Last week, HP continued its attempts to win the hearts and minds of enterprise storage buyers by releasing a slew of products designed to beef up its Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) portfolio. The announcement included five new products and three major product enhancements. With these releases, HP appears to be directly targeting last year's product releases from other major storage players (particularly IBM and EMC). Those releases led to increased sales in 2005 as compared with HP's storage slump during fourth quarter 2004.

It's a safe bet that the regulatory environment has been a big help to storage vendors, as requirements for record keeping, maintenance, and security are imposed on businesses' data. ILM providers have seen growth in their business, and HP has been very aggressive about staying on the cutting edge of ILM, as the new releases show. Let's look at their highlights.

The latest version of HP OpenView Storage Data Protector provides enhancements to disk and tape-backup protection, such improved backup-speed performance, a topic that's always an issue for backup administrators. HP also announced a new tool, HP StorageWorks Reference Information Manager for Databases (RIM for DB), which migrates seldom-used data to archived storage and is based on technology that HP purchased in early February 2006, from OEM OuterBay Technologies. (For more information, see "HP Moves into Database Archiving," February 2006, InstantDoc ID 49378). And the new version of HP StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System (RISS) is a real-time archiving solution that lets customers more easily store, access, and retrieve reference data. The most compelling claim is that by offering higher-capacity "smart-cell" technology and three to five times the data compression previously available through single-block instancing, RISS can lower per-terabyte storage costs by as much as 75 percent--a claim, which, if verifiable, should draw a lot of business HP's way.

RISS also has a connection to the desktop world via the new HP StorageWorks Reference Information Manager for Files, software that continuously acquires files stored on Windows XP desktop computers and file servers, which clients can later retrieve. By reducing repetitive storage of the same data, RISS decreases the necessary storage requirements for data accessed by multiple users.

Information acquisition isn't relegated only to RIM for DB and RISS. HP's new HP StorageWorks Continuous Information Capture application, as its name implies, continuously captures file and application data and lets you recover data to any point in time. The product performs without interfering with database or application operations and can significantly speed up database recovery as compared with traditional database-rollback techniques.

To provide data and information protection for Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange Server, HP released HP StorageWorks Application Recovery Manager. This product provides instant recovery of Exchange and SQL Server databases and easily integrates with existing storage-protection environments.

These recent ILM additions indicate that HP is well positioned to establish a dominant place in the Windows Server storage market. I'm sure we'll be hearing shortly from other top-tier storage players as they return the volley to HP. Although the storage market has gotten a shot in the arm from the regulatory requirements driving application and storage acquisition, the tough competition in this market segment is proving beneficial to consumers of the technology as well.