HP Boosts Server Capabilities

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Now that HP has emerged as top dog in the server market, the company is aggressively adding to its arsenal in a bid to hold onto that leadership position over arch-rival IBM.


The company's server division certainly has been busy, shoring up its own line of products and forging stronger ties with partners to ensure HP has a role to play in the virtual, cloudy datacenter of the future.


The first order of business is shoring up the company's blade servers to handle mission-critical applications. Enter the Integrity NonStop NB50000c, the first c-Class BladeSystem to be outfitted with fault-tolerance technology originally acquired from Compaq in 1997. The company says it can provide up to "seven nines" (99.99999 percent) reliability in a two-server configuration (each sporting 8 GB, 1.6 GHz processors). The system is also the first to use 2.5-inch SAS drives.


HP is also bolstering its already close relationship with VMware, tying the VMware virtualization platform to the HP Business Service Management system. The deal extends a range of capabilities into the VMware environment, including discovery and dependence mapping, server and client automation, as well as network management and availability.


Application performance is also slated for an upgrade with the help of I/O storage technology from Fusion-io. The company's ioMemory architecture uses a proprietary form of silicon-based storage that the company says eliminates latency and bottlenecks for read- and write-intensive I/O applications. The company reports that it can achieve 200,000 IOPS within a typical c-Class BladeSystem.


Network performance should also be improved with support for Emulex' new LightPulse 8 Gb Fibre Channel HBAs for the ProLiant line. The single-channel LPe 12000 and dual-channel LPe 12002 devices operate with Linux and Windows Server 2003 and 2008 environments and offer support for Emulex' Virtual HBA technology for improved scalability.


HP certainly seems to be doing a lot of things right these days -- improving its own technology while forging the links to ensure its platforms play nice with the wider enterprise. Server buyers being a fickle bunch, there's every reason to expect IBM will regain the lead in sales at some point. But that really shouldn't matter to users, as long as the focus remains on improving server capabilities rather than market share.