ProLiant Features Expanded

HP adds network cards to server line.

Continuing its push to make IT infrastructures easier and less expensive to run, Hewlett-Packard Co. in May will begin shipping its ProLiant servers with multifunctional network adapter cards and smaller hard drives.

In addition, the servers will offer greater data protection through support for RAID 6.

The moves are designed to simplify the infrastructure and improve manageability in the data center, according to Paul Perez, vice president of storage, networking and infrastructure for HPs ProLiant servers.

The new capabilities will begin appearing in the ProLiant systems, which run on processors from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Perez said.

Over the next 12 months, the features will be offered in all servers in HPs ProLiant, Itanium-based Integrity, BladeSystem and StorageWorks systems.

Kelly Quinn, an analyst with IDC, said the new features are another step in HPs goals to increase the amount of standardization in its server lines.

"The way to accelerate the adoption [of technology products] is through standards," said Quinn in Framingham, Mass. "Its common sense that if you go to market with a proprietary platform, you will not do well, so this is a good sign."

The ProLiant news follows HPs announcement in January that the company is integrating Cisco Systems Inc.s Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module into its BladeSystem chassis, Quinn said.

The new multifunctional adapter card will bring networking, storage and clustering features onto a single connection point, Perez said. The cards have been shipped to five beta customers, and HP is expanding that beta program, he said.

In addition, the Santa Clara, Calif., company has been working with partners such as Broadcom Corp. and Seagate Technology LLC to build smaller industry-standard hard drives. Currently, HP systems ship with 3.5-inch hard drives. The new 2.5-inch drives will enable the company to put more drives—from 33 percent to 50 percent—into the systems, which Perez said could improve throughput by as much as four times.

The new drives will be based on the SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) interface, which Perez said combines the best of Fibre Channel and SCSI. By next year, SAS will become the standard interface in HP systems, and it also is compatible with cheaper Serial ATA, which will give users more options, he said.

The RAID 6 support built on Advanced Data Guarding technology from HP offers two drives and gives greater protection to stored information. RAID 6 offers two parity drives, which provide backup information that supports the active drives in the storage array.

Keeping it simple

HP is adding new capabilities to its ProLiant systems

  • Multifunctional network adapter cards for simplified management
  • Smaller hard drives based on the SAS interface
  • RAID 6 support for greater data protection