HP Talks Up Rewards of Data Center Revamp

By Richard Adhikari (Send Email)
Posted Sep 26, 2008


SAN FRANCISCO -- The explosion of data and staggering energy costs most enterprises face are creating the need for modernized data centers, and Hewlett-Packard is concentrating on this market, Ann Livermore, HP's executive vice president, told a packed hall at Oracle OpenWorld 2008.

Rethinking data center design to lower costs and reduce power is paying off for HP and its customers.

"By 2010, more than one-third of CEOs and CIOs say their current data center will be unable to meet growing demands, and 51 percent today say they have an urgent need to transform and modernize their data center," Livermore said.

HP is investing in cloud computing and virtualization to help transform the data center, and investing in green technologies to help customers cut the costs of running their infrastructure.

Many technologies come out of its own experience, Livermore said, making HP the latest major tech vendor to take a page from of its own playbook, following the steps of IBM, Oracle and a slew of others.

HP "has been on a journey the last three years transforming our own data centers because they needed it, and we're implementing and using our own products," Livermore said.

HP, which has teamed up with Intel and Yahoo to build cloud computing laboratories, has invested "significantly" in cloud computing technologies in particular, Livermore said. Although its blade and x86 technologies are "very popular," its recently unveiled Performance Optimized Datacenters, or PODs, are important as well, she added.

A POD is a 40-foot shipping container with up to 22 racks of servers inside, creating a "very scalable, flexible environment," Livermore said. They're being purchased by cloud service providers as part of their data centers, and HP has had interest from "a few financial institutions," according to Livermore.

POD-style data centers have become popularized by vendors like Sun Microsystems and Rackable Systems. HP joined the fray in July, hot on the heels of IBM, which had entered the market for mobile data centers earlier that month.

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HP is also investing heavily in virtualization, and "we've optimized our blades to address virtualization bottlenecks and we've optimized our Network-Attached Storage product," Livermore said.

In the past four to five years, HP has pumped cash into technologies that enable enterprises to move from standalone assets into virtualized pools, Livermore said. These include software, services, storage, servers and automation, virtualization and management technologies.

HP is also putting money into technologies that will lower the power and cooling requirements for data centers. "We believe we'll be able to create technologies that reduce the data center's carbon footprint by about 75 percent," Livermore said. HP is also working on replacing copper wiring in servers with a laser light beam, according to Livermore.

When it comes to the modernized data center, HP walks the talk — over the past three years, it has consolidated 85 data centers into six, and more than 16,000 applications to 6,000. Its revamped data centers also gave it 250 percent more compute power with 40 percent fewer servers. The company "did all this in a bladed environment where we can dynamically shift workloads," Livermore said.

The savings have let HP spend its money more profitably. "Instead of two-thirds of our spending going to maintenance and operation, we now have two-thirds going to innovation," Livermore said.

The news also signals that HP is hopping on the green bandwagon in earnest.

IBM, for example, has made no secret of its success in consolidating data centers and hardware — last year, it said it was working to consolidate about 3,900 servers onto about 30 mainframes, while during the past decade it consolidated its data centers from 155 to seven. These days, Big Blue is also focusing on initiatives like telecommuting, data center power monitoring and developing ways to cut enterprise energy costs with automated data center controls.

Just last month, Oracle showed that it was also clued into the green craze, talking up its own efforts at cutting costs through revamping its data center operations. The company said it consolidated more than 40 datacenters to three.

This article was originally published on InternetNews.com.

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