HP moves to simplify data centre setup

Set to begin delivering Virtual Connect to take on IBM in the blade server market

HP has begun shipping a new product that the company thinks will give it an edge over rival, IBM, in the market for blade servers.

The company is set to begin delivering Virtual Connect, a management tool for its BladeSystem c-Class servers to more easily add blade servers to a network.

Using Virtual Connect, which the company announced in June 2006, an enterprise can set up its data centre network infrastructure ahead of time and then more easily add, subtract, change or move around servers as needed.

Currently, enterprises deploy switches in their data center networks to connect servers to storage appliances. They are relatively cheap, but each of those switches was one more piece of hardware on the network that administrators needed to manage, vice-president of HP's BladeSystem business, Mark Potter, said. Another alternative was to install a patch panel which didn't require any separate management but was very expensive to deploy.

Adding servers was also very time-consuming and required the involvement of a company's server manager, network manager, storage manager and others, Potter said. What should be a 30-minute task could sometimes take hours or even days. One HP customer told Potter it once took 58 days.

"You know when they give you a number like 58 days that they've measured it and they're not happy about it," he said.

Virtual Connect is built in to the data centre infrastructure when it is first created. Then new servers can be simply plugged in and turned on.

"We can wire up the infrastructure one time, physically, and basically walk away," Potter said. "Then the server admin can add, replace and change servers on the fly without ever impacting the networking admin or the storage admin."

Virtual Connect is hardware and middleware that sits between the blade server and the network switches that connect to storage. Virtual Connect for a network using Ethernet switches carries a starting list price of $US5699. For Fibre Channel networks, it starts at $US9499.

HP also is set to begin shipping a new blade server, the ProLiant xw460c (list price: $US4329), which HP describes as the first workstation blade for the c-Class blade product line.

Virtual Connect was a unique solution to a data center headache, principal analyst with Illuminata, Gordon Haff, said.

"Virtual Connect does not eliminate [the work of configuring a network]. It still might take three or four weeks to do all that," Haff said. "But the idea is that you can basically do it once."

Figures released February 21 by Gartner show that IBM is the top blade seller but HP is gaining.

HP's share of the x86 platform blade market, based on revenue, rose to 33 per cent in 2006 from 32 per cent in 2005, while IBM's fell to 40 per cent from 42 per cent, a Gartner analyst, Jeffrey Hewitt, said.

At the same time, though, the x86 blade market is growing. Global blade server revenue grew to $US2.7 billion in 2006 from $US2 billion in 2005 and unit shipments grew to 727,000 from 548,000 the year before, according to the Gartner report.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert Mullins

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?