Database migrator adds open sources
Volunteer server acts as time machine

Shaping server use and power at HP's IT

Community members are still interested in how HP uses its enterprise systems, especially how much 3000 computing is in place even in 2011. There's been speculation that so long as HP needs support for internal systems it may be using, the "end of life" for the 3000 will not occur.

Garry Smith, director of information systems at the Charles McMurray Company, asked if we can "investigate how many HP 3000s are being used by HP internally for their ordering and fulfillment (parts)?  Support revenue streams are a great cash cow for most computer companies. And if they can get the users to pay for their internal support team while offering “minimal” support to contracted end users, that's great for their IT department."

That's a great question, but HP has never shared information about its internal IT makeup. As close as we ever came to seeing a representation was during the CIO's presentation at the HP Technology Forum three years ago. HP was using its IT as an example of a best practice -- a lesson often useless for the small and midsize companies who don't have 100 servers or a massive IT budget. But HP 3000s appeared on a slide briefly, just as an icon. CIO Randy Mott flashed another slide that showed no 3000s in the consolidated HP datacenters.

But if our experience with customers is any indicator, then 3000s have moved out of HP slower than the CIOs expect. One manager at an IT datacenter gave us updates for years after HP was hawking migration, confirmations that 3000s were still in use. Very unofficial reports, these were, and purely anecdotal. That doesn't make Smith's HP support strategy any less viable, however.

HP does like to talk about what it does with IT to show customers how to manage their enterprises, however, especially when it can promote a fresh feature or a product which can use the recommendation. Earlier today an HP manager blogged about power management in the HP blade server line, with suggestions on how to start. The message includes good news for any customer who's chosen HP's Integrity blades as a migration target, rather than the ProLiants.

Jacob Van Ewyk, who works in HP's Business Critical Systems group as part of the sales enablement team, explained that he got to "spend some time with a customer yesterday talking about how HP runs its internal IT operations, industry best practices, trends and more." Van Ewyk, posting on HP's enterprise computing blog, skipped over the HP internals in his message -- because that's pretty off-limits in public communication. But in "Quick and Easy Power Savings for Servers," he did note how power management can be introduced as a benefit to using HP's alternative platforms to the 3000.

One of the interesting comments from the customer was that they were running all their servers at high performance or maximum power levels all the time, even though he knew that average utilization was 40 percent or less, even with virtualization. He also said that he was worried about the risk of reducing processor power and potentially impacting server performance.

One of his requests was a practical way to start implementing power management in a non-intrusive, quick and easy way. He hadn’t seen anything that provided that level of detail. Since he primarily had HP BladeSystem for his compute infrastructure, we figured that it made sense to implement HP Power Regulator dynamic power mode on his blades via the iLO 3 cards.

Essentially, this mode automatically varies the processor frequency based on actual utilization -- if utilization is low, it slows down the processor frequency; if it is high, it increases the processor frequency -- all automatically and without intervention. Details about how to set this mode are in the iLO 3 Users Guide on page 88. You basically set the new power setting mode (which may require a reboot) and it automatically manages it, reducing your power consumption.

You would likely start implementing this on your test and development systems. These systems are not mission critical, and even if they are virtualized, often have long stretches of idle time. Reducing the processor frequency, something that many of experience regularly, but rarely notice on our laptops, can make a significant difference in the actual power consumption, resulting in savings. If it works well in your environment, you can start implementing it in your production environment as well.

Of course, that customer had HP BladeSystem with x86 blades. If you are running HP Integrity servers with HP-UX 11i v3, you would use the Green Active Processors feature and the pstatectl command -- and HP Integrity servers with HP-UX 11i v3 don’t require a reboot.

Naturally, with HP Insight Control power management software and HP Data Center Smart Grid, you can do more advanced power management. However, these commands will quickly and easily get you on the road to power savings.