HP Tools Ease Data Center Burdens

New software management tools, which can be deployed across HP's x86 ProLiant and BladeSystem servers, keep track of assets within an enterprise's data center.

Hewlett-Packard on Jan. 16 is scheduled to unveil a series of software management tools designed to keep track of assets within an enterprises data center.

The new software, which includes improvements to HPs Insight Control Environment, Systems Insight Manager and Insight Power Manager, will work with the companys x86 line of servers, which includes the HP ProLiant and BladeSystem systems. The software will also work with Microsoft Windows, Linux and Unix operating systems.

These software offerings are all part of the Palo Alto, Calif., companys Unified Infrastructure Management portfolio, which falls under HPs Adaptive Infrastructure program. This program, which brings together hardware, software and services, is HPs effort to address data center issues in a more holistic and flexible way.

"When you look at the proliferation of a data centers assets and then try to manage all those assets, it really starts to become a burden," said Paul Miller, vice president of marketing for industry-standard servers and BladeSystem at HP.

To address those issues, HP is preparing to release five new software packages that IT mangers can buy either as a single suite of products or purchase individually, depending on an administrators needs.

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The Insight Control Environment gives IT administrators the ability to monitor a data centers ProLiant ML and DL servers. This also allows the administrator to control power management, performance management, and vulnerability and path management, through HPs Systems Insight Manager, a hardware management suite.

In addition to the Insight Control Environment, HP is offering an updated version of its Systems Insight Manager—Version 5.1—which now includes contract and warranty reporting.

The Insight Power Manager, another piece of software, will report power consumption and the datas centers inlet air temperature at either the rack level or throughout the entire center. This software also allows the administrator to control power to certain areas of the data center and set parameters for the use of power.

In addition, HP is offering what it bills as a hardware "phone home" service for ProLiant or Linux-based Integrity servers. This Service Essentials Remote Support Pack, when combined with the Systems Insight Manager, allows HP to monitor assets and will alert the company to check for warranties and respond to inquiries from customers, such as requests for replacement parts.

Finally, the company is rolling out Insight Control Linux Edition, which is a replacement for HP Control Tower, a management suite specially designed for Linux machines and blades. HP first started using Control Tower when it acquired the technology through its 2005 purchase of RLX Technologies.

Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata in Nashua, N.H., said that HP has been able to stay ahead of other OEMs by offering a series of management tools that can be viewed and administered from a single console. While he categorized the software updates as an "incremental" step in data center management, he noted that HP appears to be a step ahead of the competition in this area, where service has become a top priority.

"A lot of this is HPs push to be more service-focused, and thats what is selling these days," Eunice said. "This is an age where people dont want to do things; they just want it done."

In one way, HP is trying to catch up to IBM, which released its own storage and server management package called Virtual Manager dashboard on Nov. 2. However, Eunice believes that HP has not only caught up with its main rival but also surpassed it with the new features found in these software updates.

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All of the software is immediately available for order, except the Service Essentials Remote Support Pack, which will be available in March.

The Insight Control Environment for HP ProLiant ML or DL servers cost $549, the HP Insight Power Manager costs $99, and the HP Insight Control Linux Edition costs $199.

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