HP touts virtual savings, flexibility

Hewlett-Packard's Virtual Connect Flex-10 aims to save users up to 55 percent of virtual network equipment costs and better allocate Ethernet bandwidth.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

Hewlett-Packard announced Monday a new virtualization technology that it claims is an industry first in helping customers achieve savings and greater flexibility in virtual environments and data centers.

More companies are deploying server virtualization to achieve cost savings, but at the same time the cost of networking virtual machines is increasing, said HP. Companies also find themselves investing in additional networking equipment such as network expansion cards, switches and cables.

Asia still spending on data centers

Data center spending in Asia may be impacted by a global economic slowdown, but many businesses in the region are still looking to improve the efficiency of their data centers, and even building new facilities, according to a Hewlett-Packard executive.
Problems with data centers exist in nearly every city in Asia, said Tony Parkinson, vice president for enterprise storage and servers at Hewlett-Packard Asia-Pacific and Japan. "There isn't a country that I know of where we haven't got some sort of a project going on--replacing, upgrading, refreshing, analyzing some aspects of the data center."
Server efficiency studies are in "huge demand" in the region, said Parkinson. "A lot of customers don't even know where their problems are; they know they've got a problem, but they don't know where to start."
Data center assessments are frequently requested for in the Philippines, where electricity tariffs are one of the highest in the world, he noted. Over in India, there has been a fair bit of interest in portable data centers.
To better help customers in the region, HP plans to introduce a consultancy service which has already been rolled out in the United States, that advises customers on which cities are ideal for building data centers.

The thrust of the new HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 is "taking cost out of infrastructure", Tony Parkinson, vice president for enterprise storage and servers at Hewlett-Packard Asia-Pacific and Japan, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview last week. The technology combines the Virtual Connect capabilities of adding or replacing new servers "on-the-fly" using LAN and SAN pre-sets, with the new ability to "divide up a 10 gigabit Ethernet bandwidth ", he added.

Customers that utilize the Flex-10 technology can realize savings of up to 55 percent in network equipment costs, according to HP.

"Effectively, what we're doing with Flex-10 technology is quadrupling the number of NIC (network interface card) network connections, and that's huge cost savings and flexibility for our customers, with the ability to fine-tune the network bandwidth," he explained. "Not everybody needs 10Gb Ethernet--the ability to divide that up into multiple gigabit Ethernet segments is really the message here, that nobody else can do.

"A lot of customers are saying, 'I'm not going to deploy a 10Gb network, but if you're telling me I can take a 10Gb link, carve it up and make into multiple gigabit networks, then that's pretty cool'," said Singapore-based Parkinson.

There is also significant power savings from the consolidation of NICs and switches, he pointed out, noting that high network power consumption is a pain point of current virtual infrastructure. "The great thing about Flex-10 is the number of NICs doesn't change in our architecture, whereas in a Cisco switch infrastructure you have to add more and more, and obviously the power consumption there goes up quite dramatically."

HP also unveiled Monday the new ProLiant DL385 G5p rack server optimized for virtualization, priced at US$2,259. Based on AMD's new Shanghai Opteron processor, the hardware comes with up to 6TB of storage and a memory capacity of up to 128MB--double that of the previous generation.

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