ProLiant servers get essential treatment

Last month Hewlett Packard Co. released additions to its acquired Compaq ProLiant server line in an effort to keep customers up to snuff with more than just the bare essentials.

The company has announced the new HP ProLiant Essentials value packs, which bring availability, reliability and quick adaptability to changing business demands, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said.

The first of two, the ProLiant Essentials Recovery Server Option (RSO) pack maximizes server uptime and protects customers from hardware and operating system failures by creating an active-standby configuration of two servers where a recovery server will initialize and take over when a fatal fault is detected in the primary server, HP said. Enhancements to the RSO pack allow customers to simplify the remote unattended deployment of Linux servers.

“The best thing when you are talking about the RSO pack is it is a really simple and inexpensive way for general users – not the huge enterprises who can afford full-scale clustering – to be able to get the redundancy and high availability features through a software option without having to buy all the hardware,” said Chris Parisi, product manager for industry standard server with HP Canada in Mississauga, Ont. “It makes it quite simple and available to more people that could not have afforded high availability in the past. We have announced…enhanced Linux support, but we actually support a number of different operating systems. In the product we support Novell and Microsoft as well as two versions of Linux. We really cover all the gamut here.”

And, while the RSO pack is aimed primarily at the small and medium businesses where budgets are tight and resources are constrained, HP has not forgotten the enterprise. The company has also released the ProLiant Essentials Rapid Deployment Pack, which is an integrated HP and Altiris software tool that automates the deployment and the provisioning of server software. The option also comes with enhanced Linux support and new levels of integration with Remote Insight Lights Out (RILO) products, including the RILO card, which acts as a remote console that monitors temperature and events occurring within the server.

“The Rapid Deployment pack gives administrators ease of deployment of large numbers of servers in an unattended fashion,” Parisi explained. “What that really means is that this is aimed more at an enterprise or companies that have distributed networks who want to be able to connect (to those servers) and do things remotely.”

For one ProLiant user, the ability to deploy server software became a serious issue when the company found itself faced with the task of rolling out 140 new stores. Hannaford Brothers, a grocery store chain based out of Portland, Me., began using the ProLiant Essentials Rapid Deployment Pack and assures it is glad it did.

According to Aaron Merriam, system services specialist for Hannaford Brothers, the company was basically given one month to develop a process to roll out to its 140 new stores in Florida from Maine.

“We needed something that we could automate and do remotely,” Merriam said. “Using this Rapid Deployment Pack, we were able to install Windows 2000 and all our applications. It saved us a tome of time and money it would have taken to travel to Florida.”

But just how much time did the ProLiant Essentials pack save? Merriam explained that with Hannaford’s traditional method, which was as he explained basically disk cloning, the company spent approximately five to 10 hours per store and then had to troubleshoot the rollout.

“With the Rapid Deployment pack, it probably takes an hour of actual person time per server. There was some troubleshooting but that was mainly because of power problems. We did this starting in February and we finished the rollout in July. The Insight Management thing has an area where you can view your servers and see highlighted green checkmarks. I just looked the other day and all our stores were at green,” Merriam said.

As far as Alan Freedman is concerned, the ProLiant Essentials value packs are an evolutionary move in the server line’s span.

“(HP) is trying to differentiate themselves in the highly commoditized market of PC servers,” said Freedman, research analyst, servers and workstations for IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto. “One way to do that is by increasing the manageability and availability of their servers. Both aspects are being addressed here with the two software packages as well as total cost of ownership. By lowering or reducing the time to installation, you are going to improve your return on investment.”

The HP ProLiant Essentials RSO and Rapid Deployment Packs are available now and are priced at $1,305 and $1,727 respectively. For details visit the company online at