HP Sharpens Server Offerings With a Focus on Blades

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Jan 8, 2009


As usual, a lot has gone on at HP since our previous snapshot in March 2008. However, nothing that could be classified as major. There are many new models, for example, but no real game-changers. Although HP might dispute that, as NonStop BladeSystem being added to the Integrity line.

HP Server Snapshot: Out with old, in with new was a running theme for HP's server lines in 2008. The emphasis is now on blades, and a two-in-one 'twin blade' and a virtualization-optimized blades are among the highlights.

"The biggest development since the last snapshot is the addition of the HP Integrity NonStop Bladesystem, the first fault-tolerant, high-availability server in a bladed form factor to enable 24/7 mission-critical computing," said Lorraine Bartlett, director of server marketing for Business Critical Systems at HP (Palo Alto, Calif.). "It delivers the lowest cost of ownership of any server in its class and boosts application performance, lowers costs and improves efficiency in the data center."

This, of course, represents the death knell for HP RISC-based processors. For the past several years, HP has been engaged in a strategy to eliminate all but Intel/AMD x86 and Intel Itanium-based processors. As a result, the company has steadily been end-of-lifing entire lines such as the AlphaServer, or converting systems over to Integrity (using Itanium processors) — as is the case with NonStop. The company will continue to provide support for the later versions of those servers for at least another five years. "In merging the Integrity NonStop line of fault-tolerant servers into its blade server products, HP is bringing together a long-running product success with a relatively new breakout," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata (Nashua, N.H.).

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Bartlett claims NonStop systems have the lowest lifetime TCO when taking into account the cost of downtime, manageability and upgrades. She stresses the line's scalability — while the NonStop begins at 2 processors, it scales up beyond 4000. In addition, its real-time relational database provides data integrity for constantly updated SQL databases. In terms of industry verticals, NonStop enjoys strong support in Communications Media Entertainment (CME), Financial Services, and Health and Life Sciences. The NonStop BladeSystem starts at $340,000 for a 2-processor version. It includes the OS, first year of support and a first-year hardware warranty.

"HP NonStop customers need higher performance to keep pace with increasing transaction volumes, while reducing their cost per transaction,' said Bartlett. "The new NonStop BladeSystem combines 24/7 mission critical computing with modular computing to change the economics of our customers' data centers."

ProLiant

Meanwhile, the HP ProLiant line has seen plenty of comings and goings. Gone are the ProLiant ML320 G5, ML570 G4, DL140 G3, DL 320s, DL365, DL385, DL385 G2 and the BL60p. In their place are the BL2x220c G5, BL495c, DL385 G5p, BL260c G5 and the DL120 G5.

Most of these are routine end-of-life replacement machines providing the latest processor/memory specs and technology. But the Bl2x220c G5, which supports two quad-core processors, is a different idea from HP. In effect, it acts as a Siamese-twin server blade. Its aim is to provide enough power to supply large data centers that don't have the necessary space to pack in servers (i.e., up to 1024 cores and 4TB RAM per 42U rack).

"The world's first two-in-one server blade, the HP ProLiant BL2x220c G5, combines two independent servers in a single blade, delivering 60 percent better performance per watt than similar configurations on the market and minimizing cooling and power costs," said Jim Ganthier, director of marketing for HP BladeSystem. "It enables up to 32 server nodes per enclosure, each capable of supporting 2 quad-core CPUs and up to 32GB of RAM."

Another new introduction from HP is the DL785 G5, which is a quad-core AMD Opteron-based machine.

"The DL785 G5 is a powerful and scalable 8-socket server that provides an ideal platform for virtualization by consolidating multiple servers and reducing the management, energy and space issues associated with server sprawl," said Ganthier.

According to some recent benchmark data released by VMware, the DL785 G5 achieved the highest virtualization performance and accumulated the largest number of virtual machines of any x86 server. This equated to 96 virtual machines. Thus, HP is positioning this server, as well as the DL585 G5 as a consolidation and virtualization platform.

Ganthier also mentioned the ProLiant BL495c virtualization blade, which he said was engineered with more memory and I/O than any other half-height blade server.

"The HP ProLiant BL495c virtualization blade is the world's first server blade specifically intended to host virtual machines," he said.

Blades and HP, it seems, are having a love affair. No other vendor has embraced the blade to the extent of HP. This certainly appears to be a winning strategy. According to IDC (Framingham, Mass.), blades now account for 11.0 percent of all server revenue, with HP owning 54.7 percent of the market. In fact, blades are the only form-factor to experience positive growth despite the recession.

Ganthier touts the ProLiant BL260c G5 as the most power-efficient and affordable server blade in the industry. He believes it costs 20 percent less and offers 64 percent more power efficiency than any other blade on the market.

