Management, and the automation of management tasks in particular, looks set to become the battleground on which server vendors will differentiate their products in coming months. At least that's the way it seems following announcements of product line refreshes from both HP and Dell, scheduled to follow the imminent release of next-generation Intel processors.
HP was the first to go public, announcing its intention to release an eighth generation (Gen8) of its ProLiant platform, emphasising manageability and automation as key features.
Collectively referred to as the HP ProActive Insight architecture, these features will be built-in, including extensions to the "sea of sensors" technology already included on most ProLiant motherboards, plus an embedded lifecycle controller — much like that introduced by Dell some time ago.
There will also be technology to facilitate self-monitoring of server hardware to identify and fix problems without operator intervention. There's even talk of GPS support to make it easier to, for example, find faulty hardware in large datacentres.
Dell's response to the HP announcement was to take some of the wraps off its 12th generation of PowerEdge servers and, similarly, talk up management and datacentre automation features. To this end, Dell will build on its existing lifecycle controller technology and move to a new generation of integrated management controller (iDRAC 7), with auto-discovery of new servers among the new options.
Non-disclosure agreements with processor vendor Intel are preventing more detailed information being released. However, that looks set to change with the official launch of Intel's new Xeon E5 (Romley) platform set for next Tuesday (6 March), which will no doubt bring a slew of products from HP, Dell and others in its wake.