HP converges on the datacentre

The company has pulled together new and existing products to provide an architecture that aims to streamline sprawling IT infrastructures

HP has launched a suite of datacentre products and services aimed at tidying up the sprawl caused by legacy architecture and technology.

The suite, called HP Converged Infrastructure, consists of management systems for the virtualised datacentre — both hardware and software — and a new network management fabric. The components bring together new technology and existing products from HP.

HP announced its systems for a converged virtualised datacentre on Wednesday, the same day Cisco, EMC and VMware introduced their own Virtual Computing Environment joint venture.

Among the Converged Infrastructure suite's technologies is the new Infrastructure Operating Environment (IOE), which is aimed at helping chief inforamtion officers use automation to build datacentres that can respond quickly to business needs. It is based on HP's existing hardware and virtualisation management package, Systems Insight Manager.

IOE allows IT managers to manage servers, storage, network connections and facility resources. It unifies the tools for infrastructure lifecycle management into a single console, and includes Orchestration Manager, an automation tool for developing self-service portals that allow managers to provision the services they need as required.

In addition, HP has repackaged its datacentre management tools as Data Center Smart Grid (DCSG), which allows the monitoring and control of energy use down to the rack and server levels. An upgrade of HP's Dynamic Smart Cooling technology, which previously worked with a small subset of power conditioning and control units, the system now offers standards-based control, and spans the entire datacentre "from the technology infrastructure to facilities", according to the company.

Another component is the Virtual Resource Pool, which provides virtualised collections of resources including servers, storage and networking. It includes the first iteration of a new scalable file system, iBrix, which was announced earlier this year. Designed for clustered environments, the tool provides access to 16PB of data across up to 4,000 nodes for a cost of $1.80 (£1) per GB.

"It's a big, parallel file management system for scale-out clustering environments," said HP's business services divisional vice president Iain Stephens.

HP's ProCurve and Virtual Connect networking technologies and management tools have been combined and branded as 'FlexFabric'. ProCurve is the brand for HP's hardware and software technology, while Virtual Connect hardware provides a virtual path for networking and storage protocols for each virtual server, out to the switch. HP said that this package allows enterprises to reconfigure the network on the fly, as the changing demands from mobile virtual machines require.

Also new is an update for Neoview, HP's enterprise data-warehousing package, which provides business intelligence and analytics. The new version, Neoview Advantage, includes upgrades for both the software and hardware components, and can process thousands of parallel feeds in real time, according to HP. The system now sits on HP's Integrity BladeSystem, is twice as fast and occupies only 40 percent of the space of earlier versions.

Neoview Advantage will be available in January.

To accompany the Converged Infrastructure technology, HP introduced implementation, design and other consulting services. The move follows HP's acquisition last year of services company EDS, which was renamed HP Enterprise Services in September.

The integration of HP's services offering with its technology lineup brings the company into line with arch-rival IBM, whose Global Services division has long been its most profitable. The move has been mirrored by Dell — also keen to boost revenues in a declining hardware market — in its just-finalised purchase of Perot Systems.