Hewlett-Packard is moving against Sun in the high-end x86 server space with the introduction of its first eight-socket quad-core processor server.
HP, of Palo Alto, Calif. this week unveiled the HP ProLiant DL785 G5 as part of a wider initiative to help customers transform their standalone data centers into virtual infrastructures.
"Our customers have been asking us to deliver a product that has an easy-to-implement availability," said Nick Van Der Zweep, director of virtualization and ESS software at HP. "We thought about how can you lay out an Infrastructure, how do you consolidate data centers? The larger picture for transformation revolves around new services to design data center virtualization, energy efficiency, automation, consolidation and business continuity. "
HP is the second vendor after Sun Microsystems, of Santa Clara, Calif., to offer servers with up to eight quad-core AMD Opteron processors. Sun's offering in this class is the Sun Fire x4600 server.
It is a move that did not go unnoticed by Dhruv Gulati, executive vice president of Lilien Systems, a Larkspur, Calif.-based solution provider.
"Sun has had that market for themselves for a while," Gulati said. "Now HP's trying to get in. It's not a big market, but it's growing. We've been trying to address that market in the past using HP's Integrity servers."
HP's Integrity server line is based on the Itanium processor line from Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif.
The DL785 can be configured with either four or eight quad-core AMD Opteron processing, give it up to 32 processor cores, said Hannah Lewis, product manager for the HP ProLiant DL785 server. It can be configured for up to 256 Gbytes of memory using existing 4-Gbyte DIMM technology, with that maximum doubling this Fall when 8-Gbyte DIMMs become available, Lewis said. The server also has up to 11 PCIe slots.
Gulati said the DL785 is a good server for consolidating server environments using server virtualization software, and for certain applications that cannot be scaled out or take advantage of grid computing but that need a lot of memory, such as SQL Server.
"VMware would be a good candidate for the server," he said. "Whether it makes sense to use a big box like this for server virtualization, or two to three smaller boxes, depends on the price points."
This is not HP's first entry into the 8-processor server market. The company had such a server a few years ago, but killed that product to focus on multi-core processor-based servers, Lewis said. "But now multi-core processing is very pervasive, and customers have the capability to use servers with so many cores," she said.
The ProLiant DL785 G5 lists starting just under $17,000 with four, 2.2GHz Opteron quad-core processors and 8 Gbytes of memory, Lewis said.
In addition to the new server, HP this week also introduced a number of new services.
They include HP Critical Facilities services focused on consulting, design, and assurance to help customers create scalable facilities with energy-efficient power and cooling technologies; HP Data Center Consolidation services to help customers reduce the number of facilities; and HP Data Center Virtualization services to cover the virtualization of servers, storage, networks, and applications.
Also new this week is the HP Adaptive Infrastructure as a Service, which lets customers access HP's own managed data centers for their critical business applications.
Michele Masterson contributed to this article.