HP’s Gen8 servers attack data center woes head on with better management, automation, and energy conservation to cut total costs

HP today took direct aim at the ever-increasing costs of data centers and managing an explosion of data by announcing a new generation of automated and efficient hardware. The new generation of ProLiant servers includes better internal management, powerful automation features, and improved energy conservation.

The ProLiant Gen8 servers are part HP’s Converged Infrastructure strategy, and represent the first step in the company’s Project Voyager, a two-year, $300-million effort to redefine the economics of the data center. At the heart of the new generation of servers is ProActive Insight architecture, which includes integrated lifecycle automation, dynamic workload acceleration, automated energy optimization, and proactive service and support. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Data has become a differentiator in business, and with an ever-expanding growth in storage needs, enterprises are feeling the pinch in personnel costs, energy, and facilities. Supporting data as a lifecycle may be IT’s fastest growing cost worldwide.

Analysts now predict a 45 percent annual increase in storage over the next three years, and the current annual costs associated with storage are estimated at $157 billion. In addition, server administration and operations cost three times the price of servers, while the cost of facilities to accommodate the data center is even higher.

“The skyrocketing cost of operations in the data center is unsustainable, and enterprises are looking to HP to help solve this problem,” said Mark Potter, senior vice president and general manager, Industry standard Servers and Software, HP. “We are delivering innovative intelligence technologies that enable servers to virtually take care of themselves, allowing data center staff to devote more time to business innovation.”

Integrated lifecycle management

ncorporating three major innovations, Integrated Lifecycle Automation simplifies common tasks to keep systems running at peak performance, with an estimated 93 percent less downtime during updates than with previous generations, said HP. These innovations include:

  • Intelligent Provisioning, which enables organizations to get systems online three times faster with a fully integrated server and operating system configuration tool.
  • Active Health system, which allows administrators to collect troubleshooting information five times faster by continuously monitoring more than 1,600 system parameters and securely logging all configuration changes.
  • Smart Update, a system maintenance tool that systematically updates servers and blade infrastructures at the scale of the data center.

Dynamic workload acceleration

The demand for data-intensive and transactional workloads such as data warehousing, real-time analytics, and virtualized environments is expanding dramatically. These workloads bring unpredictability to the data center requiring a fundamental change in the way compute and storage services integrate.

HP’s Gen8 servers aim to reduce and in some cases eliminate bottlenecks by converging compute and storage services through three innovations:

  • Solid-state optimization, delivering what HP says is a 500 percent improved storage performance using SSDs that reduces costs and downtime over previous generations, and promises two times more storage per server.
  • Real-time data protection, adding multiple embedded data protection technologies such as Advanced Data Mirroring, which HP says is 1,000 times safer than traditional two-drive mirroring in previous generations, while improving read performance.
  • Intelligent performance analytics that continuously optimize system performance and efficiency in real time, with the ability to analyze a variety of workload-specific data points.

Automated energy optimization

nsuring that data center capacity will meet growing workload requirements is critical. However, constraints on physical space, rising power demands, and limits on available cooling are adversely affecting data center capacity. In many organizations IT managers are struggling to get what they need from existing resources without inadvertently causing downtime.

The Gen8 servers enable data center and IT managers to identify the physical location of each server in the rack, row and data center. This insight, combined with a sea of intelligent sensors embedded into each server, allows users to reduce power requirements, reclaim as much as 10 percent more usable power per circuit and eliminate manual configuration and tracking errors that can increase downtime.

Three new features automate energy optimization in the data center so users can:

  • Optimize workload placement with Location Discovery Services and eliminate labor-intensive and error-prone tracking of IT assets
  • Reduce energy use and increase power capacity with Thermal Discovery Services, which improve airflow efficiency by as much as 25 percent with an intelligent server rack meaning that enterprises can realize an estimated energy saving of $2,750 per 10kW rack
  • Increase system uptime with Power Discovery Services, which automatically track power usage per rack and server, eliminating errors and manual record keeping to reduce unplanned data center outages

Partner program

HP says the new servers will also be a boon to participants in the Partner Program, because partners can expand their service portfolio, increase partner touchpoints, enhance remote technical capabilities, and create consultative opportunities over the life of the customer’s solution.

Further, by eliminating manual processes and the potential of human error, HP and channel partners can reduce outages, while focusing IT resources on strategic tasks. Specifically, partners can:

  • Deploy servers seven times faster over competing servers with automation and elimination of software downloads and CD installations.
  • Reduce downtime by automating processes for updates, application provisioning, patch management, and other maintenance tasks.
  • Improve issue resolution with a 95 percent “first-time fix” rate and 40 percent reduction in problem resolution through Insight Online, Active Health, and Insight Remote Support, which automatically pinpoint, diagnose and often proactively fix issues.

ProLiant Gen8 servers are available to early-adopter clients today. General availability begins in March and continues throughout 2012. This includes ProLiant ML tower servers for remote and branch offices and versatile ProLiant DLrack-mount servers that deliver a balance of efficiency and performance. Also included are ProLiant BL blade servers for cloud-ready Converged Infrastructure and ProLiant SL scalable system servers built for web, cloud and massively scaled environments.

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About Dana Gardner

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news editor covering the emerging software development and enterprise infrastructure arenas for the last 18 years. Gardner tracks and analyzes a critical set of enterprise software technologies and business development issues: Cloud computing, SOA, business process management, business intelligence, next-generation data centers, and application lifecycle optimization. His specific interests include Enterprise 2.0 and social media, cloud standards and security, as well as integrated marketing technologies and techniques. Gardner is a former senior analyst at Yankee Group and Aberdeen Group, and a former editor-at-large and founding online news editor at InfoWorld. He is a former news editor at IDG News Service, Digital News & Review, and Design News.
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