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."