Eye on Blades Blog: Trends in Infrastructure
Get HP BladeSystem news, upcoming event information, technology trends, and product information to stay up to date with what is happening in the world of blades.

Displaying articles for: July 2008

Why do you blade?

What is the world view of a blade owner?  Do you do it for the server or the infrastructure? 


"Show me what a people admire, and I will tell you everything about them that matters." - Maggie Tufu, The Engines of God, page 398


A knowledge of trends among your customers in
art
(music, hairstyle, clothing, jewelry, etc.)
brands
(cars, bikes, computers, magazines, etc.) and
heroes (the cultural icons they admire)
will be the only clues you need.

Cook better with HP Virtual Connect

The Virtual Connect cookbook has been out for awhile, but we heard from a lot of folks that no one knew about it.  Enter the communication power of the blade blog. 


Some of our best field engineers collaborated with current customers using Virtual Connect to create this de facto, technical guide.  It's not only chock full of the expert advice to keep your planning and deployment times from boiling over, but it also includes the tips and tricks to help you add that special touch that shows your CIO you really care.


You can download the official Virtual Connect Cookbook it here.


Bon Appetite!

Top 10 Application Scalability Mistakes

John Coggeshall, Chief Technology Officer of Automotive Computer Services posted a great presentation full with a lot of advice for maximizing the scalability of your applications and for avoiding some of the most common mistakes. 


Wrong Approach: Reactive


- Write your app
- Deploy it
- Watch it blow up
- Try to fix it
- If you're lucky, you might succeed "enough"
- If you're unlucky . . .

Correct Approach: Proactive


Know your performance goals up front and make sure your application si living up to them as part of the development process


How many billions does IBM need to screw in a light bulb?

If I see one more press release from IBM announcing another one billion dollar investment, I'm going to have to start a new line of jokes.  Seriously, have you ever noticed that every time IBM wants to get in the news with something that's just barely news worthy, they add "$1 Billion" to the subhead? 


What's even funnier is it seems to be a magical marketing formula that never gets old for reporters and hasn't since the 1970's. Furthermore, has anyone ever added up all the billions of dollars spent?  Well, I did. Sort of. 

A Google search for now reveals:


1 Billion


Hey!  That's over half a million hits!  Is that newsworthy?  


Just curious.


Jason 

Labels: marketing

Ghosts of marketing past

Eight years ago, we started touting blades to the masses.  Do you remember the original messages?


More servers per rack!  Save datacenter floor space!!  Introducing the Density Optimized Server!!!


Now the bell tolls for me. These messages are the wailing echos I hear from my chamber bed. 

Ghost fingers

Here's the thing.  It's 8 years later and our marketing ghosts continue to haunt the entire blade industry. 


We reviewed some customer research last week from June 2008 (yes, last month) with Forrester Research, and we asked a very simple question to people who still haven't bought a single blade system.  "Why not?"


Can you guess what they said? 


"I don't have a space problem."  "Blades = space savings.  I have lots of space, so I don't need blades. Done. End of story. Next question please."


Most of these folks took a look at early blades in 2001 and admittedly, saw a lot of holes.  My, oh my how they remember the holes!  Their mind was made up.  "Blades are too hot."  "Blades cost more."  "Blades are under-featured."  "I have a plenty of floor space."  These myths continue to live on despite a remarkable transformation over the past decade of blade technology and a lot of data and experience to the contrary. 


The fact is, no one changes their mind.  A decision made, is a decision made.  But you can give them a different perspective. In the tech world, if you get the introduction wrong - either the wrong message, the wrong product or at the wrong time, there is no turning back.  Ask Microsoft.


My point today is not really about blades, it's about first impressions (and how the wrong one can keep you up at night for years).  The beginning of every marketing discussion is all about first impressions.  They are so important because they stick like microwaved duct tape.


If you get it wrong, or take a narrow view, or don't crawl inside the skin of the customer to find and communicate the real, felt need your solution solves - you will be haunted for many, many years with the ghosts of marketing past.  Our mistake in 2001 was focusing on the product, not on the customer.  We wanted so badly to show what an engineering marvel it was that we didn't spend enough time to understand how it could really help the customer.  (I like to think we are learning.)


