Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Every now and again a new innovation shows up in enterprise IT that promises to change the status quo in a way that creates numerous opportunities for the channel. The latest example of this is a new class of servers based on low-energy processors that can be densely packed together to run a wide variety of application workloads more cost efficiently than traditional servers.

One of the first substantiations of this new class of servers is the Hewlett-Packard Proliant Moonshot server platform, which is scheduled to be available in the second half of this year. Based on Intel Atom S1200 processors, these new offerings consist of an HP Moonshot 1500 enclosure and a series of HP ProLiant Moonshot servers.

By using low-energy processors in place of the better known Intel Xeon class processors, HP says it is now able to build servers that take up one-eighth the space of a traditional server, resulting in the ability to pack up to 1,800 servers in a rack. Overall, HP claims that the HP ProLiant Moonshot servers consume 89 percent less energy, while costing 77 percent less than traditional servers.

While not ideally suited for every application workload, the HP Moonshot servers can efficiently run enough classes of application workloads to become a major workhorse in the data center. Scott Weller, vice president and general manager for HP Technology Services Support, said that in addition to handling Web applications and any class of workload that needs to efficiently scale out, the massive amount of memory available on low-energy processors also makes them well-suited for big data applications.

When all the application workload classes that low-energy processors are ideally suited for are added up, more than half the application workloads running in any given data center could wind up running on this new class of server.

Obviously, that creates a massive opportunity for the channel. The challenges, says Weller, involve retraining sales and technical personnel on the capabilities of a new class of servers and then adjusting service delivery models. He adds that the industry as a whole has been here before. “This really isn’t all that different from when we made the transition to blade servers,” said Weller.

Longer term, however, additional complexity is likely to appear as organizations move to develop hybrid applications that span these new classes of servers and traditional x86 servers.

Compatible with the x86 instructions set, the HP ProLiant Moonshot servers will initially support Linux applications. But solution providers should expect to see them be certified to run additional operating systems—including Windows—that support the x86 instruction set.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.