Tuesday, October 30, 2007

BladeSystem Updates

First of all let me apologise for not having updated the blog in recent weeks; it has been a really busy end of year and I am only getting time to catch my breath this week before heading off to sunny Houston next week for a technology update on all things ProLiant. You can expect me to be out and about updating (berating) you our partners and customers as soon as I get back with all the latest and greatest info. Bookings are now being accepted :-).

So now to the updates...

Shorty is here
The biggest news in the past month has been the launch of the c3000 BladeSystem or 'Shorty' as we call it in HP. We had over 200 customers and partners at the launch events in Dublin and Belfast and interest since has been huge.

Shorty brings all the benefits and enterprise features of the bigger c7000 model to our SMB customers. It can hold up to 8 servers, storage or Tape Backup devices and is packaged in 6U. It plugs directly into standard wall outlets and is designed to work equally well in computer rooms or offices. It is a unique solution for the market and no other vendor has such an offering for the SMB market. More information on the product can be found at http://www.hp.com/ie/shorty.

You can also take an interactive guided tour of the c3000 at http://www.hp.com/go/smallsiteblades

There are a whole host of end of year BladeSystem and Insight Control Management toolset promotions to celebrate the launch of 'Shorty'. Your local HP reseller has all the information.

As well as the Shorty launch we also launched an 'All-in-One' Storage Blade, the AiO SB600c delivering 1.6TB of shared SAS storage. Check out http://www.hp.com/go/SB600c for more information.

The BL680c server also has arrived which is a quad socket, quad core Xeon server based on the new Tigerton chipset from Intel.

For those of you awaiting the new AMD Quad Core systems they have now slipped to March 2008 when HP will launch a full range of 2 and 4 socket blade and rack servers with the B3 chipset from AMD.

BladeBuilder University II (for HP Resellers)
On 13th November we will hold the BBU II. If you have sold at least one c-Class blade implementation or attended the well received Blade Builder University I in June, then this class is for you. This all new course focuses on business growth (versus selling technology in Blade Builder University I) and delivers modules that shows business partners exactly how to position the technology to our customers with real life examples and templates. More details to follow but places are limited and registration is now open on http://bladebuilderuniversity.com/

That's all for now - I'll post an update as soon as I get back from Texas!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Power and Cooling - HP Labs Technology

Power and Cooling has jumped right to the top of most customers IT agenda and HP has a lot to offer; from the power regulation technologies in our ProLiant and BladeSystem servers all the way up to the dynamic data centre portfolio of solutions. I have already published quite a lot of information in previous postings on this blog regarding power and cooling technology but I have come across 2 new items this week which I felt were worth sharing with you all.

First off we have just released the Insight Power Manager product which is an option for our ProLiant and Blade servers. This gives customers the ability to proactively manage the power utilisation of their servers, implement power policies inc. power capping and measure the actual power savings in € for your entire server estate.
>>Click here<< for further information. Other server vendors claim they also offer the functionality to control power but in reality they provide power control as part of the Windows 2003 OS which also needs modification to enable power control; furthermore there is no ability to measure real power savings or implement power policies. If you need more information please just let me know; this is a great HP .

Secondly 'Information Week' did a great piece on what HPs are doing with regard to power and cooling. If you would like to learn more about Dynamic Smart Cooling and see it working real time and hear about our strategy around cooling innovations in the datacenter, watch this video from Chandrakant Patel, HP Fellow, founder of HP Labs' thermal technology research program. You’ll need only 9 minutes to become experts !

To view the blog >>click here<<.
To view the 9 minute video >>click here<<.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

BladeSystem Promotion extended to August 31st - Free Enclosure and Switch

HP Ireland are running a cClass BladeSystem end user promotion for the month of July which has been extended to August 31st, 2007. Customers can receive up to €14,500 cash back. Simply populate 50% of the ProLiant c-Class enclosure, include your choice of two interconnect modules and receive the enclosure and one interconnect free.

To support this promotion, purchase the HP Installation and Startup Service for HP BladeSystem in conjunction with your blade bundle and receive an additional €1,450 cashback. For full details of HP Care Pack Services please visit www.hp.com/ie/carepack

The full list of qualifying servers, enclosures and interconnect modules as well as the terms and conditions that apply can be found on http://www.hp.com/ie/freebladeenclosure

Please note that the promotion web site is due to go live on July 12th.

How to size Power and Cooling for ProLiant and BladeSystem

Power and Cooling requirements are becoming ever more important on the criteria list when devising an IT solution. The ability to accurately predict in advance what power and cooling requirements your computer room or datacentre will require in order to support the proposed solution is of the utmost importance and can determine what the final solution will look like. HP has put a lot of effort into the whole power and cooling aspect of our servers by offering sizing tools, power management and monitoring tools and implementing innovative new technology in our BladeSystem and ProLiant ML/DL servers to both reduce your power requirements while not adversely affecting performance. Most vendors give you some basic sizing and monitoring tools but HP goes the extra step in providing strong integrated OS independent hardware based power management meaning our customers can leverage for Microsoft, Linux or VMware solutions.

