With the introduction of new high-performance computing platforms aimed at companies with 100 to 999 employees, Hewlett-Packard is trying to bring supercomputers into the mainstream.
The new HP Cluster Platform Workgroup System, announced Nov. 13 at the Supercomputing 2007 show in Reno, Nev., is an out-of-the-box system that comes complete with servers, interconnects, optional storage, power and cooling management and a variety of software. It is based on HPs BladeSystem c3000, nicknamed "Shorty," which combines a modular server and a blade server enclosure.
HP also announced the HP ProLiant DL160 G5, a rack server priced at less than $1,500 designed for compute-intensive environments and optimized for high-performance applications.
Finally, HP introduced "solution blocks"—preconfigured applications built around the CP Workgroup System for specific segments. The first two out of the gate target CAE (computer-aided engineering) and materials science. The goal, said Alanna Dwyer, marketing manager for high-performance computer solutions at HP, is to help smaller companies save time and money by having systems ready to go while increasing productivity in simulation and modeling to reduce total cost of ownership.
Making them easy to use is key in all systems aimed at this segment, Dwyer said.
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"We recognize that the IT needs of a large Fortune 500 company may be different from the needs of a 100-person company," she said. "Unlike larger enterprises, where high-performance computing experts are usually on hand to help implement them, midsized organizations need to have easy deployment without the hassle or complexity involved with a large enterprise deployment."
As with other major OEMs like Dell and IBM, HP has been pushing to expand its presence in companies of this size. Like the ProLiant line of servers, Simply StorageWorks family of storage products and, of course, Shorty, these products are aimed squarely at SMBs (small and midsize businesses).
Thats a smart move, because the midmarket is where much of the growth is, said Rob Enderle, an analyst with The Enderle Group.
"The midmarket has been willing to buy where enterprises have been slower to do so, so youre seeing moves like this from several large vendors," Enderle said. "[Top-tier OEMS] realize that they have economies of scale that some of the smaller server [vendors] dont, and that if they can apply those economies of scale to this segment, they should be able to fan sales to it."
HP isnt the only large vendor focused on this segment, though Enderle believes HP may have the advantage over rivals like IBM.
"This is where HP having a broad-based portfolio will help them a lot, because it should give them better economies of scale than IBM. And because HP has retained its PC entity, it gives them better volume pricing on components, which should result in HP being able to price more competitively," he said.
IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo in 2005.
But no matter who wins the battle for high-performance computing in the midmarket, one thing is clear, said Enderle: "This is an area that will be very hard-fought."
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