HP Takes Data Center Transformation Services on the Road

Using their own experiences in consolidating 85 data centers into six, HP officials have spent the past year meeting with customers to help them start thinking about what is involved in transforming their data centers into dynamic, efficient and cost-effect facilities. Most customers talk about virtualization and cloud computing, but HP officials say there is a lot more to it than that.

MARLBOROUGH, Mass.-Three years ago, Hewlett-Packard officials announced an ambitious data center consolidation plan that would reduce the number of facilities worldwide from 85 to six.

The project not only has given HP a much more cost-effective, efficient and dynamic data center environment, but it also has become a showcase for the company's technologies that could be showed off to customers and other businesses. HP officials also believe it gives them greater credibility through their own experience when talking about data center transformation with customers.

That is a key part of a data transformation road show that HP officials have put together to show customers the key steps in moving to a more dynamic, energy-efficient and cost-effective data center, and a show that some officials put together for a handful of journalists and analysts recently at their campus here.

"This is a knowledge show," said Mark Grindle, master business consultant for HP's data center transformation solutions infrastructure practice. "It's what we experienced. It's what we went through."

For HP, the results have been good, Grindle and others said. Among the key results was that HP was able to cut in half-from 4 percent to 2 percent-the percentage of revenues that HP has to spend on IT every year. That's a significant change for a company that had $118 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2008.

In IT spending, HP went from spending about 70 percent of its IT budget on maintaining what it had to 80 percent on new innovations and projects.

Those are the types of results that businesses throughout the world are looking for, said Joseph Bottazzi, vice president and general manager of HP Services.

"Data center transformation ... is hot on people's minds," Bottazzi said. "I see that throughout the Americas."

Getting to that point is not easy, however, and is more than just whittling down the amount of IT hardware or applications that reside in the data center, said John Bennett, worldwide director of HP's Data Center Technology Solutions business. A key challenge is resolving what Bennett calls the "contradictory imperatives" facing modern IT departments: Support business growth and projects and mitigate risk, while at the same time reducing costs.

Grindle and other HP officials have given 143 of these data transformation presentations to businesses around the world over the past year, and have another 86 scheduled. They usually involve seven to 10 customers, and rather than PowerPoint presentations, HP sets up 10 boards-about 6-feet tall-that touch on the various aspects any transformation project needs to consider, from setting the scene, governance and the transformation journey to business outcomes and transforming facilities, infrastructure, applications and management.

Customers are asked about technologies such as virtualization, new computing models such as cloud computing, the need for IT professionals to be able to show business executives how the company will get a return on the money they spend on the project, what the goals of the project are, and what skills IT folks will need to have once the project is completed. It hits on everything from technologies to management to communications.

The goal is have them think about all that's involved in such a project, Grindle said. Too many times they look only at the infrastructure and facilities, and don't understand everything else that goes into it.

"It's more now," Grindle said. "It's a bigger picture, rather than just virtualizing [the data center]."