For our channel partners this is a great way to add value to your customer proposals differentiating yourselves from the competition and providing the customer with information they will very much appreciate.

Click on the links below for further information
Power Regulator Technology for ProLiant ML/DL/BL Servers - Understand how it works
Power Calulator Utility for ProLiant DL rack based servers - Understand how to use it

Power Sizing Tool for ProLiant Servers - Go do it for ProLiant ML and DL servers
Power Sizing Tool for HP BladeSystem - Go do it for BladeSystem

Monday, May 14, 2007

New - BladeSystem Online Resources!

Two great new resources have been launched. The first is a BladeSystem Connect Online site which allows you to establish contact with other BladeSystem interested parties including HP specialists, BladeSystem customers, and more with peer to peer support forums, chat rooms, discussion groups etc. You can request assistance or contribute and share your knowledge and best practices.

There is also a great new EMEA BladeSystem Community site with all the latest and greatest technical information and demos on HP BladeSystem cClass.

Join Me at Blade Connect!

Friday, May 11, 2007

ProLiant & BladeSystem - Promotions

HP Ireland are currently running a number of promotions for our ProLiant and BladeSystem range of products for the month of May..

When you buy a selected HP ProLiant server with an additional second processor between 1 and 31 May 2007, you can receive the second processor absolutely free.
Check out www.hp.com/ie/proliantcpu

HP BladeSystem, simply purchase any 3 qualifying BL480c models between 1– 31 May 2007, then complete the claim form to claim cashback to the value of the lowest priced model!
Check out www.hp.com/ie/bladesystem3for2

Friday, May 04, 2007

BladeSystem Site Planning Guide

Sorry for the gap in postings but it has been a really busy few weeks and I have also been away on holidays. A great new document has been made available which tells you all you need to know on site planning for the HP c-Class BladeSystem. It also has sample configurations with min and max for power and cooling etc. as well as rack, floor, pdu requirements. Anyone who has a c-Class or is considering implementing c-Class shoud take a look at this. It is available at the following link . Click here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Latest Updates for BladeSystem and Management Tools

Apologies for the delay in updating the blog but it has been a busy month. I have been to the Worldwide BladeSystem Ambassador Academy in Houston, Texas and my head is busy trying to absorb all the new information I picked up there as well as deal with the backlog of work that I had waiting for me when I got back. So what's been happening this past month?

HP regains No.1 spot in Blades
Well I guess the biggest news from my point of view is that HP BladeSystem has finally recaptured No. 1 unit and revenue market share from IBM in the blade server market. It has taken us 10 Quarters but it has been on the cards ever since cClass was launched given the huge demand we have experienced and massive adoption of BladeSystem worldwide. Since cClass was launched HP has outpaced the market every quarter and according to IDC now holds 41.9% Revenue Share and 40% total Factory Units Share and has 10 times the growth of IBM in units and revenue year over year.

Anyway enough crowing what developments have there been in ProLiant and BladeSystem in the past few weeks.

New firmware available for Onboard Administrator
Version 1.3 of the OA is now available for download with some tweaks and fine tuning of the power utilisation and also implements zoned cooling in the cClass which further increases the cClass power and cooling efficiencies. One case of note was at a bank in the UK who upgraded the OA to version 1.3 and for their specific configuration with a full blade enclosure saw a 10% decrease in total enclosure power draw (300W). By implementing zoned cooling we now dynamically increase and decrease the RPMs of the fans in 4 zones. We increase the RPMs of the fans in that zone which require extra cooling whereas prior to 1.3 all fans would have increased.

SIM Updates
Systems Insight Manager 5.1 is now available and includes some nice new features (48 in fact but I will spare you and just point out the highlights) inc. Active Directory synchronization: integrates with group lists and authorization as an active directory resource group; Ease of use enhancements: quicker installation and easier configuration make HP SIM 5.1 easier to use than ever before; Improved enclosure views: enhanced view shows health status, environment information, and firmware revisions in life-like detail and a Custom tool wizard: allows you to easily integrate your programs, scripts and custom commands into HP SIM.

