GuidesHP Unveils New Blade, Cloud Computing Strategy

HP Unveils New Blade, Cloud Computing Strategy

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HP this week announced a new cloud computing initiative designed to assist in building a own mini-cloud of a data center, complete with products and services for building out the center, not just delivering hardware.

HP’s latest blade system promises high performance computing beyond researchers and the military.

As part of the initiative, the company also introduced the first of what it promises will be many blade servers as it goes for a “blades everywhere” strategy. HP is enjoying great success, and IDC just reported that blade sales overall rose 53 percent in the past year, so it’s easy to see why.

“If you look at all of the innovations they’ve done in the server realm, almost all it has been in blades,” noted James Staten, senior analyst with Forrester Research. “Everyone is investing heavily in blades because it’s more efficient and because of their proprietary design.”

Blades are easier to cool because they are tilted vertically and the heat is easier to dissipate (much the same reason most desktop PC cases are towers). It’s also very hard to switch companies when you use blades, Staten noted, as each OEM has a different chassis, so you can’t use another vendor’s blades in the chassis, once you get started.

“It’s the value proposition,” Jim Ganthier, HP’s director of ESS blade marketing told of the popularity of blades. “Ultimately, people are realizing when you move to a bladed environment, you get the overall TCO aspects of ease of use and simplicity and operational aspects.”

He said due to the way blades are stacked, more can be placed in a rack than rack-mounted systems, 16 blades vs. 10 rack-mounted computers, he said.

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HP’s newest blade is the ProLiant BL2x220c G5, which works in both the high-end c7000 and SMB friendly c3000 HP chassis. The c7000 can hold 32 G5 blades while the c3000 can hold 16.

The blade is designed to hold a total of four Intel Xeon 5400 quad-core processors, laid out in such a way as to prevent overheating. “It’s totally different from others blades in that it’s double dense,” said Ganthier. “You get double the compute power and not have to double the power draw.”

The G5 will be part of HP’s renewed data center cloud computing push, to give customers a cloud computing effort in their own enterprise. The company is targeting three areas: enterprise high performance computing (HPC), Web 2.0/social networks, and data centers scaling out on a massive scale.

HP’s EYP group — a data center power and cooling specialist it acquired last year — has more than 30 million feet of data center design and will play a roll in helping customers design their data center for maximum efficiency. It’s a more holistic approach than before, where HP delivered the computer and someone else did the setup and design of the data center.

“You can’t just say ‘I have a product that works for you’,” said Ganthier. “You have to have a conversation that says we will help you design the operations for them, the power and cooling issues, the applications.”

Staten said HP’s plans will be a kind of mass market high performance computing service, but that kind of offering needs a lot of support. “They already provide their equipment to Web services companies that are building cloud computing platforms,” he said. “Now they are providing data center designs and layouts and power needs.”

The HP ProLiant BL2x220c G5 blade is available now at a starting price of $6,349.

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