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HP adds to its storage and channel line up

Company releases two new SAN arrays and a new channel program to help out SMB resellers

Las Vegas – Day one of HP’s Americas Partner Conference, held here, was all about storage as the Palo Alto, Calif.-based IT vendor released two SAN product lines and a new channel program.

Both the MSA and EVA SAN products will focus on the small-to-medium-sized business market. HP (NYSE: HPQ) says the units are considered entry-level and will have a price point of $10,000 or less, with the capability of handling up to 36TB.

The new EVA 4400 line of mid-range SAN arrays are intended to fill a gap in product line for HP.

One of the key attributes of the EVA 4400 product is that it is customer installable. Greg Chappell, vice-president, enterprise storage and servers for HP Canada, expects partners to use the EVA 4400 as a leverage point to selling blades and other storage solutions.

The release of these new products at this time is intended to help HP gain a foot-hold against EMC and to take advantage of the potential confusion created by Dell’s Dell’s acquisition of EqualLogic.

”It’s an interesting development with Dell (NASDAQ: Dell) and its EMC (NYSE: EMC) partnership,” said Chappell. “It seems to me to have created some confusion from a storage perspective. Equallogic was a small vendor in the market and from a presence perspective they did not show up in the market at this point.”

Chappell added HP Canada’s position is that they know Dell/Equallogic is out there and Dell is putting a big focus on it, but HP and its partner base haven’t yet run into them in a competitive business situation.

With the release of EVA 4400, HP has introduced the Enterprise Select Channel Partner Program. This program enables resellers to sell a subset of the enterprise storage products without having all of the enterprise storage certifications necessary. They will still need a certain level of certification, but for the first time SMB resellers don’t have to obtain enterprise storage certifications.

The fact the solution is customer installable was a key factor in making this major concession in certifications for partners, says the vendor.

“The EVA 4400 will come down in price, but will have the same capabilities of a higher machine. This will support their needs today and if they have to grow into larger storage solutions over time,” Chappell said.

HP Canada will also embark on a partner recruitment drive with the objective of having more partners attach more HP storage solutions. In the coming months, HP will be rolling out seminars to the channel and will lean heavily on its distribution partners to provide more information on this program.

“We have gaps in coverage and the second reason is if you profile resellers, some of them are falling below the 50 per cent of storage attached levels,” he said.

Chappell believes the EVA line and the new program will present market opportunity for VARs that will be better than Dell.

Those market opportunities will be in major centres and in small Ontario cities such as Kingston, Belleville, Thunder Bay, Sault Saint Marie along with outlying Quebec cities.

”Customers tend to buy from local resellers and the reason I say this is that the All-in-one storage product, which is an entry-level product, we targeted small cities across the country and it fit nicely into the S part of the SMB,” Chappell said.

Margins will come from upfront discounts and through back end rebates.

Chappell said the majority of partners will be selling on-premise storage solutions. While the utility model has been getting some traction in Canada, however, it was solely for archival purposes and not for processing transactions, he said.