Tag Archives: HP

HP Converged Infrastructure

In the wake of the Cisco, EMC and VMware announcement, HP today is formally announcing the HP Converged Infrastructure.  You can take a look at the full details of this design on HP’s Website, but I wanted to try and simplify:

The HP Converged Infrastrcture is comprised of four core areas:

  • HP Infrastructure Operating Environment
  • HP FlexFabric
  • HP Virtual Resource Pools
  • HP Data Center Smart Grid

According to HP, achieving the benefits of a “converged infrastructure” requires the following core attributes:

  1. Virtualized pools of servers, storage, networking
  2. Resiliency built into the hardware, software, and operating environment
  3. Orchestration through highly automated resources to deliver an application aligned according to policies
  4. Optimized to support widely changing workloads and different applications and usage models
  5. Modular components built on open standards to more easily upgrade systems and scale capacity

Let’s take a peak into each of the core areas that makes up the HP Converged Infrastructure.

Operating EnvironmentHP Infrastructure Operating Environment
This element of the converged infrastructure provides a shared services management engine that adapts and provisions the infrastructure.  The goal of this core area is to expedite delivery and provisioning of the datacenter’s infrastructure. 

The HP Infrastructure Operating Environment is comprised of HP Dynamics – a command center that enables you to continuously analyze and optimize your infrastructure; and HP Insight Control– HP’s existing server management software.

FlexFabric

HP FlexFabric
HP defines this core area as  a “next-generation, highly scalable data center fabric architecture and a technology layer in the HP Converged Infrastructure.”  The goal of the HP FlexFabric is to create a highly scalable, flat network domain that enables administrators to easily provision networks as needed and on-demand to meet the virtual machines requirements. 

HP’s FlexFabric is made up of HP’s ProCurve line and their VirtualConnect technologies.  Beyond the familiar network components, the HP Procurve Data Center Connection Manager is also included as a fundamental component offering up automated network provisioning.

virtualResourcePools

HP Virtual Resource Pools
This core area is designed to allow for a virtualized collection of storage, servers and networking that can be shared, repurposed and provisioned as needed.

Most of HP’s Enterprise products fit into this core area.  The HP 9000 and HP Integrity servers use HP Global Workload Managerto provision workloads; HP Proliant servers can use VMware or Microsoft’s virtualization technologies and the HP StorageWorks SAN Virtualization Services
Platform
(SVSP) enables network-based (SAN) virtualization of heterogeneous disk arrays.

datacenter

HP Data Center Smart Grid
The goal of this last core area of the HP Converged Infrastructure is to “create an intelligent, energy-aware environment across IT and facilities to optimize and reduce energy use, reclaiming facility capacity and reducing energy costs.”

HP approaches this core area with a few different products.  The Proliant G6 server lines offer a “sea of sensors” that aid with the consumption of power and cooling.  HP also offers a Performance Optimized Datacenter (POD)– a container based datacenter that optimize power and cooling.    HP also uses the HP Insight Control software to manage the HP Thermal Logic technologies and control peaks and valleys of power management on servers.

Summary
In summary, HP’s Converged Infrastructure follows suit with what many other vendors are doing – taking their existing products and technologies and re-marketing them to closely align and reflect a more coherent messaging.  Only time will tell as to if this approach will be successful in growing HP’s business.

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What is the HP BladeSystem Matrix?

hpmatrix-webHP announced a while ago a new product they call the HP BladeSystem Matrix.  Okay, well, it’s not really a “product” as much as it is a solution.  HP calls the BladeSystem Matrix “a cloud infrastructure in a box” – which is a good way to look at it.  The infrastructure that is “the Matrix” is simply HP’s BladeSystem chassis, loaded with blade servers and attached to an HP storage SAN.  Add to the mix some automation, via templates, and you have the BladeSystem Matrix.  The secret behind this unique solution is the “Matrix Orchestration Environment“, which combines automated provisioning, capacity planning, and disaster recovery, with a self-service portal into one “command center.”  However, this is not a single software, but a combination of HP Insight Dynamics – VSE and Insight Orchestration .

What’s In a BladeSystem Matrix?

