HP New Data Center Strategy Strikes Back at Cisco

By Steve Wexler  |  Print this article Print

With the market opportunity for converged IT infrastructure solutions expected to reach $35 billion by 2012, HP has announced new products and services under its replacement strategy for the Adaptive Infrastructure. The new initiative is called Converged Infrastructure.

HP is semi-retiring its Adaptive Infrastructure initiative, unveiled in 2003, and announcing the Converged Infrastructure architecture, claiming it is the only vendor that can provide it, albeit in an open and standards-based approach that will be inclusive of other vendors, and which will have a substantial role for the channel.

The announcement follows one by Cisco earlier this week that took the next step in its fledgling data center strategy with EMC and VMware, while Brocade and Oracle reaffirmed their open approach to IT with several multivendor bundles.

"We are evolving our strategy from Adaptive Infrastructure to Converged Infrastructure," says Doug Oathout, vice president of HP Enterprise Servers and Networking. "We are going to build on that with Converged Infrastructure and allow [customers] to pull those pieces together."

HP will offer several new products and services and is supporting its launch with extensive market research. According to new data from HP and Coleman Parkes Research, more than 90 percent of senior business decision makers believe business cycles will continue to be unpredictable in the next few years. As a result, 80 percent recognize a need to be far more flexible in their approaches to business and technology, 84 percent believe innovation will be critical to their organization's success, and 71 percent would sanction more technology investments if they could see how those investments met their organization's time-to-market and business opportunity needs.

Other data finds that only 34 percent of typical IT budgets are dedicated to business innovation, with the remaining 66 percent reserved for maintenance and operations. Solving the issue of IT sprawl is expected to create a $35 billion market opportunity for converged infrastructure solutions by 2012.

The HP Converged Infrastructure is intended to integrate existing silos of compute, storage, network and facility resources with unified management to deliver a virtualized, highly automated technology environment. Oathout says that unlike Cisco's Unified Computing initiative, this is a very customer-friendly approach. "First, Converged Infrastructure can fix what you have. We're not asking our customers to rip and replace."

HP says it will increase business agility through on-the-fly delivery of shared services. Governance through policy-based management and automated, template-driven application deployment should significantly speed time to business value. Complementary products include the enhanced HP Insight Dynamics, HP Insight Control and HP Business Technology Optimization solutions.

Enterprises will be able to dramatically lower costs and complexity with the standards-based wire-once network solution, FlexFabric, according to HP. "You'll only have to wire up the infrastructure once," says Oathout. "That's how we're different from Cisco."

With the HP Virtual Resource Pools, customers can optimize resource utilization for any application or workload. And the HP Data Center Smart Grid offers improved energy efficiency and management across the data center.

Also announced today but not scheduled to be available worldwide until the end of January are a number of new services for the Converged Infrastructure. These include one- to two-day Visioning workshops, proof-of-concept demonstrations, planning services, and design and implementation services.

The company also announced a new release of the HP Neoview enterprise data warehousing platform, with upgrades to both the software and hardware components. And it extended the HP BladeSystem Solution Builder program to enable additional independent software vendors to build converged infrastructure-oriented solutions.

HP also made a number of storage-related announcements, including the HP StorageWorks X9000 Network Storage Systems that scales up to 16 petabytes, the largest such solution offered, says Oathout. In addition, the company extended the capability of its StorageWorks EVA systems to pool multiple arrays into one virtual pool for both HP and third-party products. With the HP StorageWorks SAN Virtualization Services Platform (SVSP), customers can achieve up to 300 percent better capacity utilization and scalability beyond individual array limitations, the company says.

Finally, HP announced the StorageWorks Cluster Extension EVA software to make it the first array to support Microsoft Hyper-V Live Migration for transparent application migration across data centers, providing disaster recovery for both servers and storage in virtual environments.

The channel will be essential to the rollout of the Converged Infrastructure strategy, says Oathout. Many of the components are in the market today and can be sold by the channel.

"We rely on our channel in large, medium and small customers to implement our products. We are really enabling our partners, hopefully helping our partners become more trusted advisers to our customers."

He says the channel has already been informed about the strategy and training has begun. HP is following the announcement with a 30-city road show over the next three months where partners and customers will learn more about the Converged Infrastructure strategy. Also, the company has announced a tool and training package, available Nov. 16, that will enable partners to help their clients move to a Converged Infrastructure environment.

"It's a very good tool in addressing the pain points of the client and understanding how to move them to the next level," Oathout says.

All in all, this is a significant change for HP and the channel, says Oathout. Previously, partners sold individual pieces of the solution. "This is going to enable our sellers to sell servers, storage and networking all together," he says. "It's very different from the past, bringing them all together."