HP and Hitachi

By | November 30, 2009

If you ever want to get up the nose of an HP bod, a sure-fire way is to tell them that the XP is just an OEM’d HDS array. Such a slur insult comment is almost guaranteed to make the blood of any true-blue HP employee boil.  Once their pulse has slowed back down and the veins in their necks have returned to normal, you will likely get the a response that includes the following three remarks –

  1. HP has nothing whatsoever to do with HDS
  2. Very specific, over-emphasised and repeated mention of Hitachi Ltd, Japan
  3. Reference to the much vaunted and almost mythical “Engineering Agreement

Points 1 and 2 are fairly basic. It is true that HP does not resell or OEM from HDS (a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd).  At the time of writing, Sun has an agreement with HDS.  HP, on the other hand, have an agreement directly with the source, the mother company – Hitachi Ltd.  In fact it is not uncommon of HP folks to speak very slowly, clearly and occasionally loudly when they stress the JAPAN part πŸ˜‰

However, it has always been with point 3, the almost myth like “Engineering Agreement” that I have had issue with.

In my experience, the HP people spouting this line have never been able to provide any substance to the statement.  “So what does this engineering agreement entail” has always been met with either blank looks, or the  occasional stupid comment suggesting they cant tell me as is involves industry secrets. Kind of like, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

Demystifying the Engineering Agreement

Well finally some light has been shed on the topic.  James R. Wilson, XP Disk Array Product Manager has replied to a couple of my Questions over on the HP Storage Blog. In essence, James explains that while HP obviously doesn’t have full control over product development, they do have regular and active participation that enables them to be influential.  Specifically, James reveals the following –

“Our HP XP storage architects and lead engineers have regular detailed design planning, analysis and reviews with Hitachi engineers onsite in Japan. These meetings take approximately 3-5 days per meeting and are held on a regularly scheduled basis. We also have regularly scheduled management, engineering, and marketing planning and review meetings with respect to future technology with Hitachi. I just returned from one of these held in Japan just last week. These meetings alternate on a regular basis between Japan and our HP XP headquarters in Roseville, CA. These meeting typically take 3 days per event.

Hitachi has 6-8 engineers on site in Calilfornia to work with HP's engineering teams on a continual basis. HP engineers travel to Japan on a regular basis to work with counterparts there. HP and Hitachi also have weekly and daily conference calls as needed to manage the engineering work as required. HP and Hitachi also cooperate on operating system connectivity testing, sharing the work load between teams. Collectively, the engineering partnership between Hitachi Japan and HP serves very well to provide HP sufficient opportunities to impact the development of the XP family to meet the needs of our customers in a most satisfactory way”

While still not a great insight, interesting nonetheless, and thanks to James and Calvin Zito for answering my questions.

In fact, ianhf has posted additional questions that might get answered now that the Thanksgiving break is over.  I also recommend Calvins blog in general, as it is slowly becoming a half-decent place of HP storage info and insights – although it is quite generic covering the many aspects of the HP StorageWorks portfolio.

Ive since written a similar post on HDS and Hitachi, Ltd.


You can follow me on Twitter where I talk about storage and Data Center technologies (@nigelpoulton)

I am also available for hire as a free-lance consultant.

23 thoughts on “HP and Hitachi

  1. JRW

    Hitachi (Japan) sell their SANRise array and the XP, but no the USP-V. Draw your own conclusion as to which of HP & HDS adds the most to Hitachi (Japan)’s R&D.

  2. Dave Vellante

    Hi Nigel…I've had similar experiences with HP. So how would you suggest we refer to the XP going forward πŸ™‚

    Nice site btw…

  3. Tim

    Steven – it’s the same in The Netherlands. Nigel and I have seen the assembly line next door to the HDS Euro Training centre. HDS USPV, XP24000 and whatever Sun are calling their version this week are built by the same guys using the same parts in the same room. Then they add the doors πŸ˜‰

    Nigel – congrats on the new site. Nicely done.

  4. JRW

    It isn’t hard to get an HP person jumping up and down over this, but they have sold as many of these arrays as HDS, and Hitachi (Japan) sell SANRise and XP, but not the USP-V.

    To answer Dave I suggest we stick with XP, which is better than its original name, which almost spelt something very dirty, and we view it as one of four flavours of probably the best storage array in the world. (PM Friday, you can see where my mind is wandering to…)

  5. Nigel Poulton Post author

    Hi Tim, Dave,

    Thanks for popping by and the kind comments.

