Proliant blades lead HP charge

ENSA@Work 2003: HP's conference opens with a four-way Proliant blade server, some serious Alpha big iron, and possibly the world's biggest storage area network

Storage and servers from Hewlett-Packard got a boost at the company's ENSA@Work 2003 event in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The headline product announcements included a four-way Proliant blade server claimed as the world's first and new models in the company's AlphaServer range; and the company's partnerships with SAN leader Brocade and Microsoft got new strength.

Nearly 4,000 people are expected at this year's event. It has grown from a storage-only show run by Compaq to one that covers all enterprise technology from Hewlett-Packard, which merged with Compaq last year.

One highlight of the show is a multi-vendor storage area network (SAN) believed to be the world's largest, with 1,000 Fibre Channel ports, 15 different kinds of server and 10 operating systems. This will include the first live demonstration of Microsoft's Volume ShadowCopy Services (VSS) a storage feature of Windows Server 2003. The show SAN also has HP's own Contionuous Access Storage Application (CASA), which replicates across multiple storage appliances.

"HP is the leading IT vendor in EMEA," claimed EMEA general manager Olaf Swantee in an opening press conference, showing figures that give it $6.78bn (£4.2bn) revenue in 2002, compared with IBM's $5.88bn. Services is the only area where HP sees IBM ahead. Swantee claimed that HP had installed more than half of the world's SANs.

The new AlphaServers can scale up to 2,000 of the new EV7 Alpha processors. Alpha dates from Compaq's previous purchase, Digital Equipment, and the ENSA event promises to include a clarification of the processor's future in an HP that is more and more firmly committed to Intel. The GS1280, ES80 and ES47 are enterprise, departmental and workgroup servers respectively, promising two times the processing power and ten times the I/O of previous AlphaServers.

HP claims that the 15,000 blade servers it has already shipped account for more than half the worldwide total sold by all vendors. The BL40p is the world's first four-way p-class Proliant server, said Swantee, and includes direct connection to SANs.

The company promised "architectural framework for intelligent virtualisation of storage on existing network fabric" jointly with Brocade.

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