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I have been following the whole concept and marketing momentum around Converged Infrastructure within HP. When I first started looking at this initiative, like many people I was waiting to see how it would come out, see how real it was. I have been very pleased with what I have seen and in fact believe that HP Integrity servers operating in a converged infrastructure will have enhanced performance. If you have time, take a look at the upcoming Converged Infrastructure Event. It will give you a view of this initiative.
I'll tell you what I think.
I've talked to enough customers and sales reps dealing with performance problems to know that there are many facets to this issue. Most customers don't really care what hardware they're running the application on as long it runs well. But they really care if they see response times creep up, lagging processing time, or any of the other myriad of problems that occur if a system infrastructure is operating sub-optimally. Poor performance is NOT due to the fact that your server runs a benchmark 10% lower than someone elses - it will typically be because there are more deepset issues - lack of I/O, not enough memory, poor virtualization and workload management implementation, application-to-server sizing problems. With real workloads in real-world situations, HP Integrity is a good platform. Operating in a Converged Infrastructure with external bottlenecks removed, it will be a great platform.
What if you really could create pools of computing, storage, and networking resources that could be applied to your important key workloads when and where needed? What if it this could happen via a simple service request that was automatically implemented? That's what the Converged Infrastructure is all about. Take a look.
One of the really fascinating things is how server performance would be impacted by a Converged Infrastructure. With all resources balanced, all bottlenecks should be removed or more limited, optimizing effective performance. Let;s keep an eye on this. I am optimistic that HP is getting it right and that customers will respond with enthusiasm.
Ever since the original T500 shipped, HP has been producing high end servers to handle large workloads. Most folks in IT understand that to handle these larger workloads you need a server with good processor performance and lots of I/O. Today’s HP Integrity Superdome servers are excellent high end workload platforms that are used in many enterprises for the most demanding requirements. Many customers are pleased by the capability of Integrity servers, just as one telecom customer discovered as they replaced their Sun Fire 25K (144 processors) with an HP Integrity Superdome with 96 processors. Even with two-thirds the number or processors, this customer found that the HP system had 200% higher I/O performance.
Hewlett Packard has designed Integrity servers with the objective of maximizing both processor throughput and system I/O. If you look at some of the popular published benchmarks used to compare platform capability, you might get a different view of system performance. System I/O is not generally benchmarked, but is of significant importance during peak workload time periods and many times is the reason that servers are undersized at time of acquisition. HP’s competitors tend to build their systems to maximize benchmark performance, many times ignoring customer requirements. This sometimes causes some red-faces after the system has been sized and installed, and workload performance is not up to expectation. The bottom line is that many customers that have run their own proof of concept tests or internal bake-offs with real workloads have been very happy with the performance of HP Integrity servers running Intel Itanium processors relative to other vendors’ hardware platforms.
To close out this entry, I wanted to check to see if anyone else has seen this same phenomenon regarding server sizing, workload performance, and I/O. I will talk about balanced performance topics in the future as well.