HP's StorageWorks CTO on layoffs, AppIQ acquisition

HP's StorageWorks CTO on layoffs, AppIQ acquisition

Michael Feinberg, chief technology officer at Hewlett-Packard Co.'s StorageWorks division, spoke with Computerworld at the Storage Decisions conference here this week about planned layoffs at HP (See story), the replacement earlier this year of CEO Carly Fiorina with Mark Hurd and about how that has affected his division. Feinberg also talked about the recent acquisition of storage resource management vendor AppIQ (See story).

How has the StorageWorks division been affected by the layoffs and change of CEO?

Storage is top of mind at HP. The interesting question roaming around last year was, "Is HP committed to storage, who are they, and what do they want to be when they grow up?" Mark Hurd came in and reconfirmed our commitment to storage. We announced a tremendous number of products last May in Las Vegas. The momentum of those products and our commitment to storage really rang true to our sales force and, more importantly, our customers.

Mark Hurd's committed to storage. We're committed to storage. And, of course, when you're committed to storage, you start making investments in acquisitions. The investment in the acquisition of AppIQ is a further demonstration that we ... believe in the strategic value of storage.

Have the layoffs and change of command hurt morale?

I think when you have downturns in business and they're reflected in the price of shares and that's reported in the press, that really impacts morale. We're seeing the success of our products in the marketplace, and we're seeing our stock go up. I think the morale is actually positive. There's nothing like a stock price going up.

How would you compare Mark's style of leadership in comparison to Carly's? I don't want to comment on that. I would just say, in all fairness to all people, that the focus on storage has always been there, and I think Mark has re-engaged and reinvigorated that focus.

AppIQ has been considered the Switzerland of storage resource management because it works with multivendor storage. How do you overcome the perception that now that it's owned by you, it won't be seen as proprietary?

Look at the base technology. It's all about heterogeneity. Even if we wanted to say it's all about HP-UX and our XP servers, let's be practical. That's not the design point or the goal of the product. Heterogeneous management is critical to our customers. As much as we'd love to be the only technology in any environment, it's a heterogenous world out there and we're going to support it. So it's to our benefit to have a heterogeneous offering.

AppIQ was already proposing to make its form of the Storage Management Interface Specification the standard for the industry. Is that something you're going to continue to push?

AppIQ is still an external company, so I can't comment on how AppIQ wants to do it. We're very committed to standards. But the fact of the matter is that we're part of a community, and we're going to be active members of that community and work with it in the right way.

We're very collaborative on standards, and we're going to continue that process.

IBM, Microsoft and Symantec have all come out with continuous data-protection products. What's your plan?

Tape is really good for its fast sequential write access. You can write to tape faster than you can to disk. What we also said in the same breath is if you can manipulate the data and massage it in ways, you can do data protection in different ways. We've talked about the need for virtual tape technologies, which really take advantage of a random access device to actually allow the customer to dedicate virtual devices to their backup environment. The point is they can change how they do the backup process and make the recovery process better.

We're taking that next step with continuous data protection products with [HP's Data Protection Storage Servers]. DPSS is really an integrated solution designed and worked [out] in partnership with Microsoft to be the ideal solution for the midmarket. It's hard to believe that anybody can design a substantially better product for the Microsoft set than Microsoft.

We believe partnering with Microsoft gives us an opportunity to drive and develop solutions that really address how the Microsoft customer wants to work in their framework. This technology takes advantage of this new trend of point-in-time imaging.

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