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: August 2009

PODs and Hovercraft

Outside of my window, they're pouring the cement on the bays where future HP PODs will be tested.  Here are some pics.

A POD (Performance-Optimized Data center) is a 40-foot container filled with servers, storage, and other IT gear.   HP can build & ship one of these in just 6 weeks.

The large black rectangle in the middle of the first two pics is where PODs will get tested, once they're filled with gear.  Each yellow U-shaped bar will be the end of a 'bay' that supports a container.  So up to 5 will fit into this structure at a time.

Near one edge of the floor, you can see a series of metal pipes sticking up in the ground.  These provide connections for power and chilled water from the two buildings you can see bordering the bays. 

I'm still waiting for my turn to drive the little hovercraft machine they're using to smooth the concrete:

Here's a video of Steve Cumings giving a tour inside a POD.

IDC: Right numbers, wrong words

I read a clip from IDC guy Dan Harrington explaining why he thought the economic downturn crimped x86 server deployments more than Unix server deployments.  "It's easier to freeze purchases on x86 , which are a commodity at this point," he said.
Easier to delay x86 deployment?  Sounds right.   But x86 server = commodity?  Hardly.

Clustering was supposed to commoditize x86 servers.   Then it was utility computing.  Then virtualization.  Then the cloud. Ten years ago, I bought into the Commodity Theory.  Whitebox servers would soon be king of the data center.   x86 is x86, right?   Everyone would soon be slapping Tyan and Asus motherboards into off-the-shelf ATX chassis. 

But that's not what happened.  In fact, the percentage of people using whitebox servers has actually dropped.  A lot.  IDC still predicts more whiteboxes, but their latest full-year estimates (2008) say that whiteboxes make up about 10% of servers deployed today -- down from about 14% five years ago, and something like half of what it was a decade ago.   Server admins have actually been gravitating away from them and toward "fancy" servers from HP, IBM, and Dell. 

Why?  Well, one reason is that the price tags on an entry-level HP or Dell x86 servers have dropped a lot, to the point that assembling your own servers won't save you money.   But lowered cost != commodity.

Clustering, virtualization, and cloud computing actually do better when run on servers that have a few decidedly non-whitebox-style features:

  • OS and ISV certifications

  • Plug-ins and APIs for mainstream management tools

  • Big, knowledgeable user communities who've developed best-practices

  • Around-the-globe support, and "one throat to choke" when issues arise.

  • Automated deployment tools, power capping, and other things that lower operations costs (which can dwarf acquisition costs).

There does seem to be a growing interest in bare-bones servers.  Stuff like the ProLiant SL series and IBM's iDataPlex exemplify this trend.  But these aren't general-purpose servers, and they come with some of those key non-commodity features.

Why can’t we be friends (with apologies to the group ‘War’ and their 1975 hit)

In case you missed it, there has been no shortage of press articles and blog entries about Cisco and HP being in an intense competitive situation.

Lost in all this is what is working well together and heavens knows we could all use some togetherness. So here goes …

HP Virtual Connect and Cisco Nexus work quite well together.

By looking at the spec sheets for Virtual Connect modules you will find that they use standard Ethernet protocols. Take a look at the Cisco Catalyst and Nexus product line specs and you find the same thing. As a result, both Virtual Connect and Cisco Catalyst and Cisco Nexus products work well together. Of course that is what standards are meant to do for customers.

We have tried this ourselves in our labs and lo and behold, these products do indeed connect nicely. And with tens of thousands of Virtual Connect modules sold, many customers are using this happy state of co-existence everyday to their business benefit.

So what are the benefits of this combination? Well, I will let Cisco toot its own horn but I will say that lots of folks use Cisco and that is probably for a good reason.

I am clear on the benefits of Virtual Connect for both server and network teams. VC simplifies connection of servers to LANs and SANs allowing connection changes in minutes, not weeks;  reduces enclosure cables and switch ports up to 94% without adding switches to manage; and cuts complexity and cost with 75% fewer NICs & switches, 66% lower cost, 50% less power when using VC Flex-10.

So now the server team is happy and the network team is happy.

Now that is what I call win-win.

As always,

Michael Kendall

VMware Certification of G6 BladeSystem Servers (ProLiant BL460c, BL490c, BL495c)

We get lots of questions regarding VMware and what HP servers are certified on the various VMware Operating Systems. They do have a Hardware Compatability List (HCL) and we just wanted to let you know which of the latest G6 BladeSystem Servers are on that list for VMware ESX/ESXi 4.0, the latest VMware vSphere Operating System. This is from our VMware alliance team.

"We are pleased to announce that the following servers are now fully certified with VMware ESX/ESXi 4.0.  

 VMware ESX/ESXi 3.5 Update 4 is also certified for these servers.


·         ProLiant BL460c G6

·         ProLiant BL490c G6

·         ProLiant BL495c G5

·         ProLiant BL495c G6


For ESX/ESXi 4.0, these servers require a new Broadcom network driver. The link to download the driver is available at VMware’s HCL page http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl   (there will be a footnote next to the version with the link to the driver) and soon at our HP.COM certification support matrix. www.hp.com/go/vmware (click on “Certified ProLiants”).  Installation information will also be available with the download."

Hope this helps as we work very hard with VMware to certify our servers with their latest Operating Systems. See you at VMworld August 31 - September 3 at The Moscone Center in San Francisco.


Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
Follow Us

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 am a member of the Enterprise Group Global Marketing team blogging on topics of interest for HP Servers. Check out blog posts on all four Server blog sites-Reality Check, The Eye on Blades, Mission Critical Computing and Hyperscale Computing- for exciting news on the future of compute.
  • I work within EMEA HP Servers Central Team as a launch manager for new products and general communications manager for EMEA HP Server specific information. I also tweet @ServerSavvyElla
  • 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.
  • 20 years of marketing experience in semiconductors, networking and servers. Focused on HP BladeSystem networking supporting Virtual Connect, interconnects and network adapters.
  • Working with HP BladeSystem.
  • 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.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.