In mid December 1999, HP released SureStore E, a package of storage platforms, services, and software for storage consolidation on Windows NT-based server systems. HP’s solution revolves around its XP256 storage platform and the SureStore E SAN Manager LM. The company also offers consolidation, implementation, and deployment services to help with the storage consolidation process. HP claims that SureStore E SAN Manager LM is the only software product that lets you reallocate storage in a consolidated storage unit between different NT servers without rebooting the servers. This approach greatly decreases downtime in the storage consolidation process, making the consolidation of mission-critical data both possible and economical. IBM’s storage consolidation package also uses HP’s SureStore E SAN Manager LM. I spoke to David Scott, HP’s general manager of Extended Platform Operations. He told me that HP had been moving toward this offering since May 1999, when the company took two major steps toward becoming a competitor in the storage consolidation arena. HP added a new high-end storage platform and acquired Transoft Networks, which Scott described as “the leading tech provider of SAN network solutions for the NT environment.” Scott emphasized that HP’s storage solution is multi-vendor. HP, he said, promises break-fix support for its products and for the products of many other vendors, including Dell, Compaq, and IBM. Scott outlined what he called the three major problems for networks using standard, distributed storage. First, explained Scott, traditional distributed storage uses storage space very inefficiently. “One NT server may be full on storage; another NT server down the hall may have 80 percent free.” Second, he continued, traditional distributed storage is difficult to manage. Scott estimated that in a distributed storage environment, one administrator can manage, on average, 100GB of data; in a consolidated storage environment, however, one administrator can manage 750GB of data. Third, he argued, storage consolidation resolves the inefficient and confusing process of backing up storage. Scott offered the example of one HP customer, an unnamed high-tech manufacturer, that “consolidated 14 NT servers with 1.4TB of internal storage with a utilization of 50 percent. Consolidation created a 1TB storage array utilized at 70 percent.” Scott claimed that the first year’s storage savings were $1.5 million, while the total solution cost, from hardware and software to deployment services, was $800,000 to $900,000.