Stephen’s HP Product Line Decoder Ring

Do you want X-series or P-series storage? Is A-series networking gear any good? And where did all these HP products come from?

HP has always been an alphabet soup company, assigning just about every item in their bewildering array of products a unique product number. Like Mercedes-Benz cars, even the product names are a mix of letters and numbers that can be off-putting to browsers. Now that they have grown to supersize proportions through internal expansion and acquisition, just about everyone outside the company seems to have trouble decoding the product line, so I decided to take a stab at decoding the enterprise lineup in plain english.

An Important Note

This is not a political activity. I’m not trying to comment on which product is better than which or pigeonhole something by calling it “midrange” when HP thinks it’s “high-end”. I’m trying to be descriptive and helpful to prospective buyers working to understand the multitude of products sold by HP.

I welcome your input. In fact, I demand it! I don’t know which product is which and need your help to improve this list. Please feel free to comment and suggest corrections and additions (wireless?)

Storage Products (“StorageWorks”)

HP’s storage products are divided into three categories:

  • P-series is block (SAN) storage using Fibre Channel or iSCSI
  • X-series is file (NAS) storage
  • Disk backup will presumably get a letter series in the future
Category Product Line Source Type In English
StorageWorks P9500 Hitachi VSP OEM High-end enterprise SAN storage with mainframe support
StorageWorks XP2x000 Hitachi USP OEM Enterprise SAN storage (formerly called XP)
3PAR T-Class 3PAR InServ T-Class Acquisition Mid-high enterprise SAN storage
3PAR F-Class 3PAR InServ F-Class Acquisition Midrange SAN storage
StorageWorks EVA 4/6/8400 DEC/Compaq Acquisition Midrange SAN storage
StorageWorks P4000 LeftHand Acquisition Midrange iSCSI storage
StorageWorks P2000 Dot Hill OEM Mainstream SAN storage, formerly called MSA
StorageWorks X9000 Ibrix Acquisition Scale-out NAS
StorageWorks X5000 PolyServe Acquisition Scale-out NAS
StorageWorks 4400 PolyServe Acquisition Combination of PolyServe X5000 and EVA storage
StorageWorks X1000/X3000 Microsoft software OEM/HP Midrange NAS using Microsoft Windows Storage Server software and HP hardware (X3000 is a gateway with WSS Enterprise Edition, X1000 includes more HP software)
StorageWorks X300/X500 Microsoft software OEM/HP Entry-level NAS using ProLiant server hardware and Microsoft Windows Home Server software
C-series Cisco OEM Multi-protocol (FC/iSCSI/FCIP) switching
B-series Brocade OEM Fibre Channel switching
H-series Qlogic OEM Midrange Fibre Channel switching
StorageWorks 12000 VLS Sepaton OEM High-end enterprise virtual tape gateway with EVA storage
StorageWorks 9000 VLS Sepaton OEM Midrange enterprise virtual tape library
StorageWorks D2D4000 StoreOnce In-House Midrange deduplication disk backup
StorageWorks D2D2000 StoreOnce In-House Mainstream deduplication disk backup
StorageWorks RDX ProStor OEM Removable disk backup system
StorageWorks ESL Quantum OEM High-end tape library, with enhancements and drives from HP
StorageWorks EML Oracle (STK) OEM Midrange tape library, significantly enhanced by HP and with HP drives
StorageWorks MSL6000 Overland OEM Mid-size tape libraries
StorageWorks MSL2000/MSL8000 BDT OEM Small- to mid-size tape libraries, significant HP design input
StorageWorks Autoloader BDT OEM Small tape autoloaders

Storage Product Notes

HP engineering input into OEMed products ranges from minimal to substantial. The EML tape library, for example, is very different from the standard Oracle (STK) product on which it is based. The high-end Hitachi-based storage includes substantial HP input as well.

HP StorageWorks VP of Marketing Tom Joyce informed me that the 3PAR T- and F-Class boxes won’t be renamed at this point. This is probably a good move – capitalize on the value of the 3PAR name rather than the virtually-unknown “P-series” nomenclature.

Others tell me that the StorageWorks 4400 is hitting end-of-life in the now-ish timeframe. So it won’t get a new name either.

