HP Throws Down Advanced Server Gauntlet

Michael Vizard

Hewlett-Packard has a lot in common with Cisco and IBM in that all three are trying to transform the economics of IT via the adoption of new advanced server platforms. Where HP differs from the other two is that instead of asking hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish that goal, HP is delivering a series of Proliant Gen8 servers that have a price point starting well below $2,000.

This week HP extended its next-generation server push to include Opteron 6200 Series processors from Advanced Micro Devices in addition to making available HP PCIe Gen2 IO Accelerators that accelerate storage performance using flash memory technology from Fusion I/O. HP also extended its lineup of systems based on Intel processors.

The Proliant Gen8 servers are based on a new Proactive Insight Architecture that HP developed as part of an effort to automate most of the mundane functions associated with managing servers. This week HP also announced that more than 30 vendors have agreed to join a new Proactive Insight Architecture Alliance that will serve to extend HP's management capabilities beyond the core server platform.

According to Jim Ganthier, HP vice president of marketing for industry standard servers and software, that new architecture when used in a 100,000-square-foot data center can save between $24 to $29 million in operation costs over a three-year period. The servers can pay for themselves in terms of return on investment in as little as five months, he adds.

Best of all, says Ganthier, the entry price points for the Proliant Gen8 servers are accessible to every IT organization in a way that allows them to scale out their IT investments in a more modular fashion, versus requiring customers to make significant upfront investments. And just like those much more expensive IBM PureSystems or Cisco Unified Computing Systems offerings, the HP ProLiant Gen8 servers can optimize performance based on patterns of application workloads, says Ganthier.

As a result, Ganthier says that HP is willing to put the Proliant Gen 8 servers up against any other server platform in terms of the number of virtual machines that can be run and the total cost per virtual machine deployed on the platform.

Ganthier says what ultimately differentiates the Proliant Gen8 servers is the engineering effort HP put into the components that are wrapped around the processors. Rather than using off-the-shelf components, HP developed smart array and an integrated lights-out (iLO) management technologies under a Project Voyager initiative that are transforming the economics of the data center, says Ganthier.

It's too early to say which vendors will ultimately win the war for the next generation of servers. But given the much lower cost of entry for HP Proliant Gen 8 servers, Ganthier says HP right now really likes its chances.

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