HP Servers Buyer's Guide

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Aug 6, 2010


More on HP Servers

HP recently took the lead in server sales from IBM, although there is very little in it. That leap ahead may well be the result of a very busy time for the company since our previous server snapshot more than a year ago. This includes a refresh of the entire Integrity and ProLiant lines, as well as HP making a major play on convergence.

Our latest Server Buyer's Guide looks at what the No. 1 server hardware vendor is selling these days.

"HP has invested a lot in systems management and providing single pane of glass management for spanning multiple chip architectures and operating systems," said Dan Olds, an analyst with Gabriel Consulting Group. "This is a compelling and powerful value proposition and is resonating with customers."

ProLiant Servers

HP ProLiant servers appear to now be the primary focus of HP. The company owns more than one-third of the x86 server space, well ahead of the competition. According to Olds, HP (NYSE: HPQ) is at around 35 percent in this area, compared to Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) with 21 percent in second spot.

Users have a great deal of choice with the OEM, as it offers dozens of servers that cover the entire x86 gamut. More models are coming out on a monthly basis.

HP's Server Line Up at a Glance

In March, for example, HP added the BL280c, BL2x220c, BL460c, BL490cG6 server blades and the WS460c G6 workstation blade. In addition, rack-optimized servers were added -- the DL160, DL170h, DL180, DL320, DL360 and DL380 G6. The ProLiant ML330 and ML350 G6 tower servers were releases for small business workloads, while the SL160z, SL170z and SL2x170z G6 were designed for scale-out environments.

"Additionally in March, HP announced the next generation of HP ProLiant servers that offer a significant performance boost and enhanced power savings over previous generations, which included the HP ProLiant DL165, DL385 and SL165z G7 servers," said Lorraine Bartlett, vice president of marketing, Business Critical Systems, HP. "The new HP ProLiant G7 servers with AMD Opteron 6100 Series processors increase operational efficiencies.

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According to Bartlett, these G7 servers combined with AMD Opteron 6100 series processors deliver a 27 times performance-per-watt increase over earlier models.

The G7 portfolio was again expanded in May with the ProLiant DL360 and DL380 as the new additions. Bartlett said these servers deliver up to a 20-to-1 consolidation ratio, reducing floor space and improving data center capacity.

In June, HP expanded the G7 portfolio yet again with the BL465c, BL685c, BL2x220, BL460c, BL620c and BL680c G7 -- three rackmount systems that include the DL580, DL585 and DL980 G7. These servers are based on Opteron 6100 Series and Intel Xeon 5600/7500 series processors.

Those users who prefer blades or racks, then, have plenty of choice: From simple low-cost models to high-end boxes with all imaginable bells and whistles. Similarly, in the tower category, HP provides a decent range of options. The grid below illustrates the wide range of servers to from which to choose.

Those who want to mix and match ProLiant towers, racks and blades within the data center benefit from HP's Converged Infrastructure portfolio, which is aimed at reducing the price and difficulty of server management by sharing common components across an ProLiant line.

There is also a strong sense of out with the old, in with the new. Many ProLiant G5 servers are being discontinued. These include the DL165 G5, DL185 G5, ML110 G5, ML115 G5, BL2x220 G5, BL460c G5, DL380 G5, DL385 G5 and ML370 G5.

"HP's blade everything strategy has paid off in a big way, and they're still the vendor to beat in this area," said Olds. They've also made the most of their partnerships with both Intel and AMD to offer a very wide range of products."

Integrity Servers

According to Olds, however, HP doesn't seem to pay a lot of attention to its Intel Itanium-based Integrity server line. "Their dominance in x86 and blades seems to overshadow the Integrity offerings in terms of marketing focus and investment," he said. "However, HP sells quite a bit of Unix-based gear, typically the second place vendor after the IBM Power brand."

HP is particularly strong in certain segments of the Unix market. HP-UX based systems host more SAP, for example, than either IBM or Oracle (Sun) by a large margin. Olds added that the introduction of the long-delayed Itanium Tukwila processor, a new revisions of the HP-UX operating system and a published roadmap that runs out past five years have given HP's Unix customers a reason to take a look at refreshing their installed base.