    Hi JRW,

    What was the original name of the XP that almost spelled something dirty? I understood they were going to call the original XP256 the HP SureStore E MC256 –

    HP SureStore Enterprise Mission Critical 256

    Obviously the lawyers over in Hopkinton would take issue with that -> HP SureStore EMC256 πŸ˜‰

    As for HP selling as many or more XPs than combined Hitachi (in Japan) and HDS. I am often surprised that people buy from HDS rather than HP, especially people who already spend millions with HP on servers will choose to have an additional supplier and buy storage from HDS rather than HP. Strange…..

    Also, can you clarify your comment re Hitachi selling the SANRise AND the XP. Are you saying that Hitachi directly sell the XP in Japan?


  6. JRW

    Hi Nigel,
    The "dirty" is just  little dig at the company that might have been upset by the E MC256 name. You'd think people would spot this, and there are worse examples, but this is the best I know in the IT sphere, except perhaps what Wang were going to call there service program (two words, 2nd word Care).
    Who sells which flavour and how many is a little grey. Sun don't sell XP. Hitachi (Japan) don't sell USP-V or STK. HDS has sold some XP, but I don't know if HP has ever sold a USP/99xx/7700. HP would seem to have sold about the same number of arrays as HDS. While Hitachi (Japan) does sell XPs direct to Japanese customers the majority of their sales are likely to be of their SANRise flavour. HDS and Hitachi (Japan) combined sell more arrays than HP (taking all the XPs out of Hitachi (Japan)'s numbers).
    HDS has some very happy long standing customers and it would surprise me if many of these changed storage vendor any time soon, but I have seen HP winning new XP customers in the UK over the last 18 months. In the UK at least they seem to be having more success against EMC/IBM than HDS are. I think the current market is driving customers to reduce the number of vendors they buy from, making it harder for the various storage pure plays.
    Cheers, JRW
    PS I too like the new site and particularly the Xsigo piece.

  7. Nigel Poulton Post author

    Hi John,

    Glad you like the new site, and thanks for your input on the Hitachi, HDS, HP stuff. I used to be very much of the opinion that storage, especially the XP was the poor relation in the HP ESS business, so its good to hear what you say about HP gaining ground over competitors in the UK. It also shows the value of the HP agreement to Hitachi.

    Id love to know more about how influential HP really are with the XP development. I appreciate what HP have said via their corporate blog, its shed some light on it for me, but leaves mush to the imagination.

    Im expecting some earth shuddering moves from EMC relative to V-Max as I see V-Max positioned extremely interestingly from an architectural point of view. Game changing stuff on the cards.

    Not sure I seethe same from Hitachi…. but then you never know with Hitachi as they play their cards right up against their chest.

    Interesting times.


    PS. If you liked the Xsigo piece then stay tuned as I have similar pieces planned for other similary vendors as well as diving more into the theory etc of IOV.

  8. Steven Ruby

    Nigel, Like the new blog space.

    I just don’t buy it that HP is somehow so much more influential on the Hitachi Enterprise storage line that Hitachi Ltd itself, but hey what do I know.

  9. IvanE

    >Hitachi (Japan) sell their SANRise array and the XP, but no the USP-V.
    That's an interesting opinion. Especially considering that the only difference between mentioned arrays is marketing name.

  10. Nigel Poulton Post author

    Thats an interesting point you make Ivan. Another way of putting it would be the only difference is the front doors πŸ˜‰

    Somebody just said to me that one example of the incluence that HP has on XP development is by not allowing replication between an XP and a USP! Not sure if its true but made me laugh πŸ˜€


  11. IvanE

    > I see V-Max positioned extremely interestingly from an architectural point of view.
    [starting the flame]
    8 x CX4-960 connected via 2 x 16-port switches… Nothing new, way to cut internal costs and raise margin, nothing else πŸ˜‰
    The only interesting thing left in Symm is software.
    PS: And yes, I'm highly biased

  12. JRW

    Lots of great points πŸ™‚
    I wrote a nice reply that then lost it all through user error – Doh!
    Product differences. XP Tools are CLI utilities that you only get with the XP. Performance Advisor and Tuning Manager are different (but quite similar). HP have superior cluster integration. There is a performance pack for XP on Storage Essentials, not sure if there is for HSSM/USP. The rest is about service (unless you colour co-ordinate your DC). Both arrays are great and customers should go with the supplier that suits them.
    HDS does not equal Hitachi Ltd and my case is only that HP have at least as much influence as HDS on the product direction, not that they effectively control RSD.
    As for not replicating to each other both HDS and HP wanted this from the beginning as they didn't want the other side just trying to steal their customers … and I've heard both sides blame the other … sales people …
    V-Max. Looks like a big mesh, with massive over-subscription between nodes, possibly OK if you get the data placement right (and it doesn't need to change). Still metadata in general cache (yuk!). While it would be wrong to underestimate EMC they are making a lot of promises for what V-Max will one day do, but they did that for Invista too.
    Sorry the post is a bit short/snappy – 1st version was really well written πŸ™‚

  13. IvanE

    >XP Tools are CLI utilities that you only get with the XP
    Oh? Rebranded SNM and SNM CLI you mean?

