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HP’s Livermore, Donatelli dive deeper into converged solutions

by Philip Sellers

HP Discover 2011 Give Away

Today’s keynote stressed the ways in which HP is helping your business to become more agile in the market and react to the external forces on business through the use of integrated software and hardware solutions powered by HP technology.

Ann Livermore was up first stressing the point of HP making your IT business more agile, more able to react in an instant.  To illustrate the point, Livermore used a slide to show the power of an instant – in an instant, 12,000,000 texts will be sent, $323,400 worth of mobile payments will be made, 97,000 tweets will be tweeted, 20,000 mobile apps will be downloaded and 2600 mobile phones will be sold.  In short terms, a lot happens in an instant – and how can you capitalize will count a great deal in the future for continued success in business.

Without saying, she pointed out how inflexible and rigid IT has been in the past in relation to making changes and implementing new technology.  Her talk related to what Dan Tapscott relayed yesterday.  With a coming generation of consumers and workers, their expectations are different as we move into the time of instant-on.  The coming generation of workers are ‘digital natives’ and expect speed as a primary component.  Livermore went on to discuss three mega-trends in business today – evolving business models, technology advancements and a changing workforce.

Livermore stressed the things that technology must deliver in the changing IT landscape – flexibility, availability, security, insight and speed.   As later speakers would relay in more detail, security must be designed into a solution at the beginning and not as an afterthought at this point.  Speed is also critical in business today as business must react to user needs and consumer whims at much faster paces to capitalize on trends.

HP has also created a path to the Instant-On enterprise which includes a series of assessments and workshops, workshops promised to be Powerpoint free and highly interactive, which can prepare business to make a game plan to move to Instant-On.

Moving into more detail on these topics, HP Executive Vice President Dave Donatelli came up to discuss converged infrastructure in more detail and he began with networking.  Donatelli reiterated HP’s commitment to changing the networking business and event cited an industry report which interviewed the competing vendor’s resellers who now confess that HP is a “now part of the discussion” when it comes to networking.

Donatelli also discussed new core switching products, the 10500 series, which will debut the second half of 2011.  These switches are capable of 128 wire speed 10GbE ports, 3 microsecond latency and 100 GbE ready.   The 10500 line outperforms Cisco’s Catalyst 6589 with 75% lower latency, 250% higher performance and 270% higher 10GbE density.  In addition to the new high-end line, enhancements for the existing E8200 and E5400 line are being made.  New cards for these lines allow 288 GbE wire-speed ports per chassis, sub 3 microsecond latency and lowers power consumption by 35%.   All three of these lines are part of HP’s FlexCampus solution set.

FlexCampus fits into a total FlexNetwork Architecture.  FlexNetwork is an overall common platform across product lines with a common way to manage and maintain these products.  FlexNetwork includes the FlexCampus products, FlexBranch and FlexFabric to meet end to end networking needs of customers.

But the star of the networking segment was the demo of the Intelligent Management Control (IMC) software package.  IMC is capable of managing a heterogeneous network environment with multiple vendors equipment from a single pane of glass and with a common set of tools and capabilities.  The IMC supports multiple vendor’s switches, including 1000 Cisco devices.  The interface was clean and intuitive and actually looked different from other HP management interfaces.  In addition to management in the physical world, the IMC is also able to bridge management for virtual and physical into a single interface, introducing abilities like kicking off vMotion on an VMware host.

Donatelli moved onto storage next talking about the enhancements that HP announced yesterday to the world, including a new X9000 Ibrix NAS that is now based on industry standard hardware – the Proliant G7 line – and the new P6000 EVA with enhancements like SAS drive support in addition to Fiber Channel, support for Fiber Channel, FCoE and iSCSI connectivity to the array, and new software features – thin-provisioning and dynamic LUN migration.

In addition to new announcements, HP took the chance to talk about traditional storage versus their fastest growing segements – 3PAR, Ibrix, Lefthand and StoreOnce.  All of these are newly architected storage technologies.  Donatelli took the opportunity to talk about when most legacy storage was architected 20 years ago, at a time before the web browser was even invented and when the only folks on the Internet were government, universities and maybe a few medical institutions.  He used that to lead into the 3PAR architecture features and what their customers really love about these arrays.

Lastly, the focus was put onto the converged infrastructure solution sets — HP VirtualSystem, HP AppSystem and HP Cloudsystem.

HP VirtualSystem is an impressive vertically aligned stack of hardware and software to provide virtualization with ties to public clouds as well as on the on premise private cloud.   A differentiator for HP VirtualSystem is that it supports all three major hypervisors – VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer.

In addition to the HP VirtualSystem, HP has created a full cloud stack – the HP CloudSystem.  Based on common converged infrastructure stack, HP has innovated a great high level management interface for creating cloud workloads.  Just like with hypervisor support, HP seeks to make this solution as open as possible by supporting other vendor’s storage as well as commodity x86 server hardware.

The CloudSystem build-out process begins with a designer which lays out the necessary network, server and storage required to accomplish the system.  It is a drag and drop interface on which you build out and connect the components.  Once you have the basic build out completed, you simply drag and drop the software components required, whether it is the hypervisor, OS, or database that is needed to configure the environment.  Once completed, the drawing is submitted and a member of the IT teach reviews and implements the request – however, the implementation is painless and completed in just a few minutes.  Comparatively, the infrastructure is deployed and available instantly.  As the IT staff, you have the choice of where to deploy the solution, whether that is on the private cloud, a public cloud provider or a hybrid public/private solution.

Although the keynote showed off a high level overview of the HP Cloud System product, there are still many details in relation to security and network extension that would have to be answered before a solution like this could be implemented.  Bandwidth and other real-world constraints will likely come into play with a solution such as this, so more information on this will be sought this week.

The final part of the converged infrastructure portfolio is the HP AppSystem group of products.  These are task built appliances and solutions which accomplish running a particular high-intensity system within many companies.  Examples of this are the E5000 Messaging System for Microsoft Exchange 2010 and and a new X5000 NAS solution based on Windows Storage Server.  Other purpose built solutions from the Microsoft partnership included the Business Decision appliance built on Microsoft SQL server.  The goal with all of these appliances or solutions are to built out these software systems in a matter of hours instead of weeks or months, to improve the overall performance by tuning the hardware to the particular workload, and to drive down costs while increasing performance.

Because HP is developing and creating their own server, storage, networking and software in-house they are singularly positioned in the market to be able to deliver the full stack of a solution from a single vendor.  Where other vendors are accomplishing this through strategic partnerships between companies, which still splits the responsibilities and the R&D focus.

In the interest of full disclosure, HP and Ivy Worldwide invited me and paid for my trip to HP Discover.  Even though, I am trying to relay the information as impartially as possible.

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