Converged Infrastructure Means Endless Possibilities

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rahul Neel Mani

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In an exclusive interview Dave Donatelli, EVP and GM, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking, HP spoke to Rahul Neel Mani in Las Vegas during HP Tech Forum on Converged Infrastructure.


Q:Issues like infrastructure consolidation are causing fresh pain. What’s a leading IT innovator like HP doing to address such a problem?

A: Indeed, one of the biggest problems that enterprises face today is infrastructure sprawl. This sprawl hurts the ability of enterprises to innovate. Surveys suggest that 70 percent of the IT dollars are spent on maintaining legacy infrastructure.

Only about 30 percent of funds remain to be spent on something that makes IT a real hero for businesses, which is bringing about new innovations such as new applications that help gain access into new areas. At HP, the whole R&D is focused towards solving these problems.


Q:Are there more challenges than just infrastructure sprawl and maintaining legacy IT?

A: Indeed there are! The pace of technological change is enormous. The changes that we see today are mostly generational changes which don’t come too often. What do we really mean by these changes? Let me explain to you.

For over two decades, the industry was busy in developing products that were based on individual silos. As a result the user got a server silo, a networking silo, a storage silo and to manage all of this, a management silo. All put together, these are major pain areas for a CIO from a management perspective.

There is a lot of challenge in keeping these silos in sync with change. There was a need for breaking down these silos and create a unified infrastructure, which stitches everything together.

HP is well positioned to take advantage of these remarkable changes in the world of computing. As a result of our customer-centric innovation, we came out with a concept called HP Converged Infrastructure. There is a very strong reason for everyone to believe that HP is, in reality, the only company which has its own servers, storage, networking and management portfolios.

We have both the ability and product portfolio to design an integrated, converged infrastructure from the ground-up. And the most important thing is that enterprise users don’t have to wait for it for years. This is available now.


Q:What does Converged Infrastructure mean to the users?

A: In precise terms, Converged Infrastructure is a blueprint for the futuristic data centres that replace the inflexible IT silos. This is achieved by converging server, storage and networks with facilities – all managed through a common management platform. As a result, you get an infrastructure that delivers a new level of simplicity, integration and automation that can accelerate the desired business outcomes.

The solution supports core virtualisation across all layers in the stack including the network, storage and server. HP is uniquely positioned at and committed to supporting various favours of virtualisations like HyperV, VMWare and others...But at the same time, if the users want to run their infrastructure in a nonvirtualised environment, the HP Converged Infrastructure supports that equally strongly.

This infrastructure offers a great amount of resiliency – from a single machine-high availability to a global high mission critical availability. You can have data running across different continents replicated to ensure that you have a resilient infrastructure. The Converged Infrastructure supports modern IT users by not only meeting their dynamically changing business needs but also by effecting savings in maintaining legacy IT.


Q:Which new HP products are part of this solution?

A: Converged Infrastructure is our bold answer to the demands from customers asking to get rid of complex solutions that have sprawled across their environment. This is the most significant advancement in the past four years in the HP Blade System solutions which include new servers as well as innovations in HP Virtual Connect and HP Blade System Matrix.

Apart from that, HP has also announced power management technologies that optimise energy usage and provide control over IT systems. HP has also leapfrogged in storage software space introducing new levels of simplicity and automation through a single, unified architecture for data deduplication.

First breakthrough innovation is HP ProLiant G7 blades and servers. The G7 promises to deliver cost savings in as little as 30 days. HP realised that to perform optimally, servers must have a balanced architecture across CPU, input/output (I/O) and memory. The new HP ProLiant scale-up servers deliver innovations in automation that allow clients to speed application delivery and more effectively utilise IT.

Second important announcement is HP Virtual Connect. It combines data and storage networks to eliminate sprawl. Virtual Connect will deliver automated, wire-once connectivity to any network, eliminating up to 95 percent of sprawl at the network edge. Virtual Connect FlexFabric module is a single device that connects servers to any Fibre Channel, Ethernet and iSCSI network eliminating the need for multiple interconnects.

The third one is HP BladeSystem Matrix software which simplifies IT environments with one-touch, self-service provisioning of applications. It also enables private clouds by allowing clients to deploy complex IT environments in less time. It helps users in reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) up to 56 percent compared to traditional IT infrastructures.

The fourth one is HP Intelligent Power Discovery. It is yet another industry-first from HP for green data centres that creates an automated, energy-aware network between HP ProLiant servers, third-party facility management tools and data centre power grids. By accurately provisioning energy, data centre managers can extend the life of their data centres and save millions.

Finally, HP StoreOnce is HP’s answer to automate data deduplication across the enterprise with a single unified architecture. It not only eliminates the complexity of multiple deduplication processes and products, but also improves productivity and data management effciency.


Q:Don’t you think it will lead to a lot of proprietary lock-in as far as the customers are concerned?

A: Many business users ask me this question. My answer to this is very simple. Those who have worked with HP — customers and partners alike — know that we are totally committed to working on standards that help in keeping the infrastructure open. The foundation of Converged Infrastructure is based on open standards. Users can buy as little or as much as they want to buy.

They can also replace us with anything they want. The infrastructure is orchestrated which means that the software and machines do the work which was earlier done manually and this ensures that errors don’t occur. Finally, the converged infrastructure is modular. A user can start with smaller pieces as per his/her needs and grow as large as possible as the business grows.

I can assure you that unlike others, we convert our vision into reality in a promised timeframe. A lot of these products that you see today from HP were part of our vision few years ago and today it is all part of reality.


Q:It took ten years to refresh the basic architecture of some of the most promising technologies from HP. What went in those ten years of research? What is the result?

A: Customers want technology architectures to have a significant life span. It is quite a substantial investment. Obviously we do bring out new generations of products from that architecture but the latter doesn’t change too often. There is always a trade-off between changing too fast and letting them exist for too long.

Our forecasts about IT infrastructure convergence have proved to be true. Having predicted convergence, we designed the bladed infrastructure. In fact, it is the only one out there in the market for the classic product. Earlier these products were developed on 100 percent custom hardware.

Redesigning these products so that they are built on acceptable industry standards required a lot of technical research and work. That’s what we have been working on for all these years. We all love the end result, which, today, takes the form of a simplifed solution for customers. If you look at the holistic approach of HP Converged Infrastructure with open standards, it is something really unheard in the industry.


Q:How is the HP Consultancy Services division shaping up?

A: The HP Consultancy Service helps customers create an architecture which helps them adopt convergence. It can also help customers in implementing the appropriate technologies in their data centres or even run their converged infrastructure through HP services group.

Finally, HP facilitates its partners who can then work with the customers to set up the converged infrastructure. It is all about customer choices. But we want to offer the largest array of choices a customer can think about.

Cross-posted from CTO Forum

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