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HP uses Home Server to power storage for small biz

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HP has introduced a line of combined isCSI and file storage server/storage array bundles, and a small business backup product using Microsoft consumer backup software.

The HP StorageWorks X3000 Network Storage System is a line of pre-configured, factory-tested, single-SKU (stock-keeping unit) product sets for small and mid-sized business (SMB).

They add Windows-based IP gateway functionality, file and iSCSI bridges, to a Fibre Channel or SAS array, or into a Fibre Channel SAN. There are three configurations.

The X3400 is either a single node gateway with MSA2312sa storage (dual controller, 3Gbit/s SAS array, up to 29.7TB SAS or 60TB SATA capacity), or a dual node, high-availability product bundle with the same storage. The X3800 is a 2-node, similarly high availability, bundle with MSA2312fc storage. The "fc" indicates it's a Fibre Channel-connected array, with 4Gbit/s FC according to an HP web page. The storage capacity and drive types are the same as the MSA2312sa.

We should be thinking more medium than small business as the X3800 has dual Xeon E5530 processors, two 146GB 10K SAS drives - for the mirrored O/S only though, 12GB of RAM and runs Windows Storage Server 2008 Enterprise x64 Edition. It's good, HP says, for 400 to 2000 users.

The X3820 configuration includes a dual-controller MSA 2312fc array, cables and two Emulex 8Gbit/s LPe12002 Fibre Channel HBAs (Host Bus Adapters). This 8gig HBA use is odd.

First off, it would seem pretty ambitious for SMBs who won't normally be considered 8gig Fibre Channel prospects, but the 8gig links from the X3800 will operate with the MSA2312fc's 4Gbit/s ports, backward compatibility being the rule here. It looks like over-specification on the server side as, in the event, the X3800 will operate at 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel speed.

Steve Daheb, Emulex' chief marketing officer and an SVP, says: "The X3820 platform... is ideal for showcasing the capabilities of Emulex’s LightPulse 8Gb/s Fibre Channel HBAs.” Actually, it doesn't look as if it is that at all, since a storage array with 8Gbit/s FC ports would be a better match to the 8Gbit/s HBAs involved here.

Possibly server bandwidth for customers' potential upgrades to 8Gbit/s FC-connected storage arrays are being considered by HP and Emulex?

The X3820 is said to be good for applications such as supporting virtualised servers, Web stores, rich media applications and databases that require high availability. There are an additional five available PCI Express slots per node, making it quite expandable, and the bundle is said to be easy to install and set up.

HP has also announced a storage box that is most definitely for the smaller end of the SMB spectrum. The X500 Data Vault series provides, for less than $1,000, a way for a small business, a very small business, to store, secure and share data.

It's based on Microsoft Windows Home Server, provides automated backup for up to ten PC clients and Macs on the network, and has additional background features like folder duplication and data deduplication. It offers both local and remote file sharing via a custom URL which is accessible from any web browser.

The product supports up to 1.5TB of SATA disk space, depending upon the model, and there are two or three empty bays, again model-dependent, for internal storage expansion up to 6TB. It also offers external USB and eSATA ports for more external expansion, up to 13.5TB.

Windows Home Server is the Microsoft product that suffered from a major file corruption bug in late 2007, which was not fixed until around mid-2008. In November Microsoft cut the OEM price for the product by an energetic 30 per cent to try to combat low sales.

Apparently HP was involved in originally developing the software.

Using Microsoft consumer backup server software in a small business server product might strike some people as an example of under-specifying a storage product.

The X500 Data Vault Series is available now in select regions worldwide with pricing starting at €487. HP reckons it costs 22 per cent less than the Buffalo Terastation III 2TB product.

Neither Emulex nor HP were immediately able to answer the apparent 8Gbit/s HBA - 4Gbit/s array port mismatch query. ®

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