There are two options for the HP BladeSystem Matrix bundle – a Starter Kit and an Expansion Kit.  The Starter Kit is designed to include all of the infrastructure necessary to manage up to 16 blade servers, with the option of adding a HP StorageWorks EVA4400 SAN.   The HP BladeSystem Matrix Starter Kit (hardware components) contains:

  • HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure, single-phase, single-phase with 6 power supplies, 10 fans
  • HP BladeSystem c7000 Onboard Administrator with KVM option, redundant pair
    HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet modules, redundant pair
    NOTE: No transceivers/SFPs included so that you can choose these options – need to add to order.
  • HP Virtual Connect 8Gb 24-Port FC Module for BladeSystem c-Class, redundant pair
    NOTE: Two [2] Fibre Channel SFP+ transceivers included with each module; therefore, 4 total transceivers per redundant pair.
  • BladeSystem Matrix documentation CD
  • BladeSystem Matrix label attached to 10000 series rack door handle

The part number for HP BladeSystem Matrix Starter Kit (hardware components) is 535888-B21. It is important to note, the starter kit does not contain any blade servers or storage.  Those must be ordered separately.

The HP BladeSystem Matrix Starter Kit (software components) provides HP Insight software licenses for 1 enclosure / 16-server with standard 1 year 24×7 Technical Support and Update Service unless 3-, 4-, or 5-year Support Plus 24 Care Pack uplifts are purchased to increase support and update period. These licenses include:

  • Insight Dynamics – VSE suite for ProLiant with Insight Control suite
  • Insight Orchestration software
  • Insight Recovery software
  • Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager software
  • HP Insight Remote Support Advanced (formerly Remote Support Pack)

The part number for HP BladeSystem Matrix Starter Kit (software components) is TB462A.

Once you have the Hardware and Software Starter kits, then you’ll need to purchase the HP Professional Services – for installation; the Central Management Server (CMS) – a BL460 with 2 CPUs, 12GB RAM; additional blade servers and the storage that you need.

The HP BladeSystem Matrix Expansion Kit (HP part #507021-B21 ) is very similar to the Starter Kit:

  • HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure, single-phase, single-phase with 6 power supplies, 10 fans
  • HP BladeSystem c7000 Onboard Administrator with KVM option, redundant pair
    HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet modules, redundant pair
    NOTE: No transceivers/SFPs included so that you can choose these options – need to add to order.
  • HP Virtual Connect 8Gb 24-Port FC Module for BladeSystem c-Class, redundant pair
    NOTE: Two [2] Fibre Channel SFP+ transceivers included with each module; therefore, 4 total transceivers per redundant pair.
  • BladeSystem Matrix documentation CD
  • BladeSystem Matrix label attached to 10000 series rack door handle

However, it also includes software licenses for:

  • Insight Dynamics – VSE suite for ProLiant with Insight Control suite
  • Insight Orchestration software
  • Insight Recovery software
  • Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager software
  • HP Insight Remote Support Advanced (formerly Remote Support Pack)

Once again, you’ll need to purchase the HP Professional Services – for installation; then your blade servers and the storage that you need.

As you can see, the HP BladeSystem Matrix is not a new product – it is an easy way to order HP BladeSystem products and use HP services and software to easily get your server infrastructure in place.  Let me know your thoughts – feel free to leave comments.  For more on the HP BladeSystem Matrix, visit HP’s web site at http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/blades/components/matrix/main.html

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IBM Announces Emulex Virtual Fabric Adapter for BladeCenter…So?

Emulex Virtual Fabric AdapterEmulex and IBM announced today the availability of a new Emulex expansion card for blade servers that allows for up to 8 virtual nics to be assigned for each physical NIC.  The “Emulex Virtual Fabric Adapter for IBM BladeCenter (IBM part # 49Y4235)” is a CFF-H expansion card is based on industry-standard PCIe architecture and can operate as a “Virtual NIC Fabric Adapter” or as a dual-port 10 Gb or 1 Gb Ethernet card. 

