HP unveils support for flexible IT

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HP unveils support for flexible IT

HP has unveiled a line-up of datacentre products and services designed to make IT flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances.

The vendor said that these capabilities are needed because of uncertainty about how the economy will shape up over the next few years.

Among the announcements is an updated version of HP's Neoview data warehousing platform, and a new Converged Infrastructure architecture designed to deliver greater flexibility in the way storage and networks are configured, plus service offerings built on HP's acquisition of EDS last year.

Much of the technology is not new, according to analysts, but the strategy brings together products and services that can deliver lower cost datacentres that are easier to scale up when required.

"We are trying to help customers build an IT infrastructure to cope with the odd world that we find ourselves in at the moment," said Iain Stephen, vice president of enterprise servers and storage for HP in EMEA.

It is an "odd world" because uncertainty remains as to whether the economy will bounce back, whether business will pick up again but at a slower pace than before, or whether the industry will ever fully recover from the current recession, he explained.

Nevertheless, many businesses are already looking to implement something now that could give them a competitive advantage in the future, Stephen added.

"This means that flexibility is one of the most critical aspects of IT as far as chief information officers are concerned," he said.

A key part of the new announcements is the overhauled HP Neoview Advantage, according to Stephen, which is designed to help firms get a handle on their performance by adding real-time analytics to its existing data warehousing platform.

The updated solution has been given a 40 per cent performance improvement and now runs on HP's NonStop C-Class Integrity blade servers, making it "a very significant launch", he said.

Available from January 2010, Neoview Advantage also reduces cost of ownership with pre-built, pre-tested configurations.

HP also unveiled what it calls its Converged Infrastructure architecture, which is aimed at delivering IT capable of adjusting dynamically to business needs and is effectively an update of the Adaptive Infrastructure strategy that HP has followed for many years.

"All customers are struggling with how to reduce maintenance of existing systems to free up budget to innovate and do new stuff," said Stephen.

Converged Infrastructure pulls together HP's FlexFabric technology for converging Ethernet data and storage networks onto one fabric, along with virtual resource pools and virtualised collections of server, storage and networking capacity built around kit such as HP's StorageWorks arrays.

FlexFabric is "the backbone that enables flexibility", according to Stephen, and, when used with virtual connectivity, lets customers build an infrastructure that can be changed around dynamically.

"If you find you need more network bandwidth in the morning, you can do this. If you find you need greater storage bandwidth in the afternoon, you can do this," he said.

Also part of the picture is HP's Datacentre Smart Grid, a mix of hardware, software and services designed to intelligently manage power consumption so as to reduce energy costs and address thermal issues such as hotspots.

Converged Infrastructure also includes consultancy services to help customers design and build out their datacentre to be as flexible and adaptable as possible, and HP also enables customers to outsource all or part of their infrastructure to EDS, now known as HP Enterprise Services.

"We basically have a complete portfolio of hardware, software and services that can now go all the way through to outsourcing if that's what the customer requires," said Stephen.

IDC analyst Chris Ingle suggested that, while the new initiative builds on the older Adaptive Infrastructure approach, the underlying technology is now much more mature.

"HP has really built up its network and server products and tried to bring them together with a single fabric plus virtualisation and management," he said.

As with Adaptive Infrastructure, this is about consolidating around a single vendor, Ingle added, and customers are split down the middle on whether this is the best approach.

"We have found that companies are split 50/50 on whether this will deliver any benefits, and HP needs to demonstrate this," he said.

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