HP pushes software defined agenda with Virtual Storage Appliance giveaway

Hewlett Packard’s storage chief David Scott says the company aims to speed enterprise adoption of software defined storage and all-flash arrays.


Hewlett Packard is attempting to speed adoption of software defined storage by offering one terabyte licenses of VirtualStore Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) capacity to customers buying Intel's latest Xeon E5 server chips.

The deal means that the virtual SAN technology can be run at no cost on hardware from its rivals Dell, IBM, Cisco and Lenovo, as well as HP's own ProLiant Gen9 servers.

“Now we are making it possible for everyone in the world to try software defined storage on the next generation Intel processors,” said HP senior vice president and head of storage, David Scott, adding that a total of 72 petabytes of capacity will be made available this way.

The VSA platform, based on technology from HP’s LeftHand acquisition, allows users to access underutilised storage on x86 servers and locally attached hardware by creating shared storage pools.  

The company also unveiled upgrades that will allow automated deployment of VSA on ProLiant Gen9 servers with one click, using its Intelligent Provisioning technology.

The announcements follow updates to its VirtualStore VSA product unveiled last month, with hypervisor support extended to KVM and integration with HP’s OpenStack implementation, Helion.

Scott claimed that its VSA system has benefits compared to competing software defined offers such as VMware’s vSAN and Microsoft Storage Spaces by offering customers more flexibility.

“Customers are making the statement that software defined storage needs to have multi-hypervisor support in their architectures. This is the huge Achilles' heel of VMware and Microsoft,"said Scott, speaking a launch event in Budapest on Tuesday.

HP's efforts to spur software defined system adoption are made against a backdrop of slowing storage sales, particularly at the high end of the market. According to recent IDC stats, high-end systems revenues dropped 25 percent in the first quarter of 2014, with the overall market down 6.9 percent, despite the amount of capacity continuing to rise.

Scott said that software defined systems will play a significant role in the market going forward, alongside adoption of all-flash arrays more widely across the enterprise. This will be driven by businesses seeking different approaches to deal with new application workloads and tackle trends such as cloud and big data.

"We fundamentally believe that you need modern architectures that are focused and optimised to deliver IT as a service," said Scott.

"We talk about two types of architecture: an SLA optimised architecture we call service refined storage, and an emerging architecture, software defined storage, which is focused on cost optimisation. We believe that a systems designed approach that can leverage commodity costs are critical."

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