Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a $49-billion company with about 70,000 employees that dominates the printing marketplace, is strong in workstations and servers, is a leader in tape storage, and has a storage division that is moving up in the marketplace. Noted for quality engineering and products, HP hasn't exactly been known for being nimble on its feet.

A little more than a year ago, HP Storage stopped reselling EMC Symmetrix and started selling Hitachi Data System (HDS) Freedom arrays. To paraphrase one well-known storage-industry analyst, "HDS has a heck of a product but can't market itself out of a paper bag." HP isn't known for its ability to market products either; the company relies on quality to recommend its products. Still, against this backdrop, HP Storage has had a pretty good year, more than recapturing the market share in networked storage lost during the transition to Hitachi. HP quotes a study that research analyst group D. H. Brown Associates conducted; the study rates HP first overall in the storage market (which I can't believe), first in library shipments, first in magneto optical, second in storage services, third in online Windows NT and UNIX attached disk, and fourth in network storage.

HP is good at building hardware, but OEMs produce the big Hitachi storage arrays. I've heard people speculate about HP building its own arrays some day, but so far that hasn't happened.

HP has an advantage over Hitachi in its ability to write quality software. In a survey last June, Windows 2000 Magazine readers rated HP OpenView the number-one management framework in use. To leverage its advantage, HP is releasing a lot of storage management software that integrates with OpenView.

HP describes its enterprise storage strategy as the "HP Federated Storage Area Management (FSAM)," which is clearly a marketing umbrella. Still, the umbrella covers some real products. Among recent FSAM strategy announcements are the HP Network Storage Appliance, HP SureStore Virtual Array 7100 (and a family of virtual array enterprise software products), and HP OpenView Storage Area Manager (SAM).

HP Network Storage Appliance is a Windows-based storage network solution based on Win2K Embedded. The Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliance is expected to ship in second quarter 2001. HP SureStore Virtual Array 7100 is a second-generation disk array that will ship in April. Expect to see HP introduce large-port-count fibre channel switches in April as well. HP also reports that it will demo a SCSI-over-IP (iSCSI) appliance late this year.

HP OpenView SAM is a suite of Windows-based storage management software that combines several new HP software products—HP OpenView Storage Node Manager, HP OpenView Storage Allocater (formerly LUN Manager), HP OpenView Storage Optimizer, and HP OpenView Storage Builder into a management platform for storage networks. This HP OpenView SAM suite is integrated into the HP Network Storage Appliance and will also begin shipping in April. SAM lets you create and manage multiple Windows domains on a Storage Area Network (SAN) zone.

The new HP software products included in HP OpenView SAM plus OpenView OmniBack II (HP, NT Solaris) and OpenView Storage Allocater are meant to provide "single pane of glass" node and element management, access security and resource pooling, capacity and performance management, accounting tools, file services, and load-balancing tools.

In the 2001 through 2003 time frame, HP will release HP OpenView Storage Accountant (for policy and fault management), HP OpenView Data Manager, and HP OpenView Multi-path (for file sharing). In early 2002, HP will add data protection (LAN-free and server-less backup), media management, replication and mirroring, and Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) software. HP's software roadmap is ambitious.

Any way you slice it, that's a lot of activity and a lot of new products. HP Storage is running fast. But what makes HP storage most notable is the scope of its storage hardware and software offerings.