HP Adds to Converged Infrastructure Lineup

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

HP rolled out a host of new infrastructure products during its Discover conference, taking its Converged Infrastructure to the next level.

HP (NYSE:HPQ) has rolled out the next phase in its converged infrastructure strategy with new products unveiled at its HP Discover conference this week.

This strategy and products enable greater agility for customers, an area that C-level executives say is an important contributor to the success of businesses today, according to an HP survey. And much of that agility is driven by technology.

The new products announced include the X9000 storage system, the Vertica Analytics System for increased business intelligence, VirtualSystem, AppSystems, and new storage services.

HP’s converged infrastructure has been focused on innovation so far, and even though that is still a core message behind the company’s announcements on the first day of HP Discover, the new products are really aimed at making business customers more agile, said Jan Zadak, executive vice president of enterprise sales and marketing at HP, during day one’s press conference. He tied the new product announcements into HP’s converged infrastructure message, as well as with the instant-on enterprise strategy that HP announced in November.

New storage solutions

HP has been touting market changes towards the convergence of servers, storage and networking for the last couple of years, and according to Dave Donatelli, executive vice president of enterprise servers, storage, networking and technology services at HP, the market is showing numerous signs that HP’s predictions were correct.

With an eye towards converging infrastructure instead of constructing it in silos, HP is now ready to move into the next phase of its converged infrastructure rollout.

"Storage for years is one of those that was built in a silo, built typically with non-standard hardware and proprietary software," Donatelli said. That’s changing with new systems and storage from HP, he said.

HP has made several changes to its storage portfolio over the last two years, and it’s adding a few products to that portfolio that will continue to push forward its converged infrastructure strategy.

The HP X9000 IBRIX Storage System is a scale-out NAS designed to scale up to 16PB and more than 1,000 nodes. Managed through a single node, the X9000 was designed to be simple to manage, yet also be highly scalable to support the massive amounts of data businesses have to contend with, said David Scott, general manager and senior vice president of HP Storage, the newly-rebranded storage business unit.

Also announced is the HP X5000 G2 Network Storage System, a product developed jointly with Microsoft and aimed at mid-size businesses. Designed with Microsoft-centric environments in mind, the X5000 is meant to simplify storage management while reducing power requirements (and costs) and improving performance.

HP also introduced the latest generation of its Enterprise Virtual Array product. The HP P6000 EVA  is the fifth generation of the product, and according to Donatelli, customers have been asking when HP was going to release a new version of it.

The latest EVA product was designed to optimize costs and performance, Scott said. He mentioned an Edison Group report that stated the P6000 EVA is up to 30 percent faster to administer than products from competitors EMC and NetApp (a common theme throughout the press conference, actually).

New systems products

HP unveiled new systems portfolios that are built on a common infrastructure to make it as easy as possible for customers and channel partners to deploy the products in the field.

The new AppSystems portfolio includes a set of products that have been optimized for application areas like business intelligence, real-time analytics, data management and collaboration.

"Today, one of the top issues that customers are facing is giving more business intelligence and insight to their end-users. And that’s why we’ve focused the initial entry of our AppSystems primarily on business intelligence and information management," said Paul Miller, vice president of HP ESSN alliances and solutions.

Data is getting bigger, and having a "one size fits all" model doesn’t work for customers any more. With data continuing to grow at a speedy rate (and there are only indications the growth rate will continue to accelerate), the AppSystems portfolio is designed to help businesses manage and control both their structured and unstructured data, as well as to get greater insight into the data they collect.

The AppSystems portfolio includes the HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance and the HP Database Consolidation Solution optimized for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, but the crown jewel of the portfolio is the HP Vertica Analytics System, which came about as a result of HP’s recent acquisition of Vertica. The Vertica product enables real-time data analysis so customers can get detailed analytics from vast amounts of data quickly.

It provides business analytics in minutes, said Paul Miller, vice president of HP ESSN alliances and solutions. The Vertica product was designed from the ground up for real-time analytics and can handle up to 1PB of data in a single rack. It can handle queries as data is loaded, and it can query uncoded data without having to decompress the data, which Miller said is a change from other business analytics products.

According to Colin Mahony, vice president of product management at Vertica, HP will be working with a broad set of channel partners to bring the Vertica appliance to market. It was designed to be an easy-to-deploy solution that doesn’t require a lot of pre-configuration or post-configuration work on the part of the partner.

"Our whole push is on time to value," Mahony said.

POD data centers go green

Another big announcement from HP was in the area of POD data centers. HP isn’t new to the POD arena, but its new HP POD 240a (otherwise known as the EcoPOD) takes a green IT approach that is meant to reduce power and cooling costs to a fraction of traditional data centers, said Mark Potter, senior vice president and general manager of HP industry-standard servers and software.

HP can fit 4,400 into the 900-square-foot EcoPOD for approximately $8.3 million (for a tier three data center) versus $33 million for a traditional data center. Designed to be energy efficient, the EcoPOD data center’s annual energy costs are about $55,200, which Potter compared to the average (according to IDC data) of $1.54 million for traditional data centers. The significantly reduced energy costs is in large part because of its energy efficiency, which reduces energy consumption to the point where very little energy is wasted, he said.

The EcoPOD addresses a looming data center capacity crisis, Potter explained. Required capacity is expected to double over the next few years, and there will also be government regulations coming into effect that will limit the power consumption of data centers, he said.

"We need to think differently about how we solve that crisis," Potter said. HP’s answer is the EcoPOD.

Another key selling point for the EcoPOD is its low deployment time – three months instead of two years for traditional brick-and-mortar data centers, he said.

"The new EcoPOD is the world’s most efficient data center. It can be deployed 88 percent faster at a quarter of the cost," Potter said.

Generally available in North America in the fourth quarter of 2011, the EcoPOD offers an opportunity for channel partners to sell the POD and the data center infrastructure, as well as to sell integration services around it, he said.

"[Channel partners] play an important role. Our VARs participate in this just like they participate in our server design, etc.," Potter said.

HP is putting a lot of emphasis on POD data centers, and it’s betting this newer way of deploying data center is the future.

"I just think it’s a foundational technology," Potter said.