The fruit of a $300 million, two-year program called Project Voyager, Hewlett-Packard just rolled out its ProLiant Generation 8 servers. HP hopes to redefine data center economics with an automation strategy that boasts more than 900 filed patents and new systems architecture known as ProActive Insight -- and ProLiant Generation 8 offers a glimpse of the possibilities.
HP is offering some metrics around those possibilities. In a typical 10,000-square-foot data center, HP estimates companies spend an average of $24 million in a three-year period on manual operations to support servers. HP ProLiant Gen8 claims to triple administrator productivity by eliminating most manual operations.
HP also claims ProLiant Gen8 can increase compute capacity per watt of energy by a whopping 70 percent and resolve unplanned downtime issues up to 66 percent faster through self-monitoring, self-diagnosing and proactive support. HP was not immediately available for comment.
Answering a Common Quandary
Project Voyager is the third phase of HP's multiyear transformation plan for the server market, which launched in November 2011 with Project Moonshot. Project Moonshot aimed to change how servers are built for extreme-low-energy computing. Phase Two, Project Odyssey, redefined the future of mission-critical computing. Project Voyager works to automate every aspect of the server life cycle.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said ProLiant Gen8 offers interesting answers to a common quandary in the x86 server market, namely how vendors leveraging the same basic CPUs and associated technologies can effectively differentiate their solutions and go-to-market strategies. The same issue, he noted, applies to PCs and notebooks.
"The fact is that system and data center efficiency, both critical points in operational expenditures and facilities management, have long been challenges in scale-out x86 server environments, significantly impacting IT budgets and related business initiatives," King said. "That's the main sales point of HP's Project Voyager, as well as its related Project Moonshot and Project Odyssey initiatives."
Getting Ahead of Sandy Bridge
At the same time, King continued, it would be a mistake to think HP's efforts are altogether unique. IBM announced its own autonomic computing initiative -- which successfully migrated highly automated processes from the company's mainframe systems across the rest of its server portfolio -- in 1999.
King also pointed to notable energy and automated management efficiencies as longtime features in Dell's hyperscale system and other server solutions. In other words, he said, while HP's efforts are laudable and likely to be welcomed by company customers, they simply reflect broader, long-term industry trends.
"Overall, HP's ProLiant Gen8 offerings look to be a good fit for the company's go-to-market strategy and competitive positioning. Plus, by pre-announcing the new systems weeks before Intel's new Sandy Bridge-EP Xeon E5 processors actually become available, HP is both spotlighting the progress of its Project Voyager initiative and getting the word out before the inevitable crush of announcements from other x86 server vendors," King said. "In so highly competitive a market, these are not small things."