By John Spiers (Former CTO and a founder of LeftHand Networks, now working for HP StorageWorks)
If you haven't taken a look at the new HP virtualization bundles, you definitely should. The virtualization bundles provide an end-to-end solution that delivers application high availability without external storage. Sounds like a contradiction? Read on!
It has been characterized as a "mini-Matrix system", offering server, virtualization, storage and networking products configured and tested to reach the full potential of server virtualization. These bundles include ProLiant G6 servers, VMware's vSphere 4 virtualization software, ProCurve networking Switches, HP LeftHand P4000 and HP's Insight Control Suite (ICE) for management.
My colleague recently wrote about the virtualization bundles and it got me thinking about how unique these bundles are for SMBs and other companies looking to improve application availability and cost savings through virtualization.
Allow me to elaborate...
HP positions these easy-to-buy bundles as solutions that reduce the complexity and uncertainty of virtualization. You have rack or tower servers, highly available shared storage and networking with simple, centralized management.
Looking at the value of the bundles, Illuminata recently stated, "A major contributor to the value of what HP offers in these bundles is the fact that the requirement for acquiring, integrating and testing external SAN storage can be avoided."
We address one of the main hurdles on the way to server virtualization: the need for shared storage. Without shared, highly available storage VMotion, VMware HA or VMware FT cannot happen automatically, virtual machines cannot be moved and application users cannot be shielded from the outage of a physical server. If all you do is consolidate many virtual machines onto one physical server, you have basically placed all bets in one basket (traditionally knows as all eggs in one basket). Some workloads and business requirements can tolerate this scenario, yet many cannot. With HP LeftHand Virtual SAN Appliance, the internal server disks (and directly attached disks) can be pooled in a VMware environment and act like a pool of storage, like a virtual SAN. The IT administrator ends us using a SAN without ever having bought a SAN, a physical SAN that is!
The majority of these Virtualization Bundles include physical SAN nodes. And another secret is that servers and the SAN can not only failover, but automatically failback and incrementally re-sync the data on the primary SAN without manual intervention and with complete application data consistency using VMware's vSphere Fault Tolerance capability. Not to mention that these meaty bundles include software for snapshots, cloning, remote replication, thin provisioning, multi-site synchronous replication and advanced performance monitoring - at no additional charge.
With this new technology combination, HP is clearly establishing a new paradigm in server and storage virtualization. This is what customers have been asking for, for years and they can finally get it. I don't know of a single vendor server and SAN solution in the market today that is comparable.