HP drives efficiency and automation with ProLiant Generation 8

ProLiant Gen8 Servers

LAS VEGAS – HP is introducing a major update of its ProLiant server line that the vendor is hoping will be a game-changing technology.

ProLiant Generation 8, announced in conjunction with HP Global Partner Conference, is being billed as HP’s most self-sufficient servers, with additional automated functionality beyond what was previously available from HP and, according to the company, beyond what is currently available from its competitors. As part of the Project Voyager initiative, which is an HP initiative to change data center operations by eliminating manual tasks and driving additional efficiencies into the product line, Generation 8 was designed to reduce the average $45 million spent annually on manual operations (in a typical 10,000-square-foot data center) by up to 50 per cent.

“The skyrocketing cost of operations in the data center is unsustainable, and enterprises are looking to HP to help solve this problem,” said Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager for enterprise servers, storage, networking and technology services at HP. “Today, we are responding with innovative intelligence technologies that empower servers that virtually take care of themselves, allowing administrators to devote more time to business innovation.”

According to HP, the latest version of ProLiant (which will be available in March) reduces administrator time by as much as 69 per cent with integrated lifecycle automation, improves data-intensive storage performance by 100 times, eliminates power configuration errors and manual record keeping with 3D sensors easy identification and location of servers (and also building some intelligence into the rack), and improving uptime through the automation of support processes with HP Insight Remote Support and HP services. HP channel partners will also be supported through the HP ServiceOne program for additional problem resolution and prevention.

“This is likely one of HP’s most aggressive technology efforts with servers in some time,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst of Enderle Group. “They are making a major push to lead with energy efficiency, green technology, and supply chain management (reducing common errors to reduce cost and price more aggressively).”

The intended result is to lead the market is price, performance, energy efficiency and ease of management, as well as driving automated asset tracking through intelligent racks, Enderle said.

“In performance, they are releasing new smart analytics redesigned for solid state drives (this last is both new and unusual) and they are reporting a 95 per cent performance increase as a result of this move. Even the server units themselves have been heavily updated with a reported 150 innovations for tool-free servicing, easy case access, and run time diagnostics. It’s an impressive technical achievement.”

“We think it’s not just a step level upgrade; it’s a whole new evolution of technology, which is a great discussion to have with our customers,” said Christina Corley, senior vice president of corporate sales for CDW, an HP channel partner, during a panel discussion. Although she noted there is a lot of innovation (HP has filed approximately 900 patents related to ProLiant Generation 8), it also changes the conversation channel partners are having with their customers.

According to Richard Fichera, vice president and senior research analyst at Forrester, the general management of servers consumes a lot of time, and despite talk in the industry about automation, most administrators have little in the way of automated management tools. With lower budgets and a need for greater business value, IT professionals are dealing with the headaches of both planned and unplanned downtime, which has been a challenge for at least a decade, he said. That’s where HP is hoping to make an impact with the launch of Generation 8.

“This whole Gen 8 announcement answers pains I’ve been hearing about from customers for a decade,” Fichera said.

HP’s goal for ProLiant, which contains new ProActive Insight architecture with approximately 150 customer-inspired innovations, is to transform the server market, said Mark Potter, senior vice president and general manager of infrastructure software and blades at HP.