HP 'Project Voyager' Automates Management Of New ProLiant Gen8 Servers

HP on Monday