HP delivered a lot of detail about its new corporate datacenters when HP CTO Randy Mott spoke at this summer's HP Technology Forum. From a high of more than 80 datacenters worldwide, HP has consolidated to six. But two were in the predicted path of Hurricane Ike this weekend, a storm which made landfall with 110 MPH winds east of Galveston.
The datacenters in Texas sit in Austin, 150 miles from the Gulf Coast, and in Houston, many miles closer to that landfall. At one point Friday the predicted path of the storm would have carried Ike across both centers. In a bit of luck for Texas HP operations, the hurricane swirled its most deadly eastern wall outside of the HP datacenter's reach in Houston.
Here in Austin, we didn't even get rain from the storm. HP's corporate media relations spokeswoman Emma McCulloch gave a brief confirmation that the hurricane had no impact on HP's Texas data processing. "HP Data Centers continue to operate normally, and no issues have been reported," she said. When we asked where the power is coming from to operate the facility, she added, "We are providing no further details."
The datacenters do contain a few HP 3000 servers, even after six years of HP's migration away from the server for its own IT operations. But stories of HP 3000s running in flood waters are already common, so long as the power survives. But it has not in the Houston area.
The power is out in much of the Greater Houston area even today, millions of customers with no electricity 48 hours after landfall. But those HP operations continue without interruption. The disaster resistance was not the focus of Mott's tour of the centers, however. Hewlett-Packard wanted to show the customers in Las Vegas how much more efficient and flexible a consolidated data operation could be for a company of HP's size.
Size matters in such consolidations, because like every rule of the economy of scale, there's more economy to be earned for more scale. HP completely exited 57 datacenters since the project began in 2005, Mott said. Dynamic Smart Cooling provided an energy savings of 10 to 15 percent all on its own. Overall, by closing more than 75 percent of its datacenters through this year, HP realized a 60 percent reduction in energy costs.
Mott didn't detail the redundancy operations for the massive datacenters which received thousands of data feeds daily using NeoView. But external disaster recovery sites always seem like a great idea here in the Gulf area between August and October. Ike traveled as far as Ohio to deliver damage.
A disaster recovery horror story unfolded right here in Austin some time ago, unrelated to Ike but a good example of simple investment sense. A healthcare customer running an HP 3000 and Windows servers had already built a pad and electric service for an external generator to back up local power. As it happened, the building was served by two distinct city lines for power, one to the Windows cubicles and another to the enterprise HP 3000 facility room.
Year after year, the IT manager would submit a relatively minor expense request to put a generator on the pad. Each year, the company's top manager would kick out the request. Then a storm hit and took out power to the building. Well, one half of the building, and by now you can guess which half had no service. Yes, the Windows desktops could run, but the HP 3000 holding all their data — information to serve thousands of subscribers and providers, lay inert after it exhausted its UPS.
The generator expense was approved the very next week. Here in Texas we're about 10 days short of the end of our hurricane season, which wraps up on the 24th of September according to weather history. With two major storms striking the national awareness this month, September might be a good time to ensure your DR is well-funded and tested.