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Ready Or Not, HP Intros Home Servers

The home server market might be so small now that the word nascent is too aggrandizing, but Hewlett-Packard sees a future here and this fall will roll out the Media-Smart server line so it is well positioned when the category comes to life.

The driving force behind HP’s decision to start now is the amount of storage home’s are going to need in the near future. Kathy Miner, HP’s MediaSmart product manager, cited data from Coughlin Associates that stated each American home will have 5TB of storage capacity by 2010. From that year forward the amount of storage capacity needed will hockey-stick upward to 100TB in just a few years. Since most of the content being stored will be HD video, music and images, a server will be needed to make it available through a home, she said.

The line will start shipping this fall, pricing has not been set.

Miner realizes it will take some time before the idea of a home server grabs the public’s attention. Particularly since the simpler, yet similar, network attached storage drives have barely made an impact at retail.

“Adoption will take awhile. It’s not easy to explain that this is a step up from network attached storage,” she said.

The company will target the home digital entertainment enthusiast, many of whom have already cobbled together a system on their own, who want to stream video around the home, along with small businesses, which will likely use the server in its more traditional storage roll.

HP’s two initial models will each have four hard drive bays with the 500GB model coming with a single-500GB drive pre-installed, leaving three empty drives; while the 1TB model will have two 500GB drives. The server’s total capacity is 6TB when all the bays are filled with 750GB drives and four external 750GB hard drives are connected via the four USB 2.0 ports.

The server is run by AMD 1.8 GHZ 64-bit Sempron processor and it comes with gigabit Ethernet networking. The server can be shared by up to 10 users and it is bundled with Windows Media Connect to stream video and music to the networked computers or TV.

The servers will automatically back up all the PCs residing on the network, allow remote access to your home PC, use HP Photo WebShare to so friends and relatives can access the server to view photos.

This remote sharing capability is another reason Miner believes the category will take off.

“It’s much easier to send out a secure URL and have the person view the images on the server then to send them in emails,” she said, adding the supplied HP WebShare software will make sharing photos simply by self-generating emails with the proper web address already included.