HP adds capacity on demand

Most enterprises with HP 9000 servers will no longer need to shut down their machines to add extra capacity, thanks to an instant Capacity On Demand (iCOD) feature Hewlett-Packard Canada Ltd. is instituting this year.

Under HP’s iCOD program, HP 9000 L-Class, N-Class and V-Class servers will be populated with extra, dormant CPUs. When an enterprise decides it needs to boost a 9000’s processing power, all it needs to do is enter a command to turn on the extra CPUs, said Steve Shaw, enterprise systems program manager with HP Canada.

“There’s no downtime,” Shaw explained. “There’s no installation of extra boards or anything.”

In addition to acting as instant extra processing power, the dormant CPUs act as hot spares in case of a failure in an active CPU.

“If there was a failure, normally the system would reboot minus the CPU that failed,” Shaw explained. “With iCOD, the system will reboot automatically with one of the iCOD CPUs.”

Users do not pay in full for the dormant iCOD CPUs until they turn them on. If the CPUs are activated as hot spares, there is no charge to users, Shaw said. But users would have to put in a service call to HP to fix the damaged CPU, Shaw noted.

If users do activate an additional iCOD CPU, they pay the market cost of the processor at the time it is activated – not the cost of the processor at the time it was installed.

Shaw noted iCOD CPUs are not entirely free, even when dormant. Because the CPUs are electrically enabled even when inactive, there is an annual service charge starting at approximately $1,200 per processor.

Customers with existing L-Class, N-Class and V-Class 9000s can add iCOD CPUs if they feel they might need extra capacity in the future, Shaw said.

“What we believe will happen is that customers will decide they want more capacity and they order a new CPU board,” he explained. “They may order the CPU board and they may add a couple of iCOD CPUs.”

However, Shaw noted, users without iCOD CPUs in their machines now would have to schedule downtime to swap out their existing CPU boards for boards populated with iCOD CPUs.

Shaw freely admitted HP isn’t the only server vendor with a capacity on demand program. He noted Sun and IBM both offer instant capacity on demand, but added that the other vendors are currently applying their programs only to very high-end servers.

Alan Freedman, an analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, believes the iCOD program should benefit HP.

“It allows them to get a better handle on markets that right now belong to Sun,” he said. “Namely the small ISPs and people like that, because those are the people who will have trouble planning their capacity.”

However, Freedman noted the iCOD program won’t be suitable for every enterprise.

“If you don’t see you’ll need the added processing power in a reasonable amount of time, then it may not be quite as worth it, but if you’re growing by leaps and bounds and you’re having trouble doing capacity planning, then that’s where I think this is a real benefit.”

HP in Mississauga, Ont., is at 1-800-387-3867.