HP works its storage options wider
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New ProLiant blade servers get IO flexibility

HP announced the new G7 generation of ProLiant rack servers and BladeServers at the HP Technology Forum, Linux/Windows systems that give IT managers immediate configuration flexibility.

The hardware, expected to ship early in the third quarter, adds new Virtual Connect FlexFabric IO adapters. The feature lets a manager change the type of host bus adapter on the fly, from Ethernet to iSCSI to Fibre Channel.

HP Blade Architect Gary Thome said the BladeSystem advancements were the most significant in the four years since the blades' C3000 chassis was introducted. HP recently sold its 2 millionth blade server, he added. The uplift on this option for 3000 sites migrating to Windows comes from features to reduce IT sprawl with last-minute configuration.

"It allows customers to decide at the last minute what the server configuration will be," Thome said. HP called the rack-mounted systems "scale-up" servers, nouveau terminology that might be better known as "distributed" in the language of the HP 3000 system manager.

The DL980 is an 8-scoket server that supports up to 2TB of RAM, while the BL680C is a BladeSystem supporting up to 1TB. The new systems have 20-80 Gbits of FlexFabric IO on the motherboard. They also use a new architecture that lets a system administrator keep virtual machines online even while one goes down with a non-correctible error.

Virtual Connect FlexFabric is HP's module to connect servers to any Fibre Channel, Ethernet or iSCSI network. The last-second capability requires a pair of Virtual Connect modules. Administrators can modify the number of adapters from between 2 to 8, plus allocate different, unequal bandwidths for each adapter. Thome called Virtual Connect "wire-once" technology, where the blade systems arrive physically wired and can be reconfigured "in minutes instead of month." The modules will start at $18,500 and ship in the third quarter.

A new Prima Architecture isolates virtual machines that have developed the non-correctable faults, lets admins isolate and take them down and then restart them while the remainder of the virtual machines continue to operate. Prior models of the ProLiant line, including last year's G6, required a restart of all VMs if one developed such an error.

The three new rack-mount ProLiant scale-up servers deliver “self-healing” memory capabilities to maximize application uptime. HP said the DL980 is 200 percent more available than the G5 generation DL785.

Seven new ProLiant G7 server blades offer the industry's first blade with both 1 TB of memory and integrated 10Gb Virtual Connect FlexFabric technology for IO scalability. Thome said the architecture must do more than deliver CPU speed for balanced performance, extending beyond processor advances to expanded memory and IO capacity. HP says these systems can support up to four times more virtual machines than competitive blades, while requiring 66 percent less hardware.

A new Intelligent Power Discovery feature is part of the G7 line, creating an "energy-aware network" between the ProLiant rack-mount units, third-party tools and datacenter power grids. HP said that a company can save up to $5,000 per server over a year's time in energy costs through the network's provisioning. HP's calculations are based on a 1,000-server "midsize" datacenter, capping and recovering 200 watts per server on average.

HP also introduced a solution that lets datacenter managers provision resources on an application level. BladeSystem Matrix, working in conjunction with the HP Server Automation software, lets customers "snap their fingers and it happens" while provisioning, based on a server template an administrator draws. HP calls the technology an essential part of "private clouds" comprised of servers and storage. BladeSystem Matrix's latest version starts at $150,000 and ships in mid-July.