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HP imagines computing matrix future

C7000 Hewlett-Packard says its customers don't care what resources are inside a piece of its BladeSystem server arrays. At the recent HP Technology Forum, the vendor showed off a management console connected to an array of blades on the expo floor. HP Marketing Communications Manager Jason Newton said in an HP blog posting that the customers are more impressed at how much manipulation the vendor offered in the Matrix Orchestration Environment for a blade array like the c7000 above.

At the Matrix booth, I was curious what customers saw.  No one wanted to see inside the server, the enclosure, the switch. It didn't matter. That's just the pool of resources. The "WOW" came from how easy it was to design the architecture, do capacity planning, combine virtual and physical, set up disaster recovery and automate provisioning of complex infrastructure. Configuring and provisioning the network, storage, and compute "just happen" within the Matrix. Right on! One infrastructure, any workload, on the fly. That's the future the private cloud delivers to your data center.

A "private cloud" might remind HP 3000 customers of a virtual private network. But it seems a stretch to imagine 3000 community members who have always shouldered server responsibility thinking that a system doesn't matter. Accepting the promise of cloud computing might demand such refocusing of responsibility, though. Teaching a 20-year IT vet that hardware doesn't matter is a tough lesson.

HP believes it's time to move beyond that level of technology management, applying resource redundancy (multiple blades, abundant storage, extra CPUs) where reliability and resource efficiencies once served. If your hardware is cheap enough, racking up lots of extra processing can get the job done, Newton said.

In that future, you won't care about the stuff inside; only the services delivered, what they costs and how fast you can get them. The future I see coming into focus is the converged infrastructure (melding the best of HP: NonStop, SuperDome, XP, EVA, LeftHand, ProLiant, ProCurve, and BladeSystem) all controlled and interconnected as one. Inside that "matrix cloud." You decide how to carve up the best resources for your workloads and data and Matrix does the rest.

The blog entry did spark one response that diverged from the private cloud promises. It came from a HP customer using OpenVMS, an environment left out of the happy picture of "the best of HP." Ian Miller, an administrator of the openvms.org aggregation site, said "cost will always matter."

For really business-critical stuff, I think people will want to know where it is running and that they have complete control over the environment. No cloud controller, deciding to move your workload at a bad time.

C3000 HP has two kinds of customers working in enterprise IT shops -- those who have built up a career's worth of knowledge about system management, and those who haven't invested that much up to now in this kind of technology savvy. When evaluating the next step away from the HP 3000 model toward something midrange like the c3000 at left, migrating sites need to consider how much value their kind of career knowledge will bring to a new environment. The Matrix Orchestration looks aimed at CIOs who want to push buttons, a very different profile from the 3000 customer who's been responsible for server uptime.

Nothing is free in IT management. It's easy to see how these Matrix solutions can improve computing. But everything is a tradeoff. Some HP customers might not care what's inside a rack. But someone needs to care, right? It's not as simple as sunlight inside those racks.