Hewlett-Packard officials are unveiling the company’s upcoming ninth-generation ProLiant servers, which they say are the next steps in the vendor’s efforts to align its server strategy with the rapidly changing demands in the data center brought on by such trends as mobile computing, big data and the cloud.
During a Webcast event Aug. 28, HP officials—including CEO Meg Whitman—said the new systems will bring organizations three times the compute capacity of previous ProLiants, greater efficiency in processing multiple workloads, make infrastructure provisioning 66 times faster and drive down the cost of ownership. In addition, in combination with HP’s storage, memory and networking capabilities, workload performance of business-critical applications will be improved by four times, according to the company.
The x86 systems also will offer three times the performance-per-watt capabilities of previous generations, require 60 percent less space and lower storage acquisition costs by 80 percent, according to officials.
The ProLiant Gen 9 servers are part of HP’s larger effort to remake its server lineup to address the modern data center workloads, dovetailing with the company’s small and highly energy-efficient Moonshot systems for hyperscale environments and the Apollo supercomputers officials announced in June for high-performance computing (HPC) installations. In what officials are calling a new era of computing, data centers are moving away from compute, storage and networking silos and instead organizations need to view the data center as a pool of resources that can be configured to meet workload needs.
Capabilities within the new systems combined with such tools as OneView—which was introduced last year to give organizations a single tool for managing all of their data center resources—will be key to enabling such environments. Whitman said the data center needs to become a “software-defined environment.”
“It’s about delivering the right compute for the right workload at the right economics every time,” she said.
According to HP officials, customers are looking for systems that are increasingly optimized for particular workloads, and need greater agility, scalability and automation from their servers, to address applications from mobile computing to big data.
“The role of the server itself is changing,” John Gromala, senior director of hyperscale product management for HP Servers, told eWEEK. “We’re really at the point where we have to re-imagine the role of the server.”
From airlines using social networking to help customers book flights to more custom manufacturing to health care environments with a growing need for faster access to particular patient information, demands on servers are changing, Gromala said. HP and other OEMs need to offer systems that can adapt to the broad range of workload demands.
Such capabilities will be important in future years, given the rapid growth of trends like mobile computing. Bill Veghte, executive vice president and general manager of HP’s Enterprise Group, noted that by the end of the decade, there will be 10 million mobile apps, 30 billion mobile devices, and 40 trillion GB of data being generated by 8 billion people.
“The need of innovation has become more critical,” Veghte said.
HP’s ProLiant Gen 9 systems, along with the Moonshot and Apollo servers, will bring higher compute capabilities and less complexity at a lower overall cost, said Antonio Neri, senior vice president and general manager of servers and networking for the Enterprise Group. Harry Gunsallus, executive vice president and general manager for Redstone Federal Credit Union, said during the Webcast that the ProLiant Gen 9 systems will give his data center greater agility and flexibility as he wrestles with issues like mobility.
The credit union needs a flexible infrastructure “that we can tear down and build up in a matter of minutes,” Gunsallus said.
HP Unveils Next-Gen ProLiant Servers for Data Center Transformation
HP officials aren’t offering many details about the new servers now, saying more will be released during the Intel Developer Forum in September in San Francisco. A range of server OEMs will announce new systems during the show, when Intel executives are expected to officially take the wraps off the next-generation 22-nanometer Xeon E5 mainstream server chips, codenamed “Grantley,” which will be based on the “Haswell” architecture.
Among the technologies HP officials did talk about were integrating its PCI Express accelerators into the systems, as well as DDR4 SmartMemory and SmartCache for storage.
Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT Research, said HP’s efforts are in line with what he is seeing from other OEMs, including Dell, IBM and Cisco Systems, which also are dealing with the changes brought on by the cloud, big data, mobility and social computing.
“Those similarities aren’t a bad thing,” King said in an email to eWEEK. “They simply reflect overarching tech industry and related business trends, so if they were missing from HP’s strategy, I’d be concerned.”
He said HP’s products “look pretty solid.”
“As it has done previously, HP is using the shift to a new generation of silicon to rethink its platforms, from lower end tower and rack servers to blades and converged systems to emerging solutions like Apollo and Moonshot,” King wrote. “One of the most interesting things about these new solutions is how wholly their new features rest on HP’s proprietary technologies, particularly new networking and storage features, and management software offerings. There are certainly dedicated HP customers out there who will be happy to sign-on to vertically integrated solutions, but many of the businesses I talk with are avoiding single-vendor solutions. That could impact new HP effort, like the Apollo Systems for HPC and high density environments.”
HP’s announcement comes the same week that second-quarter numbers from Gartner and IDC found HP retaining the top spot in the worldwide server market for both shipments and revenues. The company was trailed by Dell and IBM—which is in the process of selling its x86 server business to Lenovo—as well as Cisco, which is seeing its server business grow rapidly being the strength of its Unified Computing System (UCS) integrated data center solution.