My advice: 


1. Don't launch half-baked.  If you think you will have a killer product in 6 months, wait 6 months.
2. Talk to as many customers as possible.  Do this well before you launch.
3. Test the message.  Then test it again.  (and I don't mean with paid analysts, but with real people in the real world)


If you nail that first impression and are crisp, clear and aimed at the root of that felt need, you'll have a great launch.  But, you never get a second chance.


The good news for this insomniac technology marketer?  There's still plenty of work to be had to help customers evaluate blades for their business and to articulate the relevant story behind blades.  (Like I said, I like to think we've learned something.)


Sweet dreams,
Jason 

Will SAS be the new enterprise storage standard?

Yesterday, Lee Johns blogged about some interesting new storage solutions based on Serial Attached SCSI (SAS).  I did some digging and found some good resources if you want to learn more about SAS.


The first is our collection of white papers, articles and presentations to share with others.  You can see the full list here.


The other thing I found for you is a presentation from the SCSI Trade Association; the consortium behind the SAS standard.  It has a good overview (if a bit dated) of what SAS is and why it could become the new enterprise storage standard.


For those of you with plans Friday night, here are the cliff notes:


1. Performance – 3G serial links, wide ports


2. Effective Tiered Storage Solutions

– Mixes Performance & Capacity optimized drives


3. “Pay-as-you-grow” scalability

– Scale capacity, performance, reliability & availability


4. Effective way to Share Storage

– Legacy SCSI Boot, Low Cost, High Perf., Blade Friendly


5. Solid Infrastructure Investment

– Enclosures, Connectors, cables, testers, education, components


Do you have more reasons for SAS?  Let's hear 'em.

Labels: SAS

Silly Rabbit, PODs are for Data Centers

Today, our colleagues announced the Performance Optimized Datacenter (POD), basically, an all-in-one datacenter delivered to your door in a 40 foot shipping container. 


To me, PODs create an interesting question for the future of technology buyers (and marketers).


If PODs become a data center standard, will anyone care what's inside?  The team packed the POD with the 18 essential vitamins and minerals CIOs demand and the great taste system admins love.  So how much do the individual technologies inside of a POD really matter as long as it delivers?

POD Cereal

Intel and AMD spend millions and millions of dollars to get the world to care what processor is inside the server.  Do you remember the days when we actually cared if something went from 1.2Ghz to 1.4Ghz?  Now the game is 'how many cores', but the processor choice just doesn't seem that big of a deal any more.


Will PODs change the way companies think about buying technology equipment?  Perhaps the PODs of the future will just have the technology equivalent of cereal box nutrition label on the outside and a flashy box to reel you in.


Rather than choose the storage, server, and network brands and features individually, it seems likely that you would review the ingredients and order up your daily allowance of capacity, compute and bandwidth based on the label.


I don't know if we'll ever get the point in technology marketing that we become cereal marketers (no pun intended), but it's an interesting future to ponder nevertheless.


Jason

Virtualization in simple language

If you read our blog on a regular basis, you know that we really like the idea of simple.  In my case, I'm the marketing guy, so I'm always looking for new ways to convey the value of very complex or very new technology in the most simple way.


Tonight, I ran across a presentation called "The Buzz on Virtualization".   It's an attempt to explain virtualization in simple language.  If you're an absolute, no-nothing, virtualization novice; start with this presentation.  Otherwise, the rest of this blog is more an examination of technical marketing than technical learning.


First a disclaimer: I think this presentation stinks. (Sorry Barry, nothing personal.) Especially for one that was submitted for the "World's Best Presentation Contest."  I also wouldn't really recommend it for anyone other than my mother if she asked me "What's virtualization?" 


Nevertheless, I will give this presentation a solid E for effort. It does a good job of trying to speak in a visual language, it had 3 big points and generally kept to 1 idea per slide.  Overall, I think the messages are pretty good.





SlideShare

Here's the point of this post: What do you think? 


