HP announces its ProLiant Gen9 servers

Feeds and speeds of individual servers await later rollouts, but HP is promising three times the compute power of Gen8 servers, and a focus server strategy for the modern data centre.

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The HP ProLiant ML 350 Gen9 rack server.

HP has unveiled its new portfolio of HP ProLiant Generation 9 (Gen9) servers, which the company is terming as a major delivery milestone in their compute strategy.

The announcements were somewhat short on detail on the specific servers – which will be fleshed out when Intel officially announces its Xeon E5-2600 v3 family of processors at the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco from September 9-11. But HP did lay out its strategy, and its own technologies which underlay it.

“With ProLiant 9 we are announcing our vision for the future of datacentre technology to accelerate IT service delivery, lower cost and fuel business growth,” said McLeod Glass Director, Product Marketing, Industry Standard Servers and Software at HP.

“HP created the x86 server market 25 years ago and set the direction,” Glass said. “Today IT infrastructure is often slow and manually driven. We believe the server is the heart of the data centre, and to enable it to keep pace with industry demands of the last ten years, a new approach to servers is needed.”

The HP ProLiant Gen9 Servers are designed to provide that approach, creating a vast pool of processing resources that can be located anywhere, scaled to any workload and available at all times. Providing such a virtual pool of compute power is fundamental to the software-defined data centre, and is at the heart of HP’s compute strategy.

“With this, the HP compute strategy shifts completely from the discrete siloes of the past, and can scale to any type of workload,” Glass said. “The server is more important than it has ever been in the software defined data center, and to make that come together, our server platforms depart from the old server mold to focus on highly targeted special workloads, which will be optimized for those workloads. Apollo and Moonshot in particular are targeting particular workloads, allowing them to deliver higher level SLAs that businesses are demanding from IT.”

Twenty-one new HP servers in four architectures — blade, rack, tower and scale-out — are scheduled to be formally introduced between IDF in September and June 2015. The first of these are new Gen9 versions of the ML 350, the BL 460c blade server, the DL 360 and DL 380, the Apollo 6000 XL230a and the Apollo 8000 XL730f.

“We are also adding two new servers to the Apollo family,” Glass said. “The DL160 and DL180 are positioned to replace the DL 360e and DL 380e. They are a little bit different, and targeted more at lower-cost competition.”

While the feeds and speeds on individual servers will need to wait for their formal launch, in general Glass said that the new Gen9s will have triple the compute power of their Gen8 antecedents.

“As customers look to refresh, we can deliver 3x of compute per watt over our 3-5 year old systems,” he said.

The new servers’ modular architecture will improve configuration flexibility, and Gen9’s enhanced restful APIs and HP’s OneView infrastructure management application will improve efficiency.

“A lot of customers have used our scripted toolkit in the past, but now they will have the option of using the restful API to do that scripting,” Glass said. “That’s new in Gen9.”

OneView was previously only available on HP blades, but is now on rack servers as well, and Glass said it has been significantly upgraded.

“One View will do management 66 times faster than previously,” he said.

Some of the enhancements are not HP-specific, but reflect improved standards and components. For example the Smart Array Controllers, Host Bus Adapters and SAS HDD have all been upgraded from 6 GB/s to 12 GB/s. Memory has also been updated from DDR3 to DDR4, although HP of course does have its own HP DDR4 Smart Memory.

Glass said the new servers are also easier for channel partners to work with.

“Partners will find the overall design with way systems are built to be very channel friendly,” he said. “For example, the latest DL 380 can go from a 2 drive to a 26 drive configuration in a single box. That makes it easily configurable by the partner and lets them cover a wider spectrum of workloads.”

Glass also suggested that the sexiness of Gen9 will make life easier for partner sales.

“They will find customers will be excited about these, and it will stimulate good conversations for the partners, so they can address more of the things their customers are looking for.”