HP bakes automation into new servers, storage, energy-management wares

A data dedupe platform rounds out news from HP Tech Forum

HP kicked off its Tech Forum this week and announced 10 new ProLiant servers, upgrades to its Virtual Connect connectivity portfolio, and new capabilities for its Matrix server-provisioning software.

HP this week unveiled a slew of new servers, storage and networking gear to advance its "converged infrastructure" blueprint for streamlining IT infrastructure and operations.

The intent is to automate and simplify IT so that enterprises can free more time to focus on new initiatives, says Bethany Mayer, vice president of marketing for HP's enterprise servers, storage and networking division. "The idea is to take technologies and converge them in a way that helps our customers save money and allows them to spend less time on maintenance," she says.

HP targets hybrid IT environments

At the HP Tech Forum, going on in Las Vegas, the company announced several new servers, upgrades to its Virtual Connect connectivity portfolio, and new capabilities for its BladeSystem Matrix provisioning software. HP also added new software to its power management portfolio and announced a unified data-deduplication architecture for its storage gear.

The ProLiant server additions include three new rack-mount systems and seven new blade servers. The rack-mount servers offer up to 2TB of memory, and the new server blades support up to 1TB of memory.

A common thread among the new servers is the inclusion of greater automation options and self-healing capabilities, says Jim Ganthier, vice president of marketing for industry standard servers at HP.

For instance, HP added "virtual machine isolation" capabilities that allow users to isolate a virtual machine with a problem and automatically repair it without bringing down the physical server and other VMs. "We can find that one offending VM out of the 15 or 25 that reside on a server, isolate it, quietly shut it down, and allow you to do maintenance on it while still allowing the other VMs to continue to run," Ganthier says.

In addition, HP's Virtual Connect FlexFabric technology is now built into its ProLiant G7 server blades.

HP's Virtual Connect technology is designed to automate the process of connecting servers to networks and storage. Enterprises can reconfigure connections to LANs and storage-area networks (SAN) by moving workloads or adding and replacing servers on the fly, for instance.

The latest Virtual Connect FlexFabric module is a 10GB, 24-port device that connects BladeSystem server blades to any Fibre Channel, Ethernet and iSCSI network, eliminating the need for multiple interconnects.

"For the first time we're able to give folks a wire-once, change-ready infrastructure that connects to both LANs and SANs," Ganthier says. "You can connect to Fibre Channel, Ethernet and iSCSI, all with one device. Any connection, any network. And you can do it at any speed. We've got two 10GB ports, but you can now carve up those ports into four separate bands and assign priorities to them."

In other server news, HP's BladeSystem Matrix software is now integrated with HP's server automation technology to enable self-service provisioning of applications.

BladeSystem Matrix is software for provisioning blade servers with the corresponding storage and network connections. Integrated capacity planning tools let users adjust their infrastructure as business requirements change. The new version of HP BladeSystem Matrix also features automated storage tiering, which assigns storage based on application performance and availability requirements.

"BladeSystem Matrix allows you to provision everything from the boxes to the power to cooling, all the way to the application," Mayer says.

On the power management front, HP unveiled software that's designed to automate energy monitoring and control across the data center and eliminate unnecessary over-provisioning. HP Intelligent Power Discovery can collect and analyze data related to power usage from sources across the data center. The software culls data from IT systems, as well as third-party facility management tools (such as nlyte Software's data center management software and Eaton Corporation's Foreseer facilities software).

With the software, IT pros can view a real-time, graphical map of energy usage across servers and facilities. HP Intelligent Power Discovery also provides a view of each server's physical location, the server rack and an analysis of power, thermal and electrical configurations. The software can automatically verify power redundancy and identify equipment connections to prevent errors and potential circuit overloads.

Upgrades to HP's storage software are focused on simplifying data deduplication. Instead of requiring companies to deploy multiple products to tackle dedupe on different applications and platforms, the new HP StoreOnce can be deployed at multiple points in a converged infrastructure, reducing the number of times data has to be deduplicated.

StoreOnce is a single, unified deduplication architecture that companies can use on backup clients virtual appliances, inline appliances, and scale-out storage systems, Mayer says. Designed by HP Labs, the company's research arm, this new class of deduplication software can improve data management efficiency and performance, she says.

HP's StoreOnce software is available on all HP StorageWorks D2D backup systems. Existing D2D clients with a maintenance contract can download the software.

Intelligent Power Discovery is available on ProLiant DL series G7 servers, with prices starting at $2,279 and $3,499, depending on configurations.

HP's Virtual Connect FlexFabric modules will be available in the third quarter, starting at $18,500. The latest version of HP BladeSystem Matrix will be available in mid-July, starting at $150,000.

HP's ProLiant DL580 and DL585 G7 rack-optimized servers and the ProLiant BL465c and BL685c G7 server blades are available now. The ProLiant DL980, BL2x220, BL460c, BL490c, BL620c and BL680c G7 servers will be available in the coming months. Prices for ProLiant G7 servers start at $2,279.

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