A shot across the bow
HP’s acquisition of Polyserve is a ~$250 million (my SWAG, we’ll have to see what, if anything, gets reported on the 10K) bet on the future of storage. And I think it is a good one.

HP needed to do something. Their external storage systems business has been flat while EMC has been taking share. They still have a strong number two position, but that is not the way to win Mark Hurd’s love.

Polyserver: commercial storage cluster
I haven’t devoted much time to Polyserve, but at a high level I like what they are doing. Polyserve takes the NAS storage cluster concept right into the heart of commercial applications. They support Oracle databases (learn more at Kevin Closson’s excellent blog), SQL Server and DB2. This is where the big iron storage boxes live, as well as their less-costly mid-range cousins.

A good overview of the buy and HP’s reasons is at Red Herring. Yet the importance of the acquisition goes well beyond HP.

Cluster storage land-grab
The real impact is on every other major storage player. As I’ve noted, storage clusters aren’t coming, they’re here. HP’s move just underscores that fact.

The wide-awake storage players are now putting out feelers to buy or partner with every decent storage cluster technology play. If you have a storage cluster startup and don’t get a phone call from someone in the next month, maybe your stuff isn’t all that cool. Or your genius isn’t appreciated by a clueless world.

EMC already has investments in a number of next-gen startups – such as my former company YottaYotta – which they’ll need to take to the next level by either licensing or acquiring. Since EMC’s storage business has been growing at a healthy clip, they may not feel the need to act fast, leaving it to competitors to claim the high ground.

IBM always has at least a dozen options on a low-boil, but deciding to pull the trigger on one and the plug on another just isn’t their thing. With their blade server leadership it would seem a natural direction, but they punted on storage arrays too.

Sun is well-positioned to use x4500’s with Google-style clustering to create low-cost, high data integrity storage clusters. If the Solaris group takes it on, it could be good. If they don’t, well, don’t hold your breath.

The StorageMojo take
Bravo to HP for buying Polyserve. If they roll out the products and support in a timely manner they will steal a march on everyone else in the industry. Their biggest problem will be selling Polyserve to their sales force, a skill HP has yet to master. Lower ASPs always give sales people the willies so it is vital that they feel like they are taken care of. Like Sun’s mis-marketed x4500 the Polyserve products could find themselves in a completely undeserved oblivion if HP’s storage group just tosses them over the wall to sales.

Comments welcome, as always. I’m traveling until Thursday so I may not moderate as fast as I normally do, but moderate I shall!