In the high tech, business to business world is this type of presentation going in the right direction or the wrong one?  Do you want the spec sheet and white paper on slides or do you expect something different from presentations?  Almost every presentation I see from the top IT vendors (HP too) are almost identical, other than the different logos on the slide.  Is this conformity, wisdom or mediocrity?  


Jason


PS: If you really want to know why I think it stinks, comment below and I'll give you my full monty review.  Maybe I'll give some tips too.



Shorty gets new threads

My friend and colleague Rob Cashman was at the WW Microsoft Partner Conference last week and snapped this pic of a pimped out Shorty (aka, BladeSystem c3000), complete with flames.  This was part of a special promotion for Microsoft resellers to learn more about the benefits of blades for small businesses.Pimped c3000

Have you personalized your BladeSystem infrastructure?  Send me jason.newton@hp.com a quick shot of your Shorty hookup and I'll post them. 


Jason

One million and counting


1,000,000.  One million.  106.  No matter how you write it, that is a big number.  I've never tried to count to one million.  But now we have sold our millionth blade server; which is cause for reflection.


We created our blades products on the conviction that there was a better way to make IT infrastructure work.  We knew from customers that deploying, managing and changing IT was challenging, time-consuming, expensive, and power hungry.  It was this desire to help solve these challenges that lead us to create the BladeSystem that we offer today.


People's opinions vary on why customers have bought over a million blades from HP.  Some people think it stems from Shorty's presidential run (after all there is some attraction to a candidate with a proven track record of saving time, cost, and energy!).  Others think that BladeSystem is just a cool product.  Perhaps it is cutting-edge products like our 2-in-1 ProLiant BL2x220c blade server.


As for me, I think customers like the time-saving, cost-saving, and energy-saving technologies built into BladeSystem.  They like having a single point of infrastructure from which they can deploy their various servers and applications.  They like the intuitive way BladeSystem is deployed and managed.


In any case, we are glad that we are able to help customers.  We are happy whenever BladeSystem can be a part of addressing their biggest pain points.  We are excited to be the first to achieve this milestone.  But we are not done yet on helping customers reduce costs and energy; to make BladeSystem faster to deploy, manage and change. 


 So hang onto your hats - we have a lot still to come!


 Gary

Shorty for President?

I know the HP BladeSystem c3000 is popular, but this is getting out of hand. 



Jason

 

PS: He may not know much about foreign policy, but he can save energy, money and time in your server room.

A customer viewpoint on Dell blades vs HP blades

I ran across a blog post from one of our customers who wanted to see if the grass was greener on Dell's side of the blade fence. I thought some other folks out there might like to see his perspective and thought process.


You can read it here on the Technophilia blog.


His big takeaway is something we've been evangelizing for a while -- the heart and soul of blade benefits come from better ways to manage and connect to the the LAN and SAN.  Gary did a great job explaining our philosophy in his post Why we created Virtual Connect about simplicity and and helping admins be self-sufficient.  Lee Johns also touched on this the other day in part 1 and part 2 of his storage Q&A.


The fact is, if you choose to go with pass-throughs or patch panels to connect your blades to your networks, you are barely scratching the surface of the potential of your blade infrastructure. 


Jason

Part 2: Q&A on blades and storage

In my last post, I promised to talk more about the big picture regarding storage for your bladed infrastructure.  Once your blade infrastructure is established, you have already gone through an exhaustive analysis of how it will save you money & benefit your business.   You deployed one or more applications and justified the blade purchase based on ROI. So what’s next!?!  Is this as good as it gets!?! If you’re at this point, my best advice and only advice to you: “THINK STORAGE”!   (it's what we are thinking A LOT about)What I mean is think about new possibilities with better integration of your blade infrastructure with storage. 

  • What if you could build an integrated a self contained "datacenter in a box" for your remote sites where servers, storage and data protection were fully integrated into one box, managed locally or remotely. 

  • What if you could remove the drives from the servers and create a shared pool without having to use the existing SAN infrastucture which may be costly or complex?" 

  • How could you utilize the spare slots in your enclosure for storage infrastructure that is plug and play simple.

