HP’s Small Business Push for Storage, Networking

CUPERTINO, Calif. — As the economy begins to ride out and recover
from the recession, computer giant Hewlett-Packard sees that small
businesses, particularly in the U.S., are ready to cautiously resume
spending on IT.

At a media event here, HP (NYSE: HPQ) officials briefly detailed a
few new product offerings, but spent the bulk of their time talking
about the company’s expanded efforts to win more of the
multi-billion-dollar small business market.

HP also hinted at an upcoming cloud computing announcement aimed at
small business, but gave few details. “Looking to the future, we’re
seeing strong growth and opportunity for a Web-empowered ecosystem that
will connect your computers, printers, your iPhone, whatever, to retail
partners,” Todd Birzer, a marketing manager with HP’s printing and
enterprise solution group, said. “This will be an HP cloud, but I’m not
going into details today.”

On the product side, HP made several announcements it said should
appeal to budget-minded IT buyers in the SMB space. The company said it
has partnered with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to provide unified
communications products designed to bring more collaboration and
communications options to SMBs including Microsoft’s SharePoint server.

“There’s a driving, pent-up demand for IT infrastructure among small
businesses in the U.S.,” said Chad Thompson, analyst with AMI Partners, who spoke at the

Using HP’s financing arm, an SMB could acquire a network of
computers, servers and software for as little as $2,500 a month,
according to Duncan Campbell, vice president of worldwide marketing for
converged infrastructure and enterprise storage at HP.

“The other thing is that we can break this whole UCC (Unified
Communications and Collaboration) down into bite-sized chunks that make
it easier for SMBs to execute on, just getting what they need,” said

Product announcements included the HP V1410 Switch Series, an
extension of the HP’s ProCurve 1400 family with simplified management
and what HP said is lower cost plug-and-play connections. The V1410 is
available pre-configured with eight-, 16- and 24-port options and a
choice of wall or rackmount options. The V-series also includes a
lifetime warranty and a next-business-day replacement policy.

HP has broadened its range of networking products deeper in the SMB
space following its purchase of 3Com.

On the storage side, HP unveiled the StorageWorks X310 Data Vault
that it said is designed for SMBs with limited IT staff. The system’s
interface is based on Microsoft’s Windows Home Server OS to simplify
installation and management.

Data Vault offers internal expansion up to 7 terabytes and up to 15
TB when connecting to external drives using the eSATA and four USB ports
on the system. HP said clients can share local and remote files through
a custom URL that is accessible from any Web browser. The system also
offers daily automated backup for up to ten PC or Mac clients.

Green power

HP didn’t have any specific printer product news but claims it’s
doing more to help SMB’s understand and even market their green

HP’s Sustainability Reporting Tool uses a series of industry
guidelines to help SMBs track and report on gains they’ve made in saving
energy and walks them through the process of both reporting and creating
a presentation of the results.

“Companies can report these findings to investors, customers and
employees,” said Birzer. “It’s the kind of thing consultants do for
large companies that small businesses haven’t been able to do.”

Birzer said that in some ways the downturn has been good for HP’s
printing business for SMBs because more of them decided to print
in-house versus going to copy shops and other outside production

“You can realize significant cost-savings on small print runs doing
them in-house,” he said. “And our research shows you can be more
effective with marketing materials you print in-house because you can,
for example, customize brochures for each tradeshow, rather than
printing once in bulk.”

HP has a Web site
that includes more details on its SMB product announcements.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news
service of Internet.com, the
network for technology professionals.