Data centre model ‘broken,’ HP says

LAS VEGAS – Calling the current model of data centre design and construction out-dated and fundamentally broken, Hewlett-Packard Co. used its HP Discover user conference Monday to launch the HP EcoPOD 240a (performance optimized data centre), a pre-built and configured modular data centre it says can deploy in a fraction of the time of a traditional data centre, and at a fraction of the cost.

Available in North America in the fourth quarter of 2011, HP claims the EcoPOD can be deployed in just 12 weeks, and at a quarter the cost of a traditional data centre. With the power of a 10,000-square-foot. data centre in a modular design one-tenth the size, the EcoPOD can house up to 44 industry standard racks of IT equipment and over 4,000 servers.

Everything is configured to order by HP and optimized for space, serviceability and energy efficiency. With HP’s Adaptive Cooling technology, the vendor claims energy costs can be as much as 95 per cent less than a traditional data centre. The EcoPOD approach can reduce the capital cost investment by as much as 75 per cent, said the vendor.
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Data centres today are facing both a capacity crisis and an energy crisis, said Mark Potter, senior vice-president and general manager, HP industry standard servers and storage.

“Traditional approaches just won’t be enough,” said Potter. “It’s too slow to deploy a traditional data centre and with the construction costs, the regulation and the integration with IT, it’s just too costly.” Potter said EcoPOD is the solution to the enterprise data centre capacity crisis. He also sees it shaking-up the data centre market by making it affordable for more businesses to have their own data centre, rather than outsourcing to service providers.

“Companies that did go to a data centre provider will now decide to own EcoPODs,” said Potter.

In Canada, the market for EcoPOD will likely primarily be large enterprises and service providers, such as companies in the oil and gas sector, education, financial services, and companies in remote locations. But Geoff Kereluik, vice-president of commercial sales for HP Canada, said they’re working on an EcoPOD sale in Vancouver with a number of smaller businesses. It’s still in negotiations, but the companies will either jointly purchase the EcoPOD and share the capacity, or HP will offer it as a service.

“Constrained by budget, power and space limitations, customers need a cost-efficient, modular computing environment that can be quickly deployed,” said Michelle Bailey, vice-president, research for IDC Corp. “The new HP EcoPOD addresses key requirements that make modular data centres a more attractive option to a broader set of customers, industries and usage models.”

The EcoPod has HP’s converged infrastructure approach at its heart, which holds that industry-standard based technology designed to work together from the ground-up is the only way to give a business the IT agility it needs, and is much more efficient than vendors that try to lock-down proprietary systems.

HP used Discover to announce a number of other new offerings under its converged infrastructure focus, primarily around storage.

“It’s time to bring storage back from a separate, proprietary and siloed entity to a converged and integrated part of the data centre,” said David Donatelli, executive vice-president, enterprise servers, storage and networking with HP. “We’re poised to capitalize because HP is the only vendor that can build IT our from the data centre to the endpoint and back in again.” HP has upgraded its midrange enterprise virtual array (EVA) with the HP P6000, the first EVA offering with native iSCSI capability. The X5000 G2 Network Storage System is a network-attached storage (NAS) gateway. And the X9000 Ibrix Network Storage System is a scale-out NAS system that uses the software from HP’s 2009 acquisition of Ibrix.

HP also announced a new portfolio of systems with converged hardware, software, tailored consulting and HP Solution Support services, similar to EMC and Cisco’s vBlock offerings. The Converged portfolio comes in three “Virtual System” models ranging from small to large: VS1, VS2 and VS3.

The MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas was an early customer of HP’s converged storage technologies. Krishna Sankhhavaram, director of research IS and technology development at MD Anderson, said their genomic technology research generates terabytes of data in just hours and with the amount of data being generated in their labs quadrupling, they needed to quickly find a solution to bring all their storage together quickly, integrate it with their computational resources, and manage it all with a small IT staff.

Sankhhavaram said they recently evaluated five vendors on the storage side once again, and HP came out as the clear winner.

“The way they integrate their acquisitions into this new product line (is the difference), they’ve done a very good job,” said Sankhhavaram. The software that came with 3Par and Ibrix has been integrated very well.” When you compare HP with the other companies, Sankhhavaram saidthey still seem to operate as independent organizations.

“It makes a big difference. We have several different types of products together in the data centre, and we’ve invested millions in some legacy platforms. We can’t just throw it away because we have a new vendor,” said Sankhhavaram. “We need someone who can work with what we have and, at the same time, leverage new technology.” HP Discover continues this week.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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