  • What if you could build a server that has a drive capacity beyond the traditional constraints you find with rack and tower servers" 
At HP we have been thinking about these questions and more for a while - ever since we introduced the first generation of storage blades for the "Datacenter in a box" customer 9 months ago.  Since then, many customers in smaller businesses and replicated remote sites have used this solution to transform their infrastructure.  With all of this feedback, we discovered that there is so much more untapped potential out there, so stay tuned!

 Regards,


Lee

Why we created Virtual Connect

One of the key capabilities we offer on BladeSystem is Virtual Connect.  Virtual Connect is a very powerful technology that allows customers to be self-sufficient.  Not surprisingly, competitors have since begun offering products with similar sounding names or features as that of Virtual Connect.  But in reality, they are very different.

 

When we developed Virtual Connect, we were really thinking of how to simplify how customers connect their servers to LANs and SANs.  Customers have told us that the server administrators have difficulty with adds/changes of servers, because there is an interdependency of the server configurations to the LANs and SANs.  Adding a server, moving a server, or swapping out a server requires the LAN administrator to reprogram LAN switches, the SAN administrator to reprogram switches, and the storage administrator to modify the storage LUN presentation.  We wanted to develop a product that would allow the server administrator to be self-sufficient in managing the server infrastructure. 

 

Virtual Connect provides a clean separation between the servers and the LAN and SAN.  Virtual Connect allows customers to add, remove, or change servers without requiring corresponding changes to the LAN or SAN.  This results in server adds or changes to be implemented in minutes instead of days or weeks, and makes everyone more time efficient.  Virtual Connect controls the LAN connections – MAC addresses, VLAN connections, and PXE – as well as SAN connections – WWIDs, zones, and boot parameters – to allow the complete LAN and SAN connection information to be tied to a server or server bay. 

 

Dell and IBM have both come out with products that have features or names that sound sort of like Virtual Connect, but the similarity stops there.  They do not provide a clean separation between the servers and the LAN and SAN.  They force customers to either choose pass-through modules with many cables or enclosure switches, which results in many switches to manage.  These products allow MAC address and WWID modification, but this does not make the server administrator self-sufficient.  If a MAC address is moved from one server to another, the VLANs are still tied to the old server.  This change requires the LAN administrator to reprogram a switch.  The same goes for fibre channel zone information, which requires SAN administrator intervention to reprogram SAN switches.  As a result, these products fail the basic test of enabling server administrators to be self-sufficient – they still require all three teams to get involved in making a change.

 

We did not develop Virtual Connect for the sake of having a MAC address migration feature, which does nothing to simplify server connection information to be moved from one server to another.  We designed Virtual Connect to make server administrators more self-sufficient.  We wanted to make BladeSystem useful for you, and Virtual Connect is a key technology that enables this.


 

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About the Author(s)
  • More than 25 years in the IT industry developing and managing marketing programs. Focused in emerging technologies like Virtualization, cloud and big data.
  • I work within EMEA ISS Central team and a launch manager for new products and general communications manager for EMEA ISS specific information.
  • Hello! I am a social media manager for servers, so my posts will be geared towards HP server-related news & info.
  • HP Servers, Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and ExpertOne
  • WW responsibility for development of ROI and TCO tools for the entire ISS portfolio. Technical expertise with a financial spin to help IT show the business value of their projects.
  • I am a member of the HP BladeSystem Portfolio Marketing team, so my posts will focus on all things blades and blade infrastructure. Enjoy!
  • Luke Oda is a member of the HP's BCS Marketing team. With a primary focus on marketing programs that support HP's BCS portfolio. His interests include all things mission-critical and the continuing innovation that HP demonstrates across the globe.
  • Global Marketing Manager with 15 years experience in the high-tech industry.
  • Network industry experience for more than 20 years - Data Center, Voice over IP, security, remote access, routing, switching and wireless, with companies such as HP, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Novell.
  • 20 years of marketing experience in semiconductors, networking and servers. Focused on HP BladeSystem networking supporting Virtual Connect, interconnects and network adapters.
  • Greetings! I am on the HP Enterprise Group marketing team. Topics I am interested in include Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and Management, and HP BladeSystem.
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