HP marks XP birthday with search for ultimate challenge

There are a fair few anniversaries taking place this year in the storage world as vendors and technologies hit particular milestones.

There are a fair few anniversaries taking pleace this year in the storage world as vendors and technologies hit particular milestones.

Among the list is the tenth birthday of Hewlett-Packard StorageWorks XP Disk Arrays and over the decade the vendor has not only improved its technology but seen the demand from customers change as capacities increase.

Unlike some technologies the XP disk array sticks in the mind for a couple of reasons including the campaign where HP fired a bullet at the product to prove it was resilient and then went one stage further in a follow-up effort blowing it up and proving it could still work.

Things started when HP announced an OEM relationship with Hitachi and introduced our StorageWorks XP platform. The XP is now in its sixth generation and in terms of capacity has grown from an initial scaling of 9TBs to now 1PB in a single array.

To mark the tenth anniversary the vendor has been running a competition to encourage customers to challenge the technology with potential scenarios where it would be pushed to the limit (see box).

This reputation for bullets and explosives is one of the aspects that is instantly recalled by Richard Masterson, UK and Ireland StorageWorks manager, but he is also aware of the way the emphasis has shifted from the tin to management.

A decade ago the phrase 'throw some more tin at it' was one that seemed to sum up a storage industry that was focused on ensuring customers could find a home for their ever growing data demands.

But things have changed and what customers are looking for now is help with management.

"if you go back 25 years you see storage being relativelt dumb hanging off the back of servers. What people do and the role they get their storage to play has evolved year on year and if you look at the datacentre less happens in the server environment than in the storage environment," says Masterson.

One of the current trends is to classify data and introduce heirachies that enable customers to reduce the amount of unstructured information swilling round the network.

"The expotential growth is continuing in storage and we have to become more intelligent about it can't keep throwing storage at it and have to use it wisely. It is taking some time to classify data but one of the things in this economic climate is we have to ask how we are using storage and have a sanity check," said Simon Brassington, enterprise storage product manager at HP StorageWorks.

Looking forward from the past the question of moving towards more structured data and the provision of more management tools is paramount.

"One of the by products of virtualisation is arguably more management effort. It is a key aspect," says Masterson.

As well as management, intelligent storage and being more careful with resources the other concern for customers going forward is around the green credentials of storage.

In the decade that XP Storage Arrays have been around the questions of heat and power consumption have shot up the agenda and Masterson expects them to increase even more in their importance in the future.

As various parts of the storage industry mark their milestones the importance of the technology is more relevant than ever even if resellers are now having to go in with a slightly different message than the one they delivered in 2000.

The XP Challenge

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of XP, HP UK has launched a online competition challenge to UK Customers who face huge amounts of data growth.

On the site HP's StorageWorks division is encouraging CIOs and IT directors to challenge them to find an solution to their top storage problem.

Jon Collins, Analyst from Freeform Dynamics along with a panel of judges from HP will select a winning challenge from all entries. The organisation with the winning challenge will get an HP Storage Infrastructure Maturity Model Assessment worth approximately £5,000. On top of that, their challenge will be solved on video by a team of HP experts.

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