HP calls BMC a worthy data centre competitor

HP on Monday applauded the acquisition of BladeLogic by BMC for US$800 million, even as it even as it announced products from its buyout of data centre automation firm Opsware.

At an industry conference in Spain, HP said it had developed an eight-socket x86 server with quad-core AMD Opteron processors called the ProLiant DL785 G5 that will ship in May, priced at US$17,000. It also unveiled data centre automation software, HP Insight Dynamics – VSE, which the company said will offer IT managers an integrated view of virtual and physical resources, capacity utilization, power consumption and the compatibility of workload assignments.

HP gained considerable data centre automation technology through its acquisition of Opsware last year. This week, BMC purchased BladeLogic, largely considered one of Opsware’s biggest competitors.

In an interview with ComputerWorld Canada, HP Canada IT strategist Bill Dupley said the BladeLogic acquisition was a sign that data centre automation software was reaching a “pervasive” phase that commonly leads to industry consolidation.

“This is going to happen. It means that there’s going to be better products for customers to choose from. You’re going to get more integrated suites,” he said, noting that HP has spent much of the last year creating tighter links between Opsware and other acquired firms that offer similar capabilities such as Peregrine and Mercury Interactive.

“I’m sure BMC will do the same thing (with BladeLogic),” Dupley said. “They’re a fine competitor.”

HP’s Canadian data centre customers include Mitel Networks, with whom it has been working since 2005 to introduction virtualization into its operations. According to David Grant, Mitel’s data centre manager in Ottawa, the company is aware of HP’s forthcoming products but hasn’t committed to anything yet.

“As with any of the larger vendors, I’m interested in what the marketing says,” he said, “but you really don’t know what it’s going to do for you until you get your hands on it.”

For now, Grant said Mitel is primarily concerned with building upon its existing data centre project, which involved using technology from VMware and consolidating its existing 12 servers on two PA-RISC HP 9000 rp8420 Servers, with two clustered network-attached file storage devices based on HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Arrays. The virtual server environment was designed for Mitel’s core systems, which include SAP R/3, an Oracle database repository and the firm’s own internal R&D applications.

Grant said the work has already sped up provisioning and should cut annual expenses by $300,000 while requiring 30 per cent fewer staff. The next big challenge is doing something similar for Inter-Tel, a provider of PBX services that Mitel acquired earlier this year.

“At the moment we’re still wrestling with that one,” he said. “The thing with Inter-Tel is that they’re a much younger company. They’ve gone through the built-out phase, they have multiple servers and they’ve just recently started to dabble in virtualization.”

Dupley hinted that its automation tools could work well for a firm going through integration. “Instead of having a tool for servers, for storage and networking, you have one tool,” he said, adding that Opsware’s Orchestrator product will offer a similar benefit. “It allows you to take anybody’s tools – client automation or for any help desk process tools – and although they may not be from the same company, it ties them all together.”

HP is seeing the benefits of data centre automation internally, Dupley added. The company used to devote 72 per cent of its IT resources to maintenance work, which involved a lot of manual processes. Now that’s getting down to 20 per cent, he said.

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