Hewlett-Packard's Hong Kong unit has joined forces with Brocade Communications Systems to strengthen professional services in Hong Kong for emerging corporate storage area networks (SANs). The two companies yesterday claimed their alliance was the first of its kind in Asia for Brocade, a major international supplier of networking gear used in computer data storage systems. Under their non-exclusive agreement, Hewlett-Packard (HP) becomes Brocade's first authorised professional services provider in Hong Kong with a focus on consulting, design and implementation work for corporate SANs. Brocade will provide quality assurance, training and back-end technical support to help HP offer SAN analysis and return-on-investment assessment, architecture design services and management of these types of storage network. This move was also expected to support HP's efforts to sell more data storage hardware to enterprises, complementing the computer firm's sales of desktop and server products. Andy Leung, enterprise support services business manager at HP Hong Kong, said: 'Storage has become a major part of information-technology spending in Hong Kong and SANs provide an effective way to achieve considerable cost savings and performance benefits when consolidating storage environments. 'By combining HP's expertise in supporting heterogeneous computing environments with Brocade's technology, tools and experience in the SAN arena, we are ready to offer a full range of SAN services, from initial-need assessment to ongoing management.' Gartner forecast world demand for SANs to grow from 16.5 per cent of total storage sales in 2000 to 52.9 per cent by 2007, when the market will exceed US$16.8 billion in worldwide sales. In its recent survey of 81 chief information officers from small, medium and large enterprises around Asia, Brocade found that 70 per cent of executives planned to implement a SAN in their organisations. Henry Fong, director of technical services for Brocade Asia-Pacific, said Brocade's worldwide professional services programme had mainly focused on providing consulting and management services for large-scale SAN deployments with traditional, independent systems integrators as partners. 'With HP, we look forward to having our technical, sales and marketing teams help the company deliver best-of-breed storage networking solutions to our mutual customers,' he said. He said Brocade was working on more regional alliances for SAN services, following the deal with HP in Hong Kong. Mr Leung said: 'Market demand for SAN consulting services is ramping up as SAN technology addresses business continuance, systems consolidation, data security and centralised management of storage environments.' The HP-Brocade agreement extends an existing partnership between the two companies. They have been co-operating in several product development and integration projects, such as optimising HP's OpenView management software for Brocade's SilkWorm family of fabric switches for networked storage systems.