StoreEasy and StoreVirtual Storage Systems: Enterprise Features at SMB Price Points

Fitting “enterprise” storage systems into small and midsized businesses (SMBs) requires they deliver all of the features without the up-front capital or ongoing management costs. To date, that has rarely been the case with SMBs either needing to make trade-offs in cost or ease of use to get the storage system they need. That changed earlier this month with HP’s introduction of its HP StoreEasy and StoreVirtual that bring into SMBs the storage system efficiency, security, reliability and availability once previously only reserved for enterprise storage products.
Enterprises get a lot of attention from storage system vendors, who develop strategies to win market share and grow their footprint within those enterprises.  For better or for worse, SMBs get a lot less attention from the big players in the enterprise storage space.  Nevertheless, like enterprises, SMBs need to secure their data and provide for continuity of business operations in order to comply with various regulations and pass their annual audits.
In response to these needs HP recently announced its StoreEasy and StoreVirtual storage products intended for the SMB/SME marketplace.  StoreEasy targets the all-Microsoft infrastructure that is common among these size companies.  StoreVirtual also fits the needs of these size companies but offers multi-hypervisor support and newly announced fiber-channel support that address the higher performance requirements that some SMBs and SMEs possess.
HP StoreEasy appliances are built on Windows Storage Server 2012 software and HP ProLiant Generation 8 servers and replace the Windows Server 2008-based HP X1000/3000/5000 series Network Storage Systems, and bring Windows Server 2012’s block-optimized deduplication, encryption of data at rest and in flight, plus replication and transparent failover to systems with a list price as low as $5,192 for 8TBs raw capacity.  
A capability that is specific to the branch office scenario is the HP Hosted BranchCache feature which caches frequently accessed files on the branch StoreEasy server, improves performance at branch offices and reduces the demand for WAN bandwidth.
The other half of the HP announcement was around HP StoreVirtual, which is HP’s name for the 3rd generation LeftHand technology.  StoreVirtual is available as either a virtual storage appliance (VSA) where the customer provides the hardware, or as a complete pre-configured storage appliance built using HP ProLiant Generation 8 servers.  The StoreVirtual appliances will ship with the new LeftHand Operating System (formerly SAN/iQ) version 10.0.  
According to the HP blog announcing the StoreVirtual products, the Lefthand OS engineering team focused on performance improvements. The result is a 50% increase in performance on LeftHand 2nd generation technology, and double to triple the performance on the new 3rd generation StoreVirtual appliances.  
Something that will matter to businesses needing to increase the capacity as well as the performance of their storage systems, the 3rd generation StoreVirtual appliances provide up to 7.2 TB of raw storage in a 1U HP StoreVirtual 4330 appliance.  This is 4x the capacity per rack unit compared to the 2nd generation hardware.  
The other enhancement announced by HP is support for fibre channel (FC) in addition to iSCSI.  Fibre channel support extends the reach of the StoreVirtual platform further up into the mid-tier storage array space giving an entirely new set of applications and organizations access to the benefits that the StoreVirtual platform offers.  Three scenarios where FC support is pertinent include:
  • A single storage cluster that may connect to both FC and iSCSI hosts
  • A future migration from FC to iSCSI (or vice versa)
  • A single storage system that may be deployed across any locations using iSCSI or FC 
StoreEasy and StoreVirtual are just the first fruits of HP’s converged storage strategy that simplifies storage architectures and consolidates features across platforms.  With HP Discover coming up in early December, there are bound to be additional announcements about new products.  As a matter of fact, I just checked the HP storage micro-site and it is trumpeting the headline, “Be a part of the action on December 3rd for the biggest HP Storage announcement ever.
While these announcements are likely to focus on the other parts of the HP Converged Storage portfolio, the HP StoreEasy and StoreVirtual products immediately address today’s SMBs requirements. They provide the more highly available, efficient and secure storage solutions that SMBs need, the enterprise features they want and all at a price point that puts these systems within their reach.

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