    >HP have superior cluster integration
    Oh, c’mon! You mean Metrocluster? The one that worked perfectly fine with USP after changing single line in script until HP compiled it into binary? And BTW, this didn’t leave HDS without solution – Hitachi Storage Cluster is available for most OSes out there. The only difference is support for NonStop line (cough, cough, how many of them are still used?).
    >As for not replicating to each other both HDS and HP wanted this from the beginning
    Well, I heard slightly different but it’s impossible to get definite answer here.

    >Both arrays are great and customers should go with the supplier that suits them.
    Totaly agree here πŸ™‚

    >Still metadata in general cache
    It’s not anymore. It same physical memory but the area is dedicated for metadata, can’t be mixed with data cache. 80 gigs in fully configured V-max

  14. JRW

    Hi IvanE,
    Most of the CLIs are the same, just with different names, making skills quite portable, but to the best of my knowledge XPWatch hasn't got non-HP versions – it would be interesting to hear if this has changed. Hitachi Storage Cluster/SplitSecond are professional service engagments. While HP's Cluster Extensions is a product that continues to be refined it is ahead of HSC. MetroCluster support is different matter from CLX, it would work very well on USP-V if HP wanted to support it, but that's for people to ask HP. Certainly Non-Stop is a fairly stable market πŸ˜‰ (I'm told it still runs most the cash points etc..)
    Costs are a bit like cross vendor replication.  I've heard both say they have a cost advantage, and a cost disadvantage, depending who is speaking. I suspect neither has the edge here, and as on replication a definitive answer is elusive.
    Interesting what you say on V-Max. My take is that it is still using the cache bus that general I/Os are using, so the more clever things you try to do with metadata the less bandwidth is available for data.
    Cheers – JRW

  15. IvanE

    >Hitachi Storage Cluster/SplitSecond are professional service engagments. While HP’s Cluster Extensions is a product that continues to be refined it is ahead of HSC

    I’ve never seen HP Cluster Extensions sold without implementation service, thus don’t see much difference.

    Anyway, this doesn’t change the overall idea – XP and USP V are the same, the difference is in the vendor and added value you expect from him. And obviously anyone in this business can bring dozens of examples where one vendor’s value was higher than others and vice versa.

    >My take is that it is still using the cache bus that general I/Os are using


  16. Steven Ruby

    USP to XP replication is all a sales thing. It’s the same issue with USP to 9990 replication. The only diff is HP will still be in business next year, I cant say the same for Sun.

  17. IvanE

    >It’s the same issue with USP to 9990

    USP to 9990 replication works like charm, no limitations.

  18. Calvin Zito

    The story behind the original XP256 name is interesting.  At the time, HP was using SureStore as a entry level storage brand and we decided to use SureStore E as our enterprise storage brand.  The original name of the XP was the HP SureStore E Disk Array MC256, not SureStore E MC256.  But in some of the first articles when we announced it, they botched the name and you can imaging that a few people in Hopkinton didn't like that.
    http://twitter.com/HPstorageGuy and http://www.hp.com/storage/blog

  19. Steven Ruby

    >It’s the same issue with USP to 9990
    >USP to 9990 replication works like charm, no limitations.
    Yes it does.

  20. James R Wilson

    Just to be clear, I am James R. Wilson, the HP XP product manager quoted above. I am not the JRW who has made the other informative and informed comments. That is someone else. When I comment here, I will use my full name and position at HP.
    Just a couple of points, while I am here. NonStop is still a very significant business for HP. NonStop does indeed manage a huge share of the ATM market, or cash points, as they are called in some countries. XP support for NonStop is unique to XP.
    MetroCluster support is one reason why Hitachi does sell the XP version of the array in Japan. Hitachi is a very significant reseller of HP equipment in Japan. Using the XP version lets them sell a complete HP integrated disaster recovery solution as an official HP reseller.
    Thanks for the interest in XP Disk Arrays.
    James R. Wilson, XP Product Manager

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