HP, SAP Ink Deal to Better Optimize Apps on Hardware

HP will collaborate with SAP on research aimed at improving the efficiency of HP systems running SAP software.

What do "Shrek 2" and SAP have in common? A lot, according to Hewlett-Packard. The infrastructure hardware company announced Nov. 7 that it will collaborate with SAP on research aimed at improving the efficiency of HP systems running SAP software—or software components, as the case may be.

HP Labs developed technology to help DreamWorks, the studio that created the "Shrek" movies, scale its rendering capabilities by moving the necessary computing resources off-site to HP Labs. Rendering for "Shrek 2"—the process that converts animators computer-generated wire models into finished frames by adding details like color, light and texture—required a data center with 500 HP servers connected to the DreamWorks studio.

By putting the computing resources off-site and optimizing use, DreamWorks was able to draw on computing resources during crunch time and shutter the systems during off times.

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The same concepts apply to SAP and enterprise software, according to John Manley, director of utility computing at HP Labs, in Bristol, England.

"With animation, the requirements are very similar to whats done in SAP," said Manley. "An animator creates a model and needs to turn it into the final animated film. That process of turning it into a final animation of film is very, very highly computer-intensive, with lots of CPUs."

Manley gives the example of a midmarket customer running a supply chain management application. "You dont want all sorts of machines tied up to the supply chain, when youre not using the applications. You want to go to a service provider that can quickly as possible build the right supply chain management application that links into your database, so those machines can be closed down when theyre not in use," he said.

Manley said HPs goal with its Adaptive Enterprise model for computing—the notion behind Shreks rendering—is to get the concepts of ASP (aggregated service provider) right.

The general idea behind the ASP model—one that was propagated in the 1990s and, with little success in its own right, morphed into the idea of software as a service—is to share resources as efficiently as possible by letting another company run your software in their data centers. HP Labs too wants to share resources as efficiently as possible, according to Manley—not only on the hardware side, but on the software side as well.

Which is where SAP comes in.

But for the right ASP model, all the software and hardware have to be configured correctly for optimization. "And you have to put all the correctly configured software components onto the correctly configured machines," said Manley. "That is a massive task. Its part of the machinery that lies between what were doing with SAP."

Next Page: What the HP-SAP agreement covers.