The best feature IMO which before was a stand alone product but is now a core feature of SIM is the Remote Support pack. The HP Services Essentials Remote Support Pack integrates with HP SIM to improve warranty and contracts management, provide optional automated support calls to HP, and add intelligent events and advanced troubleshooting resources. When the Remote Support Pack is fully installed, turning on remote monitoring for any particular device is then just one-click away within HP SIM. Enabling the Remote Support Pack will also give customers access to the new warranty and contract entitlement feature in HP SIM 5.1. For further information visit http://www.hp.com/go/hpsim

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February '07 Product Launch

Highlights of this months launch include the introduction of the much anticipated Virtual Connect modules and Cisco SAN Switch for the BladeSystem c-Class plus further processor refreshes across the AMD product range. Also worth noting the launch of the Workstation blade (xw460c) and the Integrity blade (BL860c) also for the cClass BladeSystem.

HP 4Gb Virtual Connect Fibre Channel for c-Class BladeSystem
The HP Virtual Connect Fibre Channel Module provides transparent SAN connectivity to external networks to enable server moves, adds or changes without impacting network operations.

HP 1/10 Gb Virtual Connect Ethernet Module

The HP Virtual Connect Ethernet Module provides transparent LAN connectivity to external networks to enable server moves, adds or changes without impacting network operations.

HP ProLiant xw460c Workstation Blade

The HP ProLiant xw460c workstation blade is a data center workstation without boundaries. It offers customers data center security, control and multi-location access flexibility - all with a workstation class user experience. With Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5100 series processor and features similar to desktop workstations, the dual processor capable, Dual-Core Intel Xeon xw460c combines power-efficient computing, and high density with expanded memory for maximum performance.

HP Integrity BL860c Server Blade

The HP Integrity BL860c server blade enables customers to utilize the powerful capabilities of Intel's Itanium processors and HP-UX in a BladeSystem c-Class form factor. The BL860c fully supports Integrity Virtual Machine for unsurpassed virtualization capabilities supported by up to 48GB of available memory. The BL860c is ideal for server and application consolidation in an HP-UX environment not previously available. It also allows Windows, UNIX, Linux, multiple pieces of hardware to operate on single operating system. BL860c is also well suited for superior performance in demanding database intensive, high performance, and scientific computing environments.

HP GbE2c Layer 2/3 Ethernet Blade Switch

The newest addition to the GbE2 family, the HP GbE2c Layer 2/3 Ethernet blade switch now provides four SFP fiber uplink ports in addition to five RJ-45 ports that provide the flexibility to choose between fiber or copper uplinks. A maximum of five 1 Gb uplinks are supported. This is also the first c-Class switch with layer 3 routing, filtering and QOS queuing making it ideal for high bandwidth switching applications within the enclosure. Along with the switch comes a new option, the BNT Fiber SFP Module Kit that contains two 1Gb SR SFP’s.

Cisco MDS 9124e Fabric Switch for HP c-Class BladeSystem
The Cisco MDS 9124e Fabric Switch introduces a Cisco-branded embedded 4Gb Fibre Channel switch for HP BladeSystem c-Class that offers exceptional performance and scalability for the most demanding environments. The integrated design lowers TCO and enables higher levels of availability, it's also easy to configure and manage. Integrating the Fibre Channel switch within the HP BladeSystem c-Class increases flexibility, performance and simplifies management while reducing costs through consolidation.

HP BLc PCle Modular Option Kit
The HP PCI express mezzanine expansion card for HP BladeSystem c-Class is a four lane PCIe expansion card that is required to provide PCIe connectivity from a full height c-Class blade server to the HP StorageWorks SB40c storage blade.

BladeSystem C KVM Interface Adapter
The BladeSystem C KVM Interface Adapter connects HP BladeSystems c-Class blade servers to an HP KVM for ease of management. Features include a single interface adapter, hot pluggable and it is compatible with all HP Cat five based KVM switches. It can also accept a USB device connection. This adapter eases cable management for a much cleaner solution.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

SAS Drive Technology - Large or Small?

I have had quite a lot of questions from channel partners and customers alike around hard disk drive technology. There is quite a bit of confusion in the market right now 1st of all around the new SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) hard drives and secondly since they are currently available in 2 form factors, Large Form Factor (LFF) and Small Form Factor (SFF); which drive type is best? Most hardware vendors have not made it any easier by making both types of drives available for their servers which means end users are faced with multiple options when trying to decide on a configuration.

First of all I should point out that SAS is the successor to SCSI. SAS is a serial technology where every drive can have it's own dedicated 'pipe' or bandwidth lane to the SAS RAID controller as opposed to traditional Parallel SCSI whose drives share a 'pipe' to a single channel on the SCSI RAID controller. For example the P400 controller in the HP ProLiant DL380 G5 is an 8 port SAS controller i.e. 1 port for every drive in the DL380 G5 which can house 8 Small Form Factor (SFF 2.5") drives.

