Eye on Blades Blog: Trends in Infrastructure
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Daniel Bowers On Day 2 of HP Blades Tech Day

Day #2 of the Infrastructure Software and Blades Tech Days got off to an early start, with an 8AM Q&A session (hosted in a room with working wireless, whew).   No zinger questions from the bloggers in the session (I'm very  disappointed, Kevin!!)    Yesterday's Tolly Report did come up, though.


Next was a discussion on client virtualization.  As a server guy,  I sometimes feel pained to think that my precious server CPU cycles are being used to power client OS's, but HP's Joseph George convinced me that the economics of VDI override my server-centric concerns.


We stepped out of the meeting room for a quick tour of one of the blade labs, and I got a chance to catch up with John Obeto.  Did you know that, in addition to all his clients here in the US, John also does IT work in Nigeria?   I don't think I've ever met as good an advocate for WIndows as John.  Despite his outrage at me for admitting that my only experience with Windows 7 was on a VM running on top of Ubuntu, John was kind enough to spend  a few minutes on video talking about training IT staff, and the rack server-versus-blade server debate, so I'll post that soon.


The tour of the factory was probably the high point of the event.  We had to hike a bit to get from the building where blades are engineered to the building where they're built and integrated, but most of the guys had their cameras out as we came onto the factory floor.  Actually it was two different buildings: One where servers are assembled, and a second where rack configurations with custom configs get integrated and tested.


In the first building, Simon Seagrave tried his hand at assembly, slapping a server hood label sticker onto Greg Knieriemen's jacket. 



As we were led through the aisles of servers and racks in various stages of assembly & integration, one of the things that impressed me (and others) was the awesome cable routing the factory guys do inside the integrated racks.


Next, Jean Brandau of HP led us outsite to the HP POD final test area, a pair of covered bays that are used for run-in tests of the 20' and 40' Performance Optimized Datacenters (aka data center in a shipping container).  The bays held up to 7 PODs, and today, there were three; a 20' POD (holding up to 10 racks) and two 40' PODs (each with up to 22 racks).   Kevin asked Jean what the primary use case was for PODs, and she said that rapid capacity expansion was the main reason customers installed PODs.  She gave the example of a company needing to quickly ramp up capabilities to take advantage of the rise from a recovering economy.


Tex-Mex food for lunch.  Frank Owen somehow convinced me to try the "special red sauce" on my chips...I guess I'll know in a couple of hours whether that was a good idea. Martin MacLoeod gave me some insightful anecdotes that pointed to the need for simple inventory survey tools.  (He gave me some other ideas, too, which I plan on stealing -- I mean leveraging -- soon.)


A big thanks to all the guys below for spending the last couple of days with us...looking forward to the next one!


The ISB Blades Tech Day attendees:


Stephen Foskett, Pack Rat http://blog.fosketts.net/
Simon Seagrave, Tech Head http://www.techhead.co.uk/
Martin MacLoeod, Blade Watch http://www.bladewatch.com/
Rich Brambley, VM/ETC http://vmetc.com/
Frank Owen, Tech Virtuoso  http://techvirtuoso.com/
Greg Knieriemen, Storage Monkey http://www.storagemonkeys.com
John Obeto, Absolutely Windows http://absolutelywindows.com/
Chris M. Evans, Storage Architect http://www.thestoragearchitect.com/
Devang Panchigar, StorageNerve http://storagenerve.com/
Kevin Houston, Blades Made Simple  http://bladesmadesimple.com/

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.

From #HPTF: Pondering the HP POD

I found the HP POD to be one of the most compelling demo areas at this weeks' HP Technology Forum. Being able to emerse yourself in the POD and touch and feel what it takes to deploy and support 3000 or more systems is amazing.  Every detail has to be thought through: the airflow, the power and backup, redundancy, security of the container, the cooling, networking, serviceability and on and on.  All integrated on an impressive scale.


Here is a presentation we put together about the HP POD from the show floor.  We call it the "plain English" version.


It was interesting to see and hear the reactions of different customers to the prospect of a POD-enabled future.  My first thought was "cool!".  But, more than once I overheard the word "scary".  It turns out, that it wasn't a negative comment but more of a feeling of nostaligic dread that comes with technological change.  Kind of like when parents think of their children growing up in a Twitter-connected world.  It may or may not be bad, but the prospect is, well, "scary" but the perspective of the parent and the child are radically different.   The role of the POD in the data center of the future has some big implications.  Good or bad is a matter of perspective. 


Those that called the POD scary said the ultra-efficient, lights-out capability of the POD raises the bar for everyone.  When you see PUE's of less than 1.25, and power densities in the 20+kW range, you realize where we all are headed.  The days of racking and stacking taking up a big portion of your week are coming to an end.   One guy was even worried about spending his whole day inside of POD.  I think he was missing the point of lights-out,  you shouldn't need to go inside the POD any more than you need to crawl around inside a server all day long.  Some day, will anyone ever go inside the data center again?   Will you be at the same site as your systems? Will it be designed for humans at all?


I didn't have a chance to speak with any CIO-types, but I wonder if they'd have a different point of view, one more oriented to the macroeconomics of the data center.  The CIO's perspective on the POD would likely be of CapEx and OpEx, not wondering how you get all the cables in the rack.  At the end of the day, IT is simply a combination of services need to support and enable the business. The IT infrastructure is the simply the capacity needed to deliver those services.   When you think that way, why would you spend resources doing in yourself.  If you need the services of transportation, you buy a car.  Building your own from scratch just doesn't make good economic sense.  


Any CIO's out there today?  What are your thoughts?  We'd love to hear them.

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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 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
  • Hello! I am a social media manager for servers, so my posts will be geared towards HP server-related news & info.
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  • 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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