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How HP blade servers meet the demands of the evolving data centre

HP blade servers are playing an increasingly important role in supporting the evolving software defined data centre (SDDC) as hardware that can be efficiently controlled by infrastructure management consoles.

This HP whitepaper looks at how the recently launched HP OneView infrastructure management system for cloud and virtualised systems will further put HP blades at the centre of more efficient, business flexible SDDCs.

According to analyst IDC, HP blade servers (built around the HP BladeSystem offering) can reduce your data centre costs by up to 68 per cent, according to a study of HP customers, and some customers realised a payback on their investment in just seven months.

IDC also found that just two HP BladeSystem Virtual Connect FlexFabric modules can also reduce networking components by up to 95 per cent, lower hardware costs by up to 65 per cent, and reduce your power and cooling costs by up to 40 per cent.

HP blades are designed to take advantage of open networking with the flexibility to work with existing hardware. To further the support for open standards in computing and storage in the data centre HP recently launched HP OneView. It is designed to help simplify the most basic steps that underlay all data centre processes, allowing IT teams to dramatically improve operations while reducing costs and manual errors that cause downtime.

The proliferation of as-a-service technology, an influx of tech-savvy workers and an increase in business complexity is widening the gap between business demand and traditional IT supply. Organisations are now struggling to deliver and manage IT using outdated management tools that were designed for a past era.

Designed for the HP BladeSystem, HP ProLiant Generation 8 (Gen8) and HP ProLiant Generation 7 servers, along with the recently launched Gen9 servers, HP OneView offers a single management platform to foster collaboration and communication for IT across the data centre.

With HP OneView the most common data centre processes, such as deployment, updating, migrating and troubleshooting are reduced from hours or days to minutes.

For example, says HP, provisioning hypervisors across 16 servers with traditional tools requires two hours and 50 minutes of administrative time, compared to just 14 minutes with HP OneView. And the process of retiring a virtual local area network (vLAN) requires only four steps and 30 seconds of administrative time with HP OneView, compared to 480 steps and more than two hours with a traditional tool.

“Social media, the consumerisation of IT and changing demographics are altering how work gets done, forcing organisations to address a widening gap between enterprise demands and traditional IT supply,” says Tom Joyce, senior vice president and general manager for HP Converged Systems. “The current infrastructure management model is stuck in the past and HP OneView is the first step in fundamentally rethinking the entire approach to infrastructure management in the data centre.”

HP says HP OneView can deliver "unprecedented ease of use" so organisations can deploy and manage HP infrastructure faster, with a 42 per cent lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and a 220 per cent return on investment.

Matt Eastwood, an analyst at IDC, says, “Resource-strapped organisations today are looking for infrastructure management platforms that will unchain them from spending countless hours on mundane, administrative tasks to focus more on innovation.

“The market is primed and ready for an infrastructure management platform that is more intuitive and built for the needs of IT today, not the days gone by.”

One company that has already tried out HP OneView is United Airlines. Marian Lakov, enterprise architect for technology architecture at United, says, “Existing IT infrastructure management tools are designed for individual devices, but don’t scale well in large data centres and are not optimised for the user. As a result it’s hard for United Airlines to scale IT services without corresponding increases in time and headcount.”

Lakov says, “HP OneView creates a new direction by providing a universal infrastructure management platform, that is flexible enough to scale from a single enclosure to large data centres and which is optimised for infrastructure teams. Our initial findings have been very promising and we believe that going forward, HP OneView will allow the United IT team to configure and manage the IT infrastructure in a more efficient way.”

As for the evolving SDDC and everything positive it can bring to enterprises, it has to be admitted though there is confusion in some quarters as to what it is and what it entails. At the recent Cloud Computing World Forum in London, for instance, cloud services firm Adapt surveyed 100 IT professionals and found major discrepancies in what they believe the SDDC is.

While 61 per cent of respondents claimed to be familiar with the concept, there was a mixed understanding as to what it was. A fifth of respondents (20 per cent) said a SDDC helped provide centralised management, and 13 per cent thought it had something to do with performance, while 17 per cent simply admitted they did not know.

When asked what a SDDC means to businesses, the survey's participants brought up a wide range of generic answers, from security to flexibility to lower costs.

Adapt says, "It's clear a true explanation of the benefits has not yet been defined or understood by UK organisations." Adapt's own defininition is pretty clear: "A SDCC is a way of making the most economic use of data centre resources like storage, network and compute - controlling infrastructure consumption, process and operation down to component level without having to touch a single piece of hardware."

Kevin Linsell, head of service development at Adapt, puts more meat on the bones, "Building large scale data centres with high-volumes of hardware is very inefficient and complex for cloud service providers and enterprises.

"Through the use of software as opposed to hardware, a SDDC can offer businesses a fast, incredibly flexible way to not only virtualise their IT, but increase levels of flexibility, agility and control from the application layer down, removing barriers and enabling business transformation."

Analyst Frost & Sullivan is pretty clear about what HP brings to the SDDC party though. It says, "HP OneView is an integrated management offering designed to manage HP infrastructure across compute, storage and networking today, but is swiftly moving toward multi-cloud management for both physical and virtual environments from multiple vendors through a single user interface."

It adds, "Developed using open standards and modern APIs, it allows IT organisations to efficiently provision and manage an entire environment through a single management platform. It can also automate security and compliance resulting in considerable time savings and risk reduction from human induced errors."

In cloud computing, says Frost & Sullivan, interoperability and open standards are often hallmarks of successful technology when it comes to virtualisation, the cloud and newer data centre technologies like the SDDC. Management platforms that can successfully manage a myriad of cloud components from a variety of providers are likely to be the most successful and penetrate the market better than competitors, says the analyst.

Frost & Sullivan says, "HP has gone to great lengths to ensure the interoperability of HP OneView. It is designed on industry standards and makes use of RESTful APIs, ensuring that it can work with any other service that adopts these open industry standards.

"Looking to the future, HP has successfully engineered a SDDC management platform that both meetd today’s needs and which has the extensibility to meet the needs of future platforms for effectively managing a hybrid environment."

And IDC adds, "IDC expects built-in APIs, including open source OpenStack support, will enable systems managed by HP OneView to integrate with higher-level cloud provisioning and automation activities as needed to facilitate the operation of cloud and software-defined data centres."