HP bets on the cloud with new Gen8 servers

LAS VEGAS — After a year that has seen much of the buzz around Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) focused on the software side, hardware was front and centre on day one of the vendor’s global partner conference as the vendor launched its new generation of Gen8 servers and announced a new cloud computing partner specialization.

Canada has been a little behind the curve on cloud computing adoption with our more conservative business nature, but in the last six months customers have begun moving into the proof of concept stage and it’s time for HP and its partners to really build an ecosystem arond cloud computing said Dave Frederickson, vice-president of enterprise servers, storage and networking (ESSN) with HP Canada.

“It’s really about automation, and how best to leverage and utilize my IT assets. Customers will no longer overbuild conpute capacity; they’ll build to point and leverage the cloud for peak service,” said Frederickson. “The public sector is really embracing it, and financial services, but it’s not unique to any one particular vertical.”

To assist partners, HP has added the Cloud Builder Specialist specialization to the PartnerOne progam, designed for partners with cloud expertise based on HP solutions. There’s also HP Interchange, a social networking tool designed to bring partners with different cloud deployment expertise together, and financial incentives for partners that bring business to HP CloudAgile service providers.

Channel business within the global ESSN business is growing 33 per cent faster than the direct business and now accounts for 60 per cent of the business unit’s revenue said David Donatelli, HP’s executive vice-president and general manager for ESSN. He sees the networking space as a two-horse race (between HP and Cisco) and, with margins of up to 40 per cent, he said networking offers a great opportunity for channel partners.

And the next opportunity for HP’s networking partners is their newly launched Gen8 ProLiant servers, the result of two years and US$300 million in research and development in what HP called Project Voyager, after the NASA mission. The main goal is to cut overall maintenance and power costs in data centres while maintaining high server uptimes.

The Gen8 servers will become generally available in March. HP did not provide full specifications of the servers, but earlier this month the company published initial details that they are multi-socket and based on Intel’s upcoming E5 processors, whose announcement is expected soon. Gen8 servers will eventually replace the Proliant G7 family, which was introduced in 2010 and based on x86 processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

One of the new power-saving technologies is HP’s 3-D Sea of Sensors, where overutilized servers are identified based on real-time location, power, workload and temperature data. Based on the data, system administrators can redirect workloads to ensure that servers are operating at the most peak efficiency. The new technology reduces the manual labor involved in monitoring power and cooling, according to HP.

The servers also include services to track power usage per rack and servers. Thermal Discovery Services improve airflow efficiency to cool servers. Over a three-year period, the new technologies can bring annual energy savings of up to US$640,000, and save more than 30 days of administration time a year per person in a 10,000-square-foot data centre, according to HP.

The servers are optimized for specific workloads such as databases, cloud and virtualization, according to HP. Improved memory, networking bandwidth and storage features mean that database application performance will be boosted by as much as 50 per cent compared to the previous generation of servers, the company said.

Customers want to redice costs and improve return on investment, and get stronger performance form higher availability infrastructure said Christina Corley, senior vice-president of corporate sales with CDW.

“(Gen8) is not just a step level upgrade; it”s a whole new evolution of server technology which is a great discussion for us to be able to have with our partners,” said Corley. “It’s not just technology for technology’s sake; it’s there to meet the needs of our customers, from smart socket to warranty management.”

Customers are consumed with issues of control and cost added Richard Fichera, vice-president and senior research analyst with Forrester. With CapEx driven now OpEx is now at the top of everyone’s mind, and he said the cost of powering servers over their lifetime is now approaching the acquisition cost. Management is also a persistent headache.

“Despite talk of automating (updates) many still walk around with media. If they’re lucky, they’ll have a single console and update servers one at a time,” said Fichera. “People want to do anything to avoid a new data centre so successive improvement is a good thing, allowing them to get more from the same footprint and budget.”

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

— With files from IDG News Service

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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