 

It’s too hard and probably too early to say who the winners will be in the game. But one thing we learned at HP Discover was HP is totally focused on it’s converged storage strategy and throwing resources towards building a matrix of systems that clearly integrates it’s Networking, Systems and Storage products into a common platform that customers can deploy in/as private or public clouds.

  • http://blogstu.wordpress.com stu

    Devang,
    In general, I see Unified as multi-protocol (most define it as block+file) while converged is putting together multiple layers of the stack. While HP is probably furthest along with merging server and storage products while EMC and NetApp are doing convergence through the converged stacks with Cisco – my write-up on the options: http://wikibon.org/wiki/v/Convergence_Moves_Up_the_Stack_to_Applications_and_Greater_IT_Efficiency.
    Good to see you at the show and glad to see you posting articles :)

  • http://storagenerve.com storagenerve

    Interesting post Stu. It is interesting to see the blurring lines between server and storage when it comes to HP, atleast the Hardware it runs on is commodity hardware (servers). Though i dont see a them making a move towards unified platforms (file and block) under the same umbrella. It may be possible, they would  as next step try to integrate the SAN and NAS offering into a single platform under Store 360. 

  • gamebred26

    Good luck guy. Dont be a stranger.