HP Gen8 server and Intel E5: A partnership demonstrating new ways to simplify IT

I’ve been writing about how important it is for CIOs and other IT leaders to simplify their entire infrastructure environment in order to reduce the amount of care and feeding that goes into infrastructure in favor of activities that provide a direct bottom line benefit.  This week, I’m attending an event at HP’s Houston offices where a group of people are being pitched on HP’s latest generation of servers powered by Intel’s E5 processor line.

HP is putting to market products that help strapped IT departments do more with less and that will allow CIOs to focus more of their team’s efforts squarely on business problems.

How are they doing this?

With the release of their Gen8 ProLiant server line, a culmination of more than $300 million in R&D spending, HP is boasting some impressive statistics which, if borne out, demonstrate the company’s commitment to IT and data center efficiency.  Here’s a look at the outcomes that HP is touting and how they’re getting to these impressive figures.

  • 3x admin productivity improvement.
  • 6x performance increase for most demanding workloads
  • 70% more compute per watt.  This statistic is vitally important for those running space or power constrained data centers.  This allows these organizations to get more “compute for the buck” without having to do a major data center expansion.
  • 66% faster time to resolution.  Through the company’s Insight Online and ability for servers to report inventory and status information to a support site, trouble resolution can be done in a fraction of the time that it used to take.  Considering the high cost of downtime and the associated stress on IT staff that have to correct the situation creating the downtime, this is a substantial improvement with direct customer benefit.  Gen8 servers all include a number of different sensors and intelligence to report when a sensor is out of baseline.

Of course, HP wouldn’t be able to make these claims if it wasn’t for their deep partnership with Intel.  Intel targeted their new E5 processor squarely at the DL380 use case, primarily since the DL380 is the most popular workhorse server on the market.  As a company, Intel made the decision that they were going to develop a processor that would meet and exceed all requirements of the use cases satisfied through the deployment of DL380 servers.

To that end, HP and Intel are seeing a number of gains from the E5 line:

  • 80% performance gain
  • Trusted security
  • Integrated PCI Express on the processor
  • 40 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3 on each processor socket (80 for a dual socket system)
  • More processing cores
  • Tons of bandwidth between processors

What’s really happening here is that HP is considering the full spectrum of servers and service when it comes to how customers benefit from and are affected by the company’s products.   Jim Ganthier, HP Vice President Marketing, Operations and GM, Mainstream Business Enterprise, wants customers to think of HP’s Gen8 products not as individual islands of resources but as “Lego” blocks that come to together to build a better whole.  From this building block approach comes new intelligence and automation benefits across the lifecycle and the data center, empowering administrators and enabling these same administrators to do their jobs more effectively.

Through the aforementioned Insight Online tool – HP’s fully reconceptualized support portal:

  • Customers can see exactly what servers are in inventory and what servers have reported problems.
  • Current warranty status is included warranty status.
  • This service does not carry an additional cost.  It’s included in the server purchase.
    • Helps support more quickly respond to customer issues.
    • Provides better reactive support.
    • Proactive support
      • Periodic environment scans and remediation suggestions

HP has even streamlined the process of handling firmware updates, which they discovered were taking as much as 69% of administrator’s system maintenance time.  Through a tool the company calls Smart Update, updates can now be performed at a data center scale 3X faster than before and with a corresponding 69% reduction in operator time.

All of this technical stuff is really, really cool.  But, from a business sense, it’s even better.  HP is building into their product DNA the idea that simplicity needs to be a feature, not an afterthought.  From the floor to the ceiling of the Gen8 product line, this idea of simplicity and ease of management is evident, from the new tools that I mentioned to the fact that a new 2U Gen8 server can be torn down in minutes with no tools required. These kinds of capabilities make system maintenance a breeze and enable CIOs to spend less time on infrastructure maintenance and more time on service availability and value-add activities.