Analysis

HP launches cloud and SDDC-ready ProLiant servers

Archana Venkatraman

HP has released the Gen9 version of its ProLiant servers, as part of its strategy to “re-imagine servers in the new compute era”. 

The x86 servers are the first line of servers to be based on DDR4 memory and on Intel’s next-generation Xeon chips – code-named Haswell – which launch in September.

HP_sign_290x230.jpg

While launching the products, HP chief executive Meg Whitman said servers are at the heart of a datacentre, as the world moves to wards software-defined datacentres (SDDC). 

"Unfortunately, in the past 10 years servers have not kept pace with demand. They have slow market responsiveness and come at high costs,” she said.

"This next phase significantly changes the radicals of the datacentre and represents the new era of compute that is defined by big data, mobility and cloud computing."

HP's Gen9 ProLiant servers feature higher compute capacity and offer better performance and efficiency to meet the modern workload needs of the enterprise datacentre.

Most of HP's server competitors – including IBM – have a “linear server approach”, said Whitman. "This linear strategy, which involves updating a few features in the server rather than redesigning it with new chips, inhibits competition from delivering datacentre innovation at the right pace and at the right economics," she added.

Big data and cloud computing trends are creating enormous pressure on servers and the need for server innovation is now critical, according to Bill Veghte, executive vice-president and general manager of HP's enterprise group.

“Making a wrong server investment can lead to a two-second latency on your datacentre, resulting in millions of dollars of losses for a business," he warned.

Organisations are under pressure to deliver more applications and services, as well as reduce costs and manage big data. However, these requirements mean IT teams are constrained by traditional datacentre and server architectures, HP said.

The ProLiant Gen9 servers, which will hit the market on 8 September, aim to address these challenges. The server family is optimised for cloud and software-defined environments, and has new technology features, including DDR4 memory, which increases compute capacity; PCIe accelerators; and converged management features for servers, storage and networking.

“The rise of mobile, cloud, social and big data is driving the need for a new approach to the datacentre and its processing engine – the server – to enable successful business outcomes,” said Antonio Neri, senior vice-president and general manager for servers and networking at HP.

According to Neri, most enterprises are unable to gain business insight from their data because of traditional datacentre limitations.

"Nine out of 10 CIOs identify IT as important for business transformation, but only 30% can achieve transformation. This is largely because of traditional IT, which is not business-optimised to process data in real time," he said.

Other HP datacentre technologies include Moonshot, the low-power microservers; Apollo, the family of products designed specifically for high-performance computing' and OneView, which is cloud-centric.

Gen9 ProLiant is HP’s re-imagined x86 server line

Gen9 ProLiant servers span four architectures – blade, rack, tower and scale-out.

Angela Cross, UK country manager for HP servers, said about 250 enterprise customers in Europe are beta testing the new ProLiant servers. 

"In the UK alone, large enterprise customers from the public sector, financial services, media, manufacturing, oil and gas and pharmaceutical industries have been testing the servers for the past two months," she added.

Gen8 packed high volumes of features, but HP wasn’t able to scale the features down to offer customers the servers for low-end workloads. Rhys Austin, infrastructure software manager for Europe at HP servers, said Gen9 represents a more federated approach to designing servers.

“The competition started eating us from below, so with Gen9 we developed a top-down approach,” he said.

The new products do not come loaded with standard features, but are available to customers to deploy in their datacentres and add stack features that suit their needs, Austin explained. This makes Gen9 useful for small and medium-sized enterprises too.

DDR4-based server family

HP designed the Gen9 ProLiant servers on upcoming Intel processors and DDR4 to coincide with industry innovations and migration towards newer standards, said Iain Stephen, vice-president for HP servers in Europe. 

This new generation is proof of the industry’s journey to the new compute era

Iain Stephen

“Enterprises cannot go through multiple transitions, so we launch products to coincide with technological transitions," he said.

DDR4 is the next evolution in dynamic random-access memory DRAM, delivering even higher performance and more control features, while improving energy efficiency. Intel’s upcoming Xeon chips will be the first processors to be based on DDR4, as it is assumed the industry will make the transition from DDR3 as power efficiency becomes critical for businesses. Experts expect DDR4 will become mainstream by 2017.

“This new generation is proof of the industry’s journey to the new compute era, with support for the future Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 v3 family, code-named Haswell," said Stephen.

One user of HP's compute era servers – Redstone Consulting Group, LLC, a subsidiary of Redstone Federal Credit Union - has reduced its mobile application development and deployment lifecycle by 30% to 90 days, as well as grow revenue by 50% year over year as a result, according to Harry Gunsallus, CIO of Redstone Federal Credit Union. 

HP created an x86 server strategy 25 years ago. Among the server suppliers – including Dell, Fujitsu and IBM – HP leads the pack with 7.3% year-on-year growth to achieve a 34.7% server revenue share for the second quarter of 2014 in Europe.

This represents a strong result given HP's shipment decline of 5.2%, said Errol Rasit, research director at Gartner. Although the European market does not enjoy the same hyperscale demand as North America, HP was able to benefit from strong multi-node server sales to boost its growth, the analyst added.

In the second quarter of 2014, x86 server revenue increased by 12.7% in Europe, while Risc/Itanium Unix revenue declined 23.6% and other CPU revenue fell by 17.8%, Gartner reported.

Additional details on the HP ProLiant Gen9 servers, including its features, product variants and pricing will be announced at the Intel Developers Forum on 9 September.


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