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HP Dumps High-End Archiving System
RISS Faces Hard Road vis-a-vis Centera

Hewlett-Packard quietly dropped the high-end version of its StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System (RISS) archiving widgetry seven months after it launched.

HP's marketing director for ILM products and solutions Gary Lyng said Thursday that the 4TB version of the Linux-based appliance was discontinued in December.

Brought out last May, the thing was the first RISS appliance and was priced at $475,000. In September at the Americas StorageWorks Conference HP followed up with a smaller 1TB version priced at $100,000.

Lyng suggested the price of the high-end model made it hard to sell.

"Customers want predictability in pricing," he said. "Having multiple SKUs and multiple prices makes it difficult for the customer," an odd argument considering HP had only two RISS products.

Lyng also argued that in archiving people generally want to start off small, which of course doesn't explain why HP introduced the high-end product first.

In any case, Lyng maintained it was not unusual to terminate a top-of-the line product so soon after its launch.

Having dropped the 4TB RISS appliance, HP has now bumped the capacity of the 1TB product to 1.7TB.

According to Lyng, customers looking beyond 1.7TB have to buy capacity upgrades.

Meanwhile, HP launched an RISS v1.1 upgrade on Tuesday adding higher smart-cell capacity and an enhanced archiving feature.

It says it's increased the capacity of smart cells from 400GB to 850GB and claims to have cut the base price nearly in half from the previous version.

Smart cells, which form the basis of HP's storage grid architecture, are computing nodes that include a high-density computing device and onboard storage. They include a dedicated processor, a search engine, a database, an index and a management layer.

RISS is built on dividing storage, indexing, search and retrieval tasks across the smart cells.

RISS 1.1 also reportedly accelerates data retrieval by evenly distributing full-text indices and original content across many storage smart cells.

RISS is focused on actively archiving e-mail and Microsoft Office documents. Future releases are supposed to expand support to all forms of reference information and file types.

However, HP faces a tough road ahead in the face of strong competition, primarily from EMC's Centera content-addressed storage system, which debuted about three years ago.

EMC claims it's sold Centera to over 1,200 customers so far and to have shipped in excess of 30 petabytes. "It is safe to say that EMC is very pleased with how Centera is doing," an EMC spokesman crowed. Centera is supposedly the fastest-growing platform in EMC's history although Merrill Lynch described it a year ago as a "bit of a sleeper."

Lyng acknowledged that Centera was HP's primary direct competitor but argued that the RISS appliance had superior features compared to Centera. He claimed Centera lacked integrated search and storage management software and that Centera customers had to deal with multiple suppliers for different features leading to compatibility and scalability issues.

"We integrate search and retrieval within the appliance," Lyng said, adding that EMC is "selling another tier of storage."

While Lyng attacked Centera for not being a complete solution like RISS, EMC claimed to work with partners to sell Centera as a complete solution with hardware and application software.

EMC also disputed the charge that Centera was compatibility-challenged. "Were that a true statement, EMC would not have the number of customers or capacity shipped that it enjoys," it sniffed. EMC said there were multiple ways to search Centera including with a new Centera Seek feature.

According to Lyng, RISS has had a "very encouraging" market response with 40 customers and 1.5 petabytes of storage shipped in the 10 months since its launch.

In contrast EMC claimed it added 250 new Centera customers in Q4 alone, and that Centera sales were up 48% year-over-year. In EMC, as recent IDC numbers suggest, HP has to contend with a resurgent rival that's gaining share in the overall disk storage market while it's losing share.

RISS customers include the Nasdaq, iSource, Inland Real Estate and Louisville Gas and Energy.

HP also enhanced its Reference Information Manager (RIM) e-mail archiving software by adding Lotus Domino support. The program, designed to address compliance requirements as well, only supported Exchange before.

IT administrators use RIM to set policies for moving messages out of user mailboxes and into RISS. Policies can be based on message, age, size, sender, recipient or keyword and means their mailbox size doesn't have to be limited. HP said RIM for messaging is priced at $30 a client.

Over the next 12 months, HP intends to introduce new RIM functionality in other application areas that connect to RISS like databases, CRM programs and medical imaging.

HP said it was also rolling out pre-configured RISS and RIM installation services.

HP put out a new product called File System Extender (FSE) to automate data movement based on its OmniStorage product for HP-UX. FSE currently supports Windows and Linux. HP-UX support is planned at an unspecified date.

As part of its ILM strategy, HP is now offering a RISS API that integrates storage, archiving, filing, search, databases and servers. HP plans to expand its functionality to include web services, CIFS and NFS and additional connectors for verticals such as healthcare. HP said 13 ISVs were porting applications to the API.

ISVs are also getting a new RISS SDK to integrate and store application data on the RISS appliance. The kit is supposed to support basic storage interfaces and emerging ILM standards.

About Raga Rao
Raga Rao is Associate Editor of Maureen O'Gara's LinuxGram.

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