EMC will let the good times roll this week while Hewlett-Packard will roll the dice as both companies hold conferences for users of their storage systems.
As storage continues its reign as a major IT focus, EMC and HP both plan to debut new products to coincide with the meetings. EMC is expected to roll out its storage router, a key component of the company's storage virtualization strategy, at the EMC Technology Summit in New Orleans. HP, for its part, plans to place its cards on the table in Las Vegas with what it called the largest expansion of its StorageWorks line in the company's history.
HP, however, faces a big gamble with its storage rollout, said Randy Kerns, an analyst at consultancy the Evaluator Group.
"There's no doubt HP has had some challenges, but I think these new products and new enhancements show that the company is going to stick with what they know how to do and execute on those strengths," Kerns said.
One longtime HP user agreed and is glad to see it. "I go all the way back to the Digital Equipment days, so I've seen a lot of changes, through Compaq and now HP," said Kevin Donnellan, director of enterprise infrastructure services at the Screen Actors Guild Producers Pension and Health Plans (SAGPH) group. "I see these new announcements as an indication that HP is committed to refreshing and improving their product lines in areas that make sense for its customers. That's very important to us because otherwise we could start looking at other vendors," Donnellan said.
Among the new products HP will announce is a major refresh of its EVAs (Enterprise Virtual Arrays), the company's first since April 2003. It also marks the company's first venture into the enterprise NAS domain with the HP StorageWorks EFS (Enterprise File Services) Clustered Gateway.
"It's a good time for HP to get into the enterprise NAS space. I'm not going to say they're too late, but they couldn't have waited much longer," Evaluator Group's Kerns said.
Among the other products HP plans to introduce at the show are the StorageWorks Enterprise File Services WAN Accelerator, which will speed up storage for branch-office applications; the HP StorageWorks 6000 Virtual Library System, to improve backup and recovery performance; and the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Modular Library E-series, to expand HP's enterprise library products. The company also will announce the Information Lifecycle Management Services Framework, a set of storage consulting, support, and management services and Fast Recovery Solutions for most database environments.
"These announcements fill some product holes and show that HP is really back in the storage game. At the same time, EMC and IBM are hardly standing still," Kerns said. "Storage is a tough game."