When operating as a Virtual NIC (vNIC) each of the 2 physical ports appear to the blade server as 4 virtual NICs for a total of 8 virtual NICs per card.  According to IBM, the default bandwidth for each vNIC is 2.5 Gbps. The cool feature about this mode is that the bandwidth for each vNIC can be configured from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps, up to a maximum of 10 Gb per virtual port.  The one catch with this mode is that it ONLY operates with the  BNT Virtual Fabric 10Gb Switch Module, which provides independent control for each vNIC.  This means no connection to Cisco Nexus…yet.  According to Emulex, firmware updates coming later (Q1 2010??) will allow for this adapter to be able to handle FCoE and iSCSI as a feature upgrade.  Not sure if that means compatibility with Cisco Nexus 5000 or not.  We’ll have to wait and see.

When used as a normal Ethernet Adapter (10Gb or 1Gb), aka “pNIC mode“, the card can is viewed as a  standard 10 Gbps or 1 Gbps 2-port Ethernet expansion card.   The big difference here is that it will work with any available 10 Gb switch or 10 Gb pass-thru module installed in I/O module bays 7 and 9.

BladeCenter H I-O

So What?
I’ve known about this adapter since VMworld, but I haven’t blogged about it because I just don’t see a lot of value.  HP has had this functionality for over a year now in their VirtualConnect Flex-10  offering so this technology is nothing new.  Yes, it would be nice to set up a NIC in VMware ESX that only uses 200MB of a pipe, but what’s the difference in having a fake NIC that “thinks” he’s only able to use 200MB vs a big fat 10Gb pipe for all of your I/O traffic.  I’m just not sure, but am open to any comments or thoughts.

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What Gartner Thinks of Cisco, HP, IBM and Dell (UPDATED)

(UPDATED 10/28/09 with new links to full article)

I received a Tweet from @HPITOps linked to Gartner’s first ever “Magic Quadrant” for blade servers.  Gartner Magic Quadrant - October 2009The Magic Quadrant is a tool that Gartner put together to help people easily where manufacturers rank, based on certain criteria.  As the success of blade servers continues to grow, the demand for blades increases.  You can read the complete Gartner paper at http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/getdocument.aspx?docname=4AA3-0100ENW.pdf, but I wanted to touch on a few highlights.

Key Points

  • *Blades are less than 15% of the server marketplace today.
  • *HP and IBM make up 70% of the blade market share
  • *HP, IBM and Dell are classified as “Leaders” in the blade market place and Cisco is listed as a “Visionary” 

What Gartner Says About Cisco, Dell, HP and IBM

Cisco
Cisco announced their entry into the blade server market place in early 2009 and as of the past few weeks began shipping their first product.  Gartner’s report says, “Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) is highly innovative and is particularly targeted at highly integrated and virtualized enterprise requirements.”  Gartner currently views Cisco as being in the “visionaries” quadrant.  The report comments that Cisco’s strengths are:

  • they have a  global presence in “most data centers”
  • differentiated blade design
  • they have a cross-selling opportunity across their huge install base
  • they have strong relationships with virtualization and integration vendors

As part of the report, Gartner also mentions some negative points (aka “Cautions”) about Cisco to consider:

  • Lack of blade server install base
  • limited blade portfolio
  • limited hardware certification by operating system and application software vendors

Obviously these Cautions are based on Cisco’s newness to the marketplace, so let’s wait 6 months and check back on what Gartner thinks.

Dell
No stranger to the blade marketplace, Dell continues to produce new servers and new designs.  While Dell has a fantastic marketing department, they still are not anywhere close to the market share that IBM and HP split.  In spite of this, Gartner still classifies Dell in the “leaders” quadrant.  According to the report, “Dell offers Intel and AMD Opteron blade servers that are well-engineered, enterprise-class platforms that fit well alongside the rest of DelI’s x86 server portfolio, which has seen the company grow its market share steadily through the past 18 months.

The report views that Dell’s strengths are:

  • having a cross-selling opportunity to sell blades to their existing server, desktop and notebook customers
  • aggressive pricing policies
  • focused in innovating areas like cooling and virtual I/O

Dell’s “cautions” are reported as:

  • having a limited portfolio that is targeted toward enterprise needs
  • bad history of “patchy committment” to their blade platforms

It will be interesting to see where Dell takes their blade model.  It’s easy to have a low price model on entry level rack servers, but in a blade server infrastructure where standardization is key and integrated switches are a necessity having the lowest pricing may get tough.

