In what can only be considered hugely disappointing and quite possibly a significant blow to the future of Windows Home Server, Hewlett Packard has informed me that they have discontinued the MediaSmart Server and will not be releasing any more models either on the current version of Windows Home Server or the upcoming Vail platform. If you’ve recently purchased or will be purchasing one of the remaining units available, the warranty and support will continue for all products through their defined periods.
In typical HP fashion I was given very few details or reasons for the cancellation of the MediaSmart Server. Allen Buckner, Marketing Manager for the former Home Server Group, gave me the news in a phone conference earlier this month, saying only that HP was “shifting additional resources to focus on webOS initiatives”. He told me that the team had already been reassigned, and that there were no further software updates planned for the platform.
After speaking with Allen, I followed up with the HP StorageWorks team to ask about the future of the Data Vault, and got an actual statement from them that provided a little more insight.
With the recent acquisition of Palm, HP’s Personal Systems Group is transferring the MediaSmart Server team to the Palm Global Business Unit to help with future development of the webOS. The MediaSmart hardware is used as a basis for the current HP StorageWorks X300 and X500 Data Vault models and is therefore also affected by this change. HP will continue to support current models with a three-year limited warranty on hardware, a three-year technical support warranty on software for the X500 and a one-year limited warranty for the X300 Data Vault.
HP understands that small business clients rely on HP StorageWorks for solutions that help store, manage and protect data in a simple, cost effective manner. HP StorageWorks will continue to develop products for the HP “Just Right IT” portfolio of offerings designed to make it easy for micro and small businesses to get exactly the IT capabilities they need at the right time, at just the right price.
This news does not bode well for the already questionable future of Windows Home Server Vail in the wake of the recent announcement that Drive Extender is being removed from Windows Home Server. From the very beginning, HP has been the premier partner with Microsoft in developing Windows Home Server, and though neither HP nor Microsoft has shared any numbers with me I expect that HP has sold more Home Servers than any other OEM.
But even selling the most Home Servers may not have been enough. Windows Home Server is commonly described as a niche product, albeit with a strong and vocal enthusiast base, but likely hasn’t been adopted as quickly or as broadly by consumers as either HP or Microsoft would have liked. Again, I don’t have any numbers from HP or Microsoft but I can’t believe that HP would pull their team off of Windows Home Server strictly to jump onto the webOS platform unless there were other (probably financial) factors.
I also suspect that the recent news of the removal of Drive Extender is unlikely to have had a direct influence on the decision by HP to cancel the MediaSmart Server. My feeling is that the HP decision has been in the works for some time. We also saw the recent announcement that HP is now selling Drobo products, which would have taken a while to put into place and shows that other options besides Windows Home Server have likely been in the works for months now.
The statement from the StorageWorks team does leave some room for the possibility of future Small Business products based upon the Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (aka Aurora) and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials (aka Breckenridge) platforms, but as usual HP declined to comment on unannounced products.
I have to say that I am personally quite saddened by this news. As many of you know I helped build the original MediaSmart Server during my time at HP and worked closely with the original Windows Home Server team, and the enthusiasm for this product made it the most exciting work of my career. It is disappointing to see HP no longer making Home Servers, but I still believe that there is a real need for the concept of a Home Server and am hopeful that we’ll soon learn from Microsoft and other OEMs what the future will look like.
Post in the comments and let us know how this news affects you, as well as what you think this news will have on the future of Windows Home Server.