HP Looks to Virtualization, Services to Help Enterprises

HP is bringing greater virtualization capabilities to some storage products as part of a larger offering of new products, services and financing options to help businesses control their data center spending. HP is also coming out with tiered levels of service, services for calculating ROI on consolidation and virtualization projects, and financing options to ease pressure on IT budgets.

Hewlett-Packard is rolling out a host of products, services and financing options aimed at helping enterprises reduce IT costs while giving them ways to buy technology in these recessionary times.

The goal is to help businesses prioritize their IT spending, optimize and automate their data center resources and outline options to best align IT with business needs, said Deborah Nelson, senior vice president of marketing for HP's Technology Solutions Group.

The moves, announced March 10, are in response to HP customers telling the vendor that data centers' budgets are being cut while demands on IT from the business side continues to grow, Nelson said. HP's program is designed to help businesses reduce those costs while setting themselves up for long-term strategic growth, she said.

On the product side, HP is unveiling the StorageWorks EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) 6400 and 8400, storage virtualization technology that will help enterprises lower storage administration costs by as much as 50 percent, she said. In addition, the company is upgrading its SAN Virtualization Services Platform 2.1, which grows storage capacity and speeds up the time needed for migration, replication, backup and bringing new applications online.

"This allows customers to put off future storage buys because they can better use what they have," Nelson said.

Enhanced HP Data Protector software and services gives businesses a single tool to protect data on both physical and virtual machines.

In addition, HP is rolling out new and enhanced services. HP's EDS unit, as part of its Applications Management Services portfolio, is offering businesses tiered levels of service. The most expensive levels can be used for the most mission-critical applications, while lower-cost alternatives are available for applications that are less critical. The service can reduce overall application maintenance costs by about 40 percent, Nelson said.

HP also is unveiling its Consolidation and Virtualization ROI services, which help businesses calculate the expected ROI on technology projects. In addition, Multi-Tiered Hybrid Design is a new service that gives enterprises the tools to design new data centers or retrofit existing ones to meet businesses needs while keeping costs down.

HP also is giving businesses more sourcing options through EDS' Managed Services and more flexible financing and leasing options through HP Financial Services.

Mitel Networks, an Ottawa-based IP communications solutions company, is relying a lot on HP technology as it works to consolidate two data centers into one. In August 2007, Mitel completed the purchase of Inter-Tel, which was based in Tempe, Ariz. Now Mitel is in the process of consolidating the Arizona data center into its Canadian operations.

"We want to reduce our operational costs, we want to [consolidate] two data centers from two entities into one, and at the point, we want to leverage virtualization a lot more," said Mark MacGowen, head of IT global services at Mitel.

The company started using virtualization technology four years ago, and over the years has worked with HP to consolidate workloads onto fewer and fewer physical machines, said MacGowen and David Grant, data center manager at Mitel.

Mitel has used HP's partitioning technology to consolidate HP-UX boxes, HP EVA products to bring virtualization into its storage environments and VMware products for virtualization on its x86 servers. Grant said the EVA storage offerings were easy to manage and let Mitel increase storage capacity without having to buy a lot of new systems.

Mitel has done four data center consolidation projects over the past four years, and has relied heavily on HP technology and virtualization, they said. Now the company is running as many as 200 to 250 virtual machines, and has adopted a virtualization-first policy.

"Unless there is a real solid reason not to, we will go virtualization first," Grant said.

It makes particular sense during these difficult economic times, when IT budgets are being cut while demand for services continues to grow.

"The current economy only exacerbates the situation," he said.

Mitel is about halfway through the process of consolidating the Arizona data center into the Canadian facility, MacGowen said. The company is taking advantage of HP financing options to refresh some of its technology and is relying on HP's c-Class server blades and virtualization offerings in the consolidation process.