Networking Products

HP’s networking products are divided into three categories:

  • A-series is enterprise-class core switching, routing, and 200+ AP wireless
  • E-series is mid-market and SMB switching and smaller wireless
  • V-series is SMB and SoHo web-managed and unmanaged switching and wireless
Category Product Line Source Type In English
Switching A-series Modular H3C Acquisition High-end datacenter switching
A6000 blade switch ProCurve In-House Blade server switching
A-series Fixed H3C Acquisition Fixed-port switching
E-series (except below) ProCurve In-House SMB/midmarket networking
H3C Acquired Stackable and edge networking
V-series ProCurve In-House SOHO/SMB networking
Routing A-series H3C Acquisition High-end routing
ProCurve A7000 ProCurve In-House SMB routing
Wireless A-series H3C Acquisition High-end wireless
E-MSM Colubris Acquisition Midrange wireless

Networking Product Notes

HP’s 3Com acquisition focused primarily on the H3C (former Huawei/3Com joint venture) high-end switching and routing products. Although some 3Com gear remains in the E-series line (particularly stackable switches), the low-end fixed-port switches have seemingly been eliminated from the product line. The Colubris acquisition provided HP with scalable wireless products now slotted below the H3C gear.

Stephen’s Stance

Product lines are always confusing at large companies, and doubly so where acquisitions bring in legacy products and customers. I wish HP the best of luck sorting all this out!

Note: The photo at the top is of a Japanese clone of the Enigma Machine from World War II.

Image credit: Japanese WWII Enigma Machine by Radio Rover

  • Jeremy Arnold

    Hi Stephen, just some clarification on the Networking line. Hope you don’t mind the corrections. The idea is to have four families for three types of customer – Enterprise / MidMarket / SMB, with the S Family being the Security line.

    The A Series, built on a single OS called COMWARE and is Enterprise Class Switching / Routing / Wireless (ALL H3C – only the A6120 Blade Network Switch, and A7000dl Router comes from ProCurve)

    The E-Series is for the MidMarket / SMB Customer with Modular and Fixed port Switch’s / Wireless / VoIP (Predominantly ProCurve, but 3COM for VoIP and some switches, Colubris for the wireless)

    The V Series is for the SoHo / SMB customer Webmanaged / Unmanaged Switches / Wireless APs and Routers (both 3COM and ProCurve products)

    >> A Series Fixed (all H3C)
    >> A66/A8800 Routers (all H3C)
    >> A-MSR Routers (all H3C)
    >> A-Wireless (all H3C) +200 AP deployments
    >> E-MSM Wireless (all Colubris) upto 200 AP deployments

    Hope that helps..
    Jeremy Arnold – HP Networking

  • sfoskett

    Thank you for helping me figure out the HP networking landscape! Questions:
    1) Which E- and V-series products are which? Does it matter?
    2) The wireless product naming is all over the map – will this change?

    Please don’t hesitate to set me straight here!

  • B. Riley

    I really would like to understand how the 9500, which has a maximum of 4 controllers, can scale to the same level as the 3PAR with 8 controllers. I must be missing something.

  • Amazi

    MSL2048 – MSL8096 usually referred as MSL G3. And yes, this is BDT. AFAIR, they are designed on HP request and even sold exclusively by HP in first half of year (or more) after intro.
    NAS – X3000 positioned as gateway, not X1000. The main difference – X3000 come with the Windows StorServ Enterprise Edition with clustering support while X1000 – with Standard edition and HP-developed Automated Storage Manager for easer wizard-based management.
    StorageWorks 4400 – there is no such product. Correct – HP StorageWorks 4400 Scalable NAS File Services.
    X300/X500 – come with a Microsoft Windows Home Server

  • sfoskett

    Thanks for the updated information on the HP MSL and X-series NAS products! I’ve incorporated it into the table!

  • SnowCanada

    HP’s acquisition of 3COM/H3C also brought H3C storage products along but I don’t know where or even IF they have been adopted into the StorageWorks line-up. I know in North America they are marketed by FalconStor as their NSS-HC line and in APAC may appear directly under the H3C banner. Any word on where these will fall into line?

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