As CIOs review budgets, they always want to reduce the amount of money in the “sunk” part of the budget to increase the amount in the innovation and forward-thinking part of the budget. For a long time, data center costs have consumed a major portion of these sunk costs as organizations spent money maintaining legacy environments and as staff is hired to manage these increasingly complex environments.
Today, that problem is being attacked from multiple angles, and CIOs now have ample opportunity to considered converged infrastructure solutions. For those interested in hyperconverged appliance-based infrastructure, read the Wikibon article VMware VSAN vs the Simplicity of Hyperconvergence. Although the idea of hyperconvergence is gaining serious traction, other approaches to infrastructure are also getting attention. HP recently spent a lot of time discussing its approach to the problem and unveiled its lineup of convergence solutions aimed at simplifying the data center. That simplification is one of the primary methods by which organizations can reduce spend on the data center.
HP’s ConvergedSystem line of products is broken down into five distinct product groups, each targeted at a different purpose. As I look at this structure, I do see one challenge that CIOs will need to consider. HP has fractured the converged system lineup into product niches. For example, one solution is designed for server virtualization and a another for client virtualization with yet another designed for big data needs. Each of these areas requires a different kind of solution, but I wonder if HP could have created a more generic, flexible solution that would not result in resource islands (or even the perception of) in the data center.
That said, HP is taking a very different approach to some of these solutions. The sections below provide brief look at each segment. I won’t be covering the cloud portion of the ConvergedSystems portfolio below, but I do provide a high level overview of the other areas.
It’s clear that HP is taking aim at Dell and VCE with its new offerings. HP’s ConvergedSystem 300 supports between 50 and 300 virtual machines, and HP indicates that the solution can be installed into production within 20 days, and that it lowers entry price by 25%. The ConvergedSystem 700 supports from 100 to 1,000 machines, can be in production within 30 days and reduces data center TCO by 28%. Of course, the number of possible running virtual machines, actual deployment times, and savings will always be dependent on what the customer is doing with the solution.
The 300 leverages between three and eight HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 Servers, HP’s StoreVirtual VSA, and HP Networking 2920-48G or 5900AF-48G switches. The 700 uses 4 -16 BL460C Gen8 blade servers with 256 GB of memory for virtualization hosts plus two DL360P Gen 8 rack mounted servers with 256GB of memory for management servers. In addition, as the “big” solution, it uses HP 3PAR StoreServe 7200 2-node storage with 36 x 15k 300k drives in the base configuration (10.8TB) but is expandable to up to 144 total disk (43.2TB). On the networking front, the 700 uses HP Virtual Connect Flex Fabric, HP 5900 series top of rack switches.
Just like Vblock and Dell's Active Systems, HP has created combinations of existing hardware and software and is bundling them as single SKU, single point of support systems. This certainly helps customers address the complexity of building new environments as all of the components from HP will be pretested, and customers will simply flip the switch to turn on the system. This eliminates a big part of moving to a new environment – pilot testing. It also creates a simpler environment to manage, further reducing total cost of ownership.
For client virtualization
VDI has been a tough issue for many. There are horror stories about impacted end-user experience due to resource contention. Rather than take the fully virtual approach which calls for a lot of processor and GPU sharing, HP has decided to leverage its Moonshot technology in an effort to solve the endpoint problem. Due to the system architecture, the HP ConvergedSystem 100 for Hosted Desktops provides a dedicated CPU and GPU for every user to deliver consistent performance as well as a rich multimedia experience.
Moreover, HP indicates that its solution avoids the need to pay for a hypervisor to support client needs and that a single 4.3U chassis can support up to 180 clients. If HP can deliver on reducing the licensing complexity that can plague VDI implementation while still being somewhat cost neutral (or positive) as opposed to traditional desktops, it will have a compelling solution on its hands.
For those who want to implement more traditional virtual desktop solutions, HP provides a Client Virtualization SMB Reference Architecture for Windows Server 2012 as well as for VMware View.
For big data
Even if you’re sick of hearing about it, big data is here to stay and it looks a whole lot different than traditional server environments. In addition, virtualization is not always included as a part of big data solutions as these kinds of applications are resource intensive and often require massive processing, RAM, and storage performance capabilities. Such environments are often best created atop physical systems that are implemented with scaling technologies.
HP provides four solutions in this lineup:
- ConvergedSystem 300 for Vertica,
- Converged Infrastructure for Microsoft SQL,
- ConvergedSystem for SAP HANA,
- Converged Infrastructure for SAS Visual Analytics.
HP provides various configurations inside each of these categories. For example, for SAP HANA deployments, it ofers single-node, scale-out, and SME options, and each is customizable.
Microsoft continues to play a major role in collaboration. To that end, HP has created tailored solutions for Exchange, Lync and SharePoint.
These solutions are also combinations of existing hardware and software bundled with HP consulting services to get the solutions launched. I do not expect that these solutions would carry the lowest price tag, particularly with the bundled services, but I do expect that HP would do the job right, which is really the end goal in any project.
Action Item: For CIOs considering converged solutions, HP is offering some compelling solutions that should be considered. HP certainly has a portfolio with breadth and depth in its offerings and has crafted solutions that can help CIOs refocus efforts away from big iron and more on big solutions. At the same time, with all-HP stack, Dell and VCE should be concerned about renewed focus from HP.