HP Formally Unveils Foxconn Hyperscale Cloudline Servers

Hewlett-Packard Tuesday formally launched its hyperscale Cloudline server family, the result of the company's highly touted partnership with the world's largest contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group.

The new Cloudline servers, which will be available March 30, are aimed at leapfrogging the traditional hyperscale server designs that are powering the businesses of Internet giants like Amazon and Facebook.

HP teamed with Foxconn last April to develop the new Cloudline servers in a bid to break the existing hyperscale price-performance barriers. The low cost x86 hyperscale servers represent the fastest growing segment of the server market. In 2014, ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) servers, which dominate the hyperscale market, grew 40.5 percent to $4 billion, according to market researcher IDC.

[Related: Q4 Server Sales Rise As Massive Market Leader Shift Takes Place]

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"Cloudline is finally here, and we are very pleased with what we are seeing in dollars-per-throughput on it," said Rainer Gawlick, executive vice president of global sales for IntraLinks, Waltham, Mass., which is moving its secure enterprise collaboration Software-as-a-Service platform to an HP Cloudline architecture. "The technical architecture HP has put together and the resulting performance/availability price points are very good. If you had asked me a year-and-a-half ago if HP would be one of the key contenders here, we would not have thought so. But they have made a bunch of really significant investments here that are starting to pay off. They are going to make a big splash in this market."

The Cloudline server launch comes just two weeks after HP unveiled a new line of HP-branded open-source Altoline network switches in order to provide customers with more compelling networking economics. Service providers say Cloudline and Altoline combined with HP's Helion cloud platform represents a new high water mark for HP's service provider business.

Gawlick, for his part, said his company has done the price-performance analysis on the various architectures and is excited to be moving over the next year from an Oracle compute platform, Cisco networking and NetApp storage to HP Cloudline/Altoline.

"We were looking for something that was really high performance, high availability and the ability to quickly spin up new instances anywhere in the world," he said. "What we really liked about HP was they have got the whole enchilada: the compute, storage, networking and OpenStack architecture. It is very well architected."

As far as evaluating Amazon Web Services as a platform, Gawlick said his company would simply never consider putting its secure collaboration platform on a public cloud. "The kind of data we hold for companies are the crown jewels," he said. "Most of the companies we deal with would never put it on Amazon."

IntraLinks reviewed the HP hyperscale architecture decision with some of its Fortune 10 customers who gave a thumbs up on the platform. But it was more than the technical architecture that led IntraLinks to move to the HP private cloud platform, said Gawlick. He said the business relationship with HP is much more strategic than IntraLinks could have had with HP competitors. HP is even compensating HP direct reps to sell the IntraLinks offering.

"HP is a little later to the party, and they are hungrier," said Gawlick. "We are getting the right attention from them at the right level. They are taking input from us. We like that aspect of the business relationship. You don't know what bumps are going to come along the way. You want somebody you can trust to sort out those bumps when they do come. The relationship is a big factor."

Mimecast, an email archiving service that runs on HP infrastructure, also considers the business relationship key to the HP partnership. Watertown, Mass.-based Mimecast, in fact, has seen its HP sales pipeline grow from zero to $10 million since joining HP's PartnerOne ServiceProvider program two years ago, said Bob Fidler, vice president of business development for Mimecast. "That is pretty significant to a company like Mimecast," he said. "What is even more important is HP is helping us get into more enterprise customers with 10,000 and 50,000 users. Enterprise customers are now starting to look at Mimecast. It's a beautiful relationship: we get to sell into the enterprise, and HP gets to sell more hardware."

Fidler said the "emphasis HP is putting on the service provider to go against the top tiers like the Amazons and Googles" is spot on.

Paul Kaeley, vice president of worldwide service providers and general manager of Americas Sales for HP, said HP's enterprise service provider business is growing at a robust double digit pace. That growth came in large part from "HP service provider-ready solutions" from HP channel partners and HP's own direct sales force.

The new Cloudline offering, however, is initially just for HP's direct sales force. In fact, HP said the new Cloudline servers are available only at "rack-scale with the exact quantity dependent on the customer."

That could change over time as HP works with partners to explore how they can support the solution, said Kaeley. He said HP is going to talk to key systems integrators and partners to see "what potential options there are."

As far as whether the price-performance from the Cloudline offering will change the service provider landscape, Kaeley said it is more than the infrastructure economics associated with Cloudline that is changing the game for service providers teaming with HP.

"When you take that sort of industry-leading cost and efficiency and couple it with our service provider strategy, which introduces flexible business models and helping customers create financing options, making it easier for them to ease into the infrastructure purchase and then couple it with a winning partnership, that is what differentiates HP in the service provider marketplace."

To that end, HP Tuesday also launched the HP ServiceProvider Growth Suite aimed at providing asset management solutions to help service providers create "investment capacity" in existing environments. HP also offers a Flexible Capacity pay as you grow model for service providers.

A number of customers are already testing and evaluating Cloudline, said Kaeley. "We are having a number of significant conversations with a wide range of customer sets from large enterprises to service providers that are looking at the product," he said. "We have definitely seen a high level of interest."