HP answers Cisco with Matrix; Data center visions galore

Hewlett-Packard on Monday unveiled its answer to making data centers more modular and more cost effective and the target is pretty clear: Cisco Systems.HP's latest entry into the data center wars is dubbed the BladeSystem Matrix and Matrix Orchestration Environment.

Hewlett-Packard on Monday unveiled its answer to making data centers more modular and more cost effective and the target is pretty clear: Cisco Systems.

HP's latest entry into the data center wars is dubbed the BladeSystem Matrix and Matrix Orchestration Environment. These products reside in HP's Adaptive Infrastructure portfolio. The upshot: HP is combining software, storage, server and networking gear to automate data centers. 

The Matrix Orchestration Environment rides on top of this infrastructure to deploy applications and manage them. While HP executives weren't naming names it was pretty clear the company is looking to fend off Cisco, which has its server lineup launching in the second quarter. Indeed, HP is arguing that Matrix can consolidate network equipment, Cisco's specialty. Overall, HP is boasting that Matrix can consolidate data center equipment at a 4-to-1 ratio.  

Jim Ganthier, HP vice president of marketing for infrastructure software and blades, said the goal is to undo 30 years of "the standard way of doing data centers." In a briefing, Ganthier kept coming back to the same point: HP's Matrix is available today. 

If this effort sounds a bit familiar it is. Cisco’s entry into the server market and plans for the data center—dubbed the Unified Computing System—has headlined a bevy of announcements from IT giants. Dell has its simplify the data center strategySun has its cloud plan and new servers as does IBM, which offers cloud computing services.

Ganthier said that HP is aiming to eliminate “islands of IT” to create resource pools of computing, network and storage capabilities.

The good news: Data centers are increasingly going to be designed in modular parts. The bad news: Buyers are going to have to pick through these various approaches from the big data center vendors. 

HP is also arguing that its Matrix effort can simplify capacity planning, disaster recovery and provisioning. HP says that it can cut operational costs by 79 percent with payback in 8 months. Here's the footnote:

Based on a three-year return on investment/total cost of ownership analysis using HP/Alinean HP Insight Dynamics – VSE Suite for HP ProLiant Servers ROI Calculator, consolidating 320 rack-mount servers to 64 server blades in an HP BladeSystem Matrix.  

Cisco last week also served up ROI calculations for its data center efforts. Overall, IT buyers may want to spend some time perusing footnotes as vendors kick around ROI figures. 

Here's a look at some of the parts of HP's Matrix:

  • HP's announcement is heavy on storage architecture. The biggest takeaway is that HP is now rolling out the products via its acquisition of LeftHand Networks last year. 
  • The storage lineup includes: HP LeftHand P4000 SAN solutions, HP StorageWorks SB40c with P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance Software bundle, HP StorageWorks 600 Modular Disk System, and HP Insight Capacity Advisor Virtualization Services. The idea is to cater to virtual data centers and the storage systems that feed them. 
  • BladeSystem Matrix is promising a four to one network equipment consolidation and a 45 percent reduction in server and software costs.
  • Matrix includes new networking gear, including the Virtual Connect 8GB Fibre Channel and Flex-10 Ethernet modules. 
  • HP is offering virtualization services under the Matrix umbrella.