Newer servers include Integrity blades, such as the BL860c i2, BL870c i2 and the BL890c i2. Bartlett said they all offer 2.5 times the compute density compared to traditional rack mount servers. These blades use the Intel Itanium 9300 series processor (two to four cores) and come with various amounts of memory. While the BL860c i2 comes with up to 96 GB RAM, the BL890c i2 has up to 384 GB.

But blades aren't the only game in town on Integrity. The rx2800 i2 is a newer two-socket rackmount server aimed at SMBs or small remote deployments, such as branch office applications. It offers expanded memory, I/O and disk capacity in a 2U footprint with eight-core scalability. At the top of the line is the Integrity Superdome 2 that includes a modular, bladed design, common components and standard racks intended to power mission-critical applications.

"HP recently introduced an entirely new design for the Superdome system that emphasizes modularity while preserving the ability to run very large single system images," said Olds. "It's an impressive server, but, typically for HP, seems to be flying under the radar a bit in terms of market awareness."

Some features include an intelligent fault-tolerant Crossbar Fabric that routes data or transactions to the faster, most optimal pathways between blades and I/O. The Superdome boasts power-on-once technology with hot-swappable components, online replaceable crossbars, and the Superdome 2 Analysis Engine for predictive error handling and analysis. It also offers three packages for scale-as-you-grow flexibility, offered in eight-socket, 16-socket and 32-socket configurations

.

"For over 10 years HP Integrity servers, including Superdome, have powered some of the world's most demanding, mission-critical environments –- especially in verticals like financial services, manufacturing and distribution, health care, as well as telecommunications," said Bartlett. "There are 81 percent of Global 100 companies and 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies using HP Integrity servers."

HP Servers, At a Glance

Server Line ProLiant Integrity Other Servers
Description x86 servers Itanium processor-based servers with HP-UX and 24x7 fault-tolerant platform with NonStop OS 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 5600, 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 5600, Xeon 7300, Xeon 7400, Xeon 7500, Pentium D, Celeron D and AMD Opteron 2000, Opteron 2200, Opteron 2300, Opetron 6100, Opteron 8000, Opteron 8300
BL (BladeSystem) Servers:
Intel Xeon 5100, Xeon 5200, Xeon 5300, Xeon 5400, Xeon 5600, Xeon 7200, Xeon 7300, Xeon 7500, Xeon MP, Core 2 Duo and AMD Opteron 2300, Opteron 8000, Opteron 8300
SL (Scale Out) Servers:
AMD Opteron 6100, Intel Xeon5600 WS:
Xeon 5600
Intel Itanium 9300 series
Intel Itanium 9100 series
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 servers
Entry level: 2-4 or 2-8; up to 2040 using clusters
Mid-range: 2-8; up to 2040 using clusters
High end: 2-16; up to 4080 using clusters
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, Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 5 Update 1, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and 11, OpenVMS v8.3 and OpenVMS v8.3-1H1
Integrity Server Blade: HP-UX 11i v3, HP-UX 11i v2, Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 5 Update 1, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and 11, OpenVMS v8.3 and OpenVMS v8.3-1H1
Integrity NonStop server: 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
ML115
ML110 G6
ML150 G6
ML330 G6
ML350 G6
ML370 G6
ML310 G5p
DL Servers
DL580 G5
DL585 G5
DL785 G5
DL120 G6
DL160 G6
DL 160se G6
DL165 G6
DL165 G7
DL180 G6
DL320 G6
DL360 G6
DL370 G6
DL380 G6
DL360 G7
DL380 G7
DL385 G6
DL580 G7
DL585 G6
DL585 G7
DL785 G6
DL980 G7
DL1000 Multi-Node Servers
DL170h G6

BL (BladeSystem) Servers
BL465c G5
BL495c G5
BL680c G5
BL 685c G6
BL2x220c G6
BL280c G6
BL460c G6
BL490c G6
BL495c G6
BL465c G7
BL685c G7
Entry-Level
rx2660
rx3600
rx6660
rx2800 i2
Integrity NonStop 1200
Integrity NonStop 2000
Integrity NonStop NS5000ST
Integrity NonStop3000AC
Midrange
rx7640
rx8640
NonStop 14200
NonStop 50000CG (Carrier Grade)
NonStop CME (Carrier Grade)
High-End
Integrity Blade
BL860c
BL860c i2
BL870c
BL870c i2
BL890c i2
Integrity NonStop NS 16200
Integrity Superdome 2
HP 9000 servers
HP AlphaServer systems

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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