HP Converged Infrastructure Push Includes Servers, Networking, Storage

HP addresses cloud and virtualized environments with a new c-Class enclosure, and BYOD concerns with networking and management offerings.

Hewlett-Packard officials are looking to expand their converged infrastructure offerings with new blade server, networking and storage offerings to deal with such data center trends as cloud, big data, mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

HP unveiled the new products Feb. 19 during its annual Global Partner Conference, two days before rival VCE—a partnership between Cisco Systems, VMware and EMC—introduced midrange versions of its own Vblock converged infrastructure offerings.

The expanded offerings illustrate the increasing competition in the data center as more vendors look to offer businesses more complete end-to-end IT solutions—including converged infrastructures—that include everything from servers and storage to networking, virtualization and software. HP, a veteran of this space, made some strong moves with its new offerings, which is needed in a space where competition is coming from the likes of IBM and Cisco, according to Richard Fichera, a Forrester analyst.

"From a competitive standpoint, HP's improvements shore up some critical shortcomings and will make it that much more difficult for competitors to displace HP on a technology feature basis," Fichera said in post on the Forrester blog site, noting that "with three dominant world-class system suppliers (and enough second-tier competition to avoid any chance of oligopolistic behavior) competing for the fastest-growing segment of the x86 market, it will remain intensely competitive and richly rewarding to customers for the foreseeable future."

Among the key announcements are HP's new BladeSystem c7000 Platinum enclosure, an update of the c-Class enclosure the tech giant first introduced in 2006. The new enclosure—which provides the power, cooling and I/O infrastructure for servers, networking and storage devices—offers improved performance and availability of resources in virtualized and cloud computing environments, as well as better networking capabilities.

The 10U (17.5-inch) enclosure can hold up to 16 server blades or storage blades—or a combination of both—as well as optional network and storage interconnect modules. The new c7000 Platinum enclosure will save businesses as much as 68 percent in operating costs in the data center, and offers a 40 percent increase in bandwidth over HP's previous c-Class enclosures, according to Paul Birney, director of blade and cloud product marketing for HP's Industry Standard Servers and Software unit.

The enclosure also comes with HP's new SX1018 Ethernet switch, which is four times faster than previous switches, Birney said. HP is the first to bring 40GB downlinks to each blade server, which will be important in such environments as high-performance computing or financial services workloads, which demand both high bandwidth and low latency, he said. Forrester's Fichera applauded the move.

"Each blade can have up to two 40-G bit mezzanine adapters, which when combined with the embedded 2x10-G-bit FlexNICs can provide up to 100 G bits of connectivity to a single blade," he said in his blog post. "While we don't expect HP to be alone for long, this is a major advance for bandwidth-hungry applications."

HP's Birney said that the company is "eight years into the life of the c-Class [enclosure], and we're still innovating and still going strong."