HP Enters PC Blade Space

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2003-12-04

HP Enters PC Blade Space

Hewlett-Packard Co. on Thursday is unveiling a host of virtualization technologies designed to enable enterprises to increase the utilization and ease the management of their data center resources.

Included in the host of announcements is the Palo Alto, Calif., companys entrance into the PC blade space with its Consolidated Client Infrastructure. The technology will enable customers to use a traditional PC or thin client on the desktop, but tie the boxes to PC blades hosted in a rack in the data center via standard Ethernet connectivity. Those blades will house the crucial data and applications that currently reside on the PCs themselves.

"With virtualization, the approach is to pool together and share resources to increase utilization and meet the demand" put on the IT infrastructure by a customers business needs, said Mark Hudson, vice president of HPs enterprise storage and servers

Virtualizing the data center is one of the pillars of the utility computing pushes by vendors such as Computer Associates International Inc., HP, IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc., according to one analyst. It makes data center resources more flexible and responsive to business demands and enables enterprises to cut IT costs. HPs virtualization rollout—which adds to the capabilities in its Utility Data Center offering—comes three weeks after HP announced a series of management software and services, all of which falls under its Adaptive Enterprise umbrella.

"We view virtualization as a very important component to developing an adaptive enterprise," Hudson said. "What were doing here is putting some meat on the bone."

Jean Bozman, an analyst with International Data Corp., agreed.

"All the big vendors see that, in order to get to utility computing, there are several steps youve got to take, and the first is virtualization," said Bozman, in San Jose, Calif. "Virtualization is really an absolutely essential step to making true utility computing happen."

Next page: HP expands pay-per-use billing offerings.

Page Two

HP officials on Thursday announced that they are broadening their pay-per-use billing offering to the companys 64-bit Itanium-based Integrity servers—the Superdome, rx8620 and rx7620 systems—and to its imaging and printing products, enabling users to pay only for the resources they use. Its HP-UX Workload Manager software will enable IT administrators to shift resources such as processing power and memory between virtual partitions in a single server. In addition, HP is expanding its Serviceguard high-availability software to support Linux in its Integrity servers, Serviceguard extensions for SAP AG applications for Linux and for failover, HP Enterprise Cluster Master Toolkit, and software to enable continuous access to the companys StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array systems.

The Consolidated Client Infrastructure PC blade environment is part of what Hudson calls "integrated virtualization," or bringing together multiple resources, such as servers, desktops and storage. HP becomes the second real player—with ClearCube Technology Inc., of Austin, Texas—in the PC blade space. ClearCube is expanding its portfolio by enabling multiple users on a single blade via Ethernet connection, rather than the usual analog or fiber-optic connection. The move also will reduce the cost of its blade environments, which are powered by Intel Corp.s Pentium 4 chips.

HPs PC blades, which will be available in March, will be powered by Transmeta Corp.s new Efficeon chips running at more than 1GHz, HP officials said. Aimed at corporations with more than more than 1,000 seats, the architecture is designed to ease management of an enterprises desktops while increasing security. Rather than storing important data or applications on the desktop or notebook PC, all that is stored on a back-end blade. Those are the same goals as thin-client devices, although those environments offer many users accessing individual servers, rather than having a blade dedicated to a single user.

In addition, HP is extending its Capacity on Demand offering to its ProLiant blade servers, Hudson said. Users will be able to buy racks of blades with only a portion of them activated. If more server capacity is needed, the user can crank up an inactive blade, paying only for those used. HP also is introducing Virtual Server Environment Quick Start solutions for BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic application server and Oracle Corp.s 9i database in a virtualized environment. In addition, a Serviceguard extension for Oracles 9i Real Application Cluster software will enable users to virtualize applications, databases, servers and storage devices between two data centers, bringing those resources into a single virtual pool.

HP also is offering four service tiers at a price-per-mailbox for employee messaging and automated billing and reporting for IT services, part of the companys managed services offerings.

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