IBM
Since 2002, IBM has ventured into the blade server marketplace with an wide variety of server and chassis offerings.  Gartner placed IBM in the “leaders” quadrant as well, although they place IBM much higher and to the right signifying a “greater ability to execute” and a “more complete vision.”  While IBM once had the lead in blade server market share, they’ve since handed that over to HP.  Gartner reports, “IBM is putting new initiatives in place to regain market share, including supply chain enhancements, dedicated sales resources and new channel programs. 

The report views that IBM’ strengths are:

  • strong global market share
  • cross selling opportunities to sell into existing IBM System x, System i, System p and System z customers
  • broad set of chassis options that address specialized needs (like DC power & NEBS compliance for Telco) as well as Departmental / Enterprise
  • blade server offerings for x86 and Power Processors
  • strong record of management tools
  • innovation around cooling and specialized workloads

Gartner only lists one “caution” for IBM and that is their loss of market share to HP since 2007.

HP
Gartner identifies HP as being in the farthest right in the October 2009 Magic Quadrant, therefore I’ll classify HP as being the #1 “leader.”  Gartner’s report says, “Since the 2006 introduction of its latest blade generation, HP has recaptured market leadership and now sells more blade servers than the rest of the market combined.”  Ironically, Gartner list of HP’s strengths is nearly identical to IBM:

  • global blade market leader
  • cross selling opportunities to sell into existing HP server, laptop and desktop customers
  • broad set of chassis options that address Departmental and Enterprise needs
  • blade server offerings for x86 and Itanium Processors
  • strong record of management tools
  • innovation around cooling and virtual I/O

Gartner only lists one “caution” for HP and that is their portfolio, as extensive as it may be, could be considered too complex and it could be too close to HP’s alternative, modular, rack-based offering.

Gartner’s report continues to discuss other niche players like Fujitsu, NEC and Hitachi, so if you are interesting in reading about them, check out the full report at 

http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/getdocument.aspx?docname=4AA3-0100ENW.pdf.  All-in-all, Gartner’s report reaffirms that HP, IBM and Dell are the market leaders, for now, with Cisco coming up behind them.

Feel free to comment on this post and let me know what you think.

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HP's Well Hidden Secret Blade Server

bl2x220cg5

BL2x220c G5 (2 server "nodes" shown)

HP’s BladeSystem server offering is quite extensive – everything from a 4 CPU Intel blade to an Itanium CPU blade, however their most well hidden, secret blade is their BL2x220c blade server.  Starting at $6,129, this blade server is an awesome feet of design because it is not just 1 server, it is 2 serversin 1 blade case – in a clam shell design (see below).  This means that in a HP C7000 BladeSystem chassis you could have 32 servers!    That’s 64 CPUs, 256 CORES, 2TB of RAM all in a 10U rack space.  That’s pretty impressive.  Let me break it down for you.  Each “node” on a single 2 node BL2x220c G5 server contains:

  • Up to two Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® 5400 sequence processors
  • Up to 32 GB (4 x 8 GB) of memory, supported by (4) slots of PC2-5300 Registered DIMMs, 667 MHz
  • 1 non-hot plug small form factor SATA or Solid State hard drive
  • Embedded Dual-port NC326i Gigabit Server Adapter
  • One (1) I/O expansion slots via mezzanine card
  • One (1) internal USB 2.0 connector for security key devices and USB drive keys

BL2x220

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may have noticed that this server is a “G5” version and currently has the older Intel 5400 series processors.  Based on HP’s current blade offering, expect to see HP refresh of this server to a “G6” model that will contain the Intel® Xeon® 5500 series processors.  Once that happens, I expect for more memoryslots to come with it, since the Intel® Xeon® 5500 series processors have 3 memory channels.  I’m guessing 12 memory slots “per node” or 24 memory slots per BL2x220c G6.  Purely speculation on my part, but it would make sense.  

Why do I consider this server to be one of HP’s best hidden secrets?  Simply because with that amount of server density, server processing power and server memory, the BL2x220c could become a perfect virtualization server.   Now if they’d only make a converged network adapter (CNA)…

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