HP Services Address Virtualization in x86 Data Centers

HP's new Critical Advantage services are designed to help companies that are moving their business-critical applications into virtualized environments.

Hewlett-Packard is unveiling a new set of services to help businesses that are growing their deployment of virtualization technologies in their x86-based data centers.

Called HP Critical Advantage, the services come as enterprises and smaller businesses are moving more of their mission-critical and production workloads onto virtual machines. Virtualizing the data center can help businesses reduce capital and operating expenses because fewer physical systems are needed, which reduces up-front costs as well as power and space expenditures; however, virtualization also can increase the complexity and management headaches for IT departments, according to HP.

"As enterprises virtualize their industry-standards-based environments to control costs and gain flexibility, they are realizing the vast complexities the technology can introduce," IDC analyst Matt Healey said in a statement. Extensive support systems such as HP's Critical Advantage "can improve availability and reduce downtime of business-critical applications so that clients can fully realize the potential of virtualization."

Gartner analysts in September said that businesses continue to grow their use of server-virtualization technologies. More than 80 percent of companies have a virtualization program or project under way, according to the research firm. Still, only 25 percent of server workloads currently are running on virtual machines, and Gartner analysts said businesses are going to need to invest in an IT architecture that can handle two to three times more virtual machines.

"Virtualization will continue as the highest-impact issue challenging infrastructure and operations through 2015, changing how you manage, how and what you buy, how you deploy, how you plan and how you charge," Philip Dawson, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement at the time.

Virtualization will continue to be a key storage technology in 2011.

All that will only add to the complexity already being created by the rapid adoption of virtualization, and it's these issues that HP's new services, unveiled Dec. 14, are targeting. The services are available immediately through HP's Technology Services business.

With more businesses putting more mission-critical workloads onto virtual machines in x86 environments, the need to avoid downtime becomes more apparent, according to HP officials. Through HP's Critical Advantage services, the vendor will assign a dedicated team of HP technicians to help businesses plan, deploy and manage their x86 virtualized environments.

By having this dedicated HP team focused on their virtualized environments, businesses can free up their own IT staff to focus more on innovative projects, HP officials said. The HP Global Mission Critical Solution Center offers business fast response and resolution to problems within the virtualized business-critical environments, which will help the companies reduce downtime.

Through the initiative, HP also offers a set of proactive services based on best practices for change management and improving processes to reduce unplanned downtime.

HP's Critical Advantage Flexible Proactive Services include performance and capacity analysis to help companies align their virtualization capacity with their business needs. Another service, Virtualization Readiness Workshop for Critical Applications, helps companies with infrastructure planning and assessment to ensure that they get the most out of their virtualization deployments. HP also helps businesses optimize their virtualized environments, ensuring that they get the maximum efficiency and minimum of downtime from their virtualized infrastructure.