As for the future, HP isn't saying much about what is in the pipeline, particularly on the ProLiant side. However, Bartlett voiced that the company is working on an extensive line of software for the NonStop systems that will be offered in the future.

"HP will continue to focus on providing businesses with bladed options, so you can expect to see more from us there," said Bartlett. "In the coming months, new software related to service oriented architectures and security will be released."

HP's Server Offerings, at a Glance

Server Line
ProLiant
Integrity
Other Servers
Description x86 servers Itanium processor-based servers and 24x7 fault-tolerant platform with NonStop OS HP NonStop S-series servers, HP Integrity NonStop servers, HP 9000 servers, HP AlphaServers, Carrier-Grade servers
Processor Type ML Servers:
Intel Xeon, Xeon 3000 Sequence, Xeon 5100, Xeon 5200, Xeon 5300, Xeon 5400, Xeon DP, Core 2, Pentium D, Celeron D and AMD Opteron, Athlon and Sempron
DL Servers
Intel Core 2, Xeon 3000 Sequence, Xeon 5000, Sequence, Xeon 5100, Xeon 5200, Xeon 5300, Xeon 5400, Xeon 7300, Xeon 7400, Pentium D, Celeron D and AMD Opteron 2000, Opteron 2200, Opteron 2300, Opteron 8000, Opteron 8300
BL (BladeSystem) Servers:
Intel Xeon 5100, Xeon 5200, Xeon 5300, Xeon 5400, Xeon 7200, Xeon 7300, Xeon MP, Core 2 Duo and AMD Opteron 2300, Opteron 8000, Opteron 8300
Intel Itanium NonStop S-series servers
MIPS RISC R14000 and R16000
HP Integrity NonStop servers
Intel Itanium
HP 9000 servers
PA-8900 and PA-8800
AlphaServer systems:
64-bit Alpha EV7z, EV7, EV68
Carrier-Grade:
Xeon, Itanium 2
Processor Range ML Servers: 1, 2, 4 and 8
DL Servers: 1, 2, 4 and 8
BL Servers: 2 and 4
Entry-Level: 1-4, 1-8
Midrange: 2-8, 2-16 , 2-32
High-End (Superdome) 2-16, 2-32, 6-128
Integrity server blade: 1-2, 2-8
Integrity NonStop server: 4-16
NonStop S-series servers:
2-4,080
HP 9000 servers:
Entry-Level: 1-2, 1-4, 2-8;
Midrange: 2-16, 2-32;
High-End (Superdome): 4-32, 4-64, 12-128;
HP AlphaServer systems:
Entry-Level: 1-2;
Midrange: 1-8;
High-End: 2-64;
Carrier-Grade: 1 and 2
Operating Systems Windows, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novell Open Enterprise Server, NetWare, Solaris 10, VMware ESX 3.x, VMware ESXi 3.5, HP Integrated Citrix XenServer Entry/Mid/High Level:
HP-UX 11i v3, HP-UX 11i v2, Windows Server 2003, Linux and OpenVMS
Integrity BL Blade: HP-UX 11i v3, HP-UX 11i v2, Windows Server 2003, Linux and OpenVMS
Integrity NonStop server: NonStop OS
HP NonStop S-series servers:
NonStop OS
HP Integrity NonStop servers:
NonStop OS
HP 9000 servers:
HP-UX 11i
HP AlphaServers:
OpenVMS, Tru64 UNIX
Carrier-Grade:
HP-UX, Tru64 UNIX, OpenVMS, Windows, Linux
Servers ML Servers:
ML110 G5
ML115
ML150 G5
ML310 G5
ML350 G5
ML370 G5
DL Servers:
DL120 G5
DL160 G5
DL160 G5p
DL180 G5
DL185 G5
DL320 G5p
DL360 G5
DL380 G5
DL385 G5
DL385 G5p
DL580 G5
DL585 G2
DL785 G5
BL (BladeSystem) Servers:
BL20p G4
BL25p G2
BL35p
BL45p G2
BL2x220c G5
BL260c G5
BL460c
BL460c G5
BL465c
BL480c
BL495c G5
BL680c G5
BL685c BL685c G5
Entry-Level:
rx2660
rx3600
rx6660
Midrange:
rx7640
rx8640
High-End:
Integrity Blade
BL860c
BL870c
Integrity NonStop servers Integrity NonStop
NB50000c
Integrity Superdome
NonStop S-series
Integrity NonStop Servers
NS16000
NS14000
NS1000
NonStop CME Telco Servers
HP 9000 servers:
Entry-Level
Midrange
High-End (Superdome)
HP AlphaServer systems

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Tags: HP, BladeSystem

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