HP have had a lot of success in the past with our Universal SCSI drive which meant that the same SCSI drive would go in our ML, DL or BL servers and MSA storage i.e. 1 drive for all servers and DAS (Direct Attached Storage) and shared storage solutions. As a result of this strategy which our customers have overwhelmingly applauded, HP has decided to adopt a new single universal drive type for the latest SAS and indeed SATA technologys based on the SFF 2.5" disk meaning our customers will only have to endure a single drive type transition. The industry is rapidly moving towards SFF 2.5" disks and LFF 3.5" disks are only a temporary stop gap to fill areas where capacity is more important than performance or even price/performance.

As stated HP has transitioned all of our enterprise servers to the new universal drive type; Small Form Factor 2.5” SAS (Serial Attached SCSI). We did this primarily to avoid our customers going through 2 transitions i.e. from U320 3.5” Parallel SCSI hard drives to Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) 3.5” Large Form Factor Drives and then to Small Form Factor 2.5” SAS drives.

HP currently offers SFF 2.5” SAS drives in 36GB and 72 GB capacities at 15K speeds. We also offer SFF 2.5” SAS 10K drives in 36GB, 72 GB and 146 GB. It is important to note that no vendor offers a 146GB 15K 2.5” SFF disk drive as this is still has not been launched by the hard disk vendors. This is not a major issue as the performance difference between SFF 2.5” 10K SAS and 15K LFF 3.5” SAS is very low. In a RAID 5 set of 4 drives this can be as low as 5% – see diagram below.

SFF Drive - Physical Advantages
The HP SFF 2.5” SAS drives are 2nd generation SAS hard drives compared to 3.5” LFF SAS drives which still use U320 parallel SCSI mechanics. The SFF drives use less power (about half that of LFF drives), are quieter, have a better MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) rating increasing availability and reliability and the server supports more spindles which ultimately has the greatest impact on performance.

Sample Scenario
To achieve a 400GB RAID 5 disk partition we could use 4 x 146GB 2.5” SFF SAS 10K Hard Drives. This would give much better price/performance than the 3.5” LFF 15K disk solution, however the 15K 3.5” LFF drive array would be approximately 5% faster performing.

The HP list pricing (Feb. '07) for the 2 drive types are as follows
€355 for a 146GB 10K SFF 2.5” SAS Drive
€505 for a 146GB 15K LFF 3.5” SAS Drive

For a 400 GB RAID array based on 4 Hard Drives with both drives types in terms of price and relative performance. (See Diagram Below for performance data)

€1420 – SFF 2.5” 10K for 1200 IOPs approximately
€2020 – LFF 3.5” 15K for 1260 IOPs approximately

The price/performance for the 10K array would be far superior to the 15K solution while the performance is approximately 5% less.

The advantage of using SFF 2.5” 10K drives is that due to their smaller size you can have a total of 6 per DL360 G5 1U server, 8 per DL380 G5 class 2U server and 16 in both the DL580 G5 and ML370 G5. This means we can add up to 2 more drives a typical 2U server (8 as opposed to 6 with 3.5") to the RAID Array increasing not only the available disk space in the RAID array but also dramatically increasing performance. By adding a 5th 146 GB 2.5” 10K SFF SAS drive to the array we exceed the performance of 15K SAS (see diagram below) while still being a more cost effective solution.

At 5 drives IOPS approx.
15K LFF gives 1260 IOPS – limited to 4 drives in a 2U server.
10K SFF gives 1490 IOPS and costs less.
You are still left with the option to add a 6th drive to the RAID set at a later date if you would like to further increase the performance and/or size of the array.

At 6 drives IOPS approx.
15K LFF gives 1260 IOPS - limited to 4 drives in a 2U server
10K SFF gives 1650 IOPS and costs fractionally more.

In conclusion Small Form Factor 2.5” SAS drives are the new universal drive type in the industry. HP have adopted the standard universal drive for all of our servers meaning our customers will not have to transition again in 12-18 months time away from legacy 3.5” drive technology. Small Form Factor 2.5” drives are not available in capacities greater than 72GB in 15K disk speed.

SFF drives provide more advantages than a 15K 3.5”SAS drives in terms of power, cooling, reliability, and density and we have shown that the overall solution can beat 15K in terms of not only price/performance but also raw performance.

Monday, January 15, 2007

NEW! - HP ProLiant Family Guide

The ProLiant family guide has been updated to reflect the latest ProLiant and BladeSystem product offerings. This Guide provides a side-by-side comparison of the HP ProLiant server family, from entry-level to high-end servers, and includes related offerings typically purchased with ProLiant servers. With powerful, flexible solutions and innovations in manageability, virtualisation, power and cooling, HP ProLiant servers help you build the right adaptive infrastructure for your IT. >>Click here<< to download the guide in PDF format or contact your HP reseller for hard copies.