HP Gets Green with New Hardware

In another example that top-tier IT vendors are trying to tie green policies into hardware offerings, Hewlett-Packard has launched several eco-friendly storage products aimed at enterprise and midmarket businesses.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company on June 19 rolled out new disk arrays with features designed to reduce power and cooling costs in data centers by as much as 50 percent. At the same time, HP bolstered its tape portfolio, a move officials said illustrates that, despite years of dire predictions, tape is not being phased out of the storage industry.

The products, announced at the HP Americas StorageWorks Conference in Las Vegas, come at a time when enterprises are continuing to push technology vendors to find ways to help them make their data centers more energy-efficient.

“The importance of energy efficiency is growing in everyone’s minds,” said Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for HP’s StorageWorks business. “It’s no longer trivial. It’s actually a big deal.”

The new products—the latest additions to the company’s adaptive infrastructure data center initiative—include thin provisioning and performance enhancements for the HP StorageWorks EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) family; new tape drives based on the LTO (Linear Tape Open) 4 standard; new DAT (digital audiotape) 160 tape drives for small and midsize businesses; and the first HP StorageWorks tape product developed exclusively for HP BladeSystem c-Class enclosures.

Read more here about HP’s plan for making their data centers greener.

Thin provisioning enables IT administrators to use storage resource management and virtualization to put limits on the allocation of physical storage to meet what applications immediately need. The result is improved capacity on demand up to preset limits so that enterprises can reduce the need to buy and manage excess disk storage.

According to analyst company StorageIO Group, storage currently accounts for up to 40 percent of overall data center energy usage from hardware. Using HP’s new storage products, a customer with a monthly storage electric bill of $3,000 could save as much as $18,000 per year in power and cooling costs, the company said.

That type of calculation will become a larger issue for IT departments as they take on more and more budget concerns, Eitenbichler said. He said HP has found that in cases it has looked at, energy costs come out of the IT budget only 20 percent of the time. It’s usually the facilities group that pays those bills.

According to HP, its StorageWorks EVA4100, 6100 and 8100 midrange disk arrays can improve power efficiency by up to 45 percent and performance by as much as 24 percent over previous EVAs. Using hardware and software technologies such as EVA DCM (Dynamic Capacity Management), VSnap and FATA (Fibre ATA) disk drives, the new EVAs help IT managers optimize hard drive utilization, HP said.

Eitenbichler said DCM is similar to thin provisioning, but gives users the flexibility to not only increase capacity, as thin provisioning does, but also decrease it as needed. DCM will initially be offered for Windows environments, but support for Linux and HP-UX implementations will come in the near future, he said.

“We did a study in 2006 that found that 55 percent of end-users we surveyed left between 30 and 50 percent of their storage capacity stranded,” said Tony Asaro, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group.

Tape will continue to be a key technology in the storage industry, despite years of claims that it was fading away, and energy efficiency is one reason, Eitenbichler said. Enterprises will need to continue to store large amounts of data for long periods of time. It makes more fiscal and environmental sense to store older data on tapes rather than on spinning disks that are eating up power, he said.

Asaro said HP’s storage announcements prove that tape-based storage products will continue to provide the majority of backup needs for companies that have to maintain thousands of records. Since HP’s EVA4100, 6100 and 8100 all use tape, these systems can reduce power and cooling costs in a way that hard drives with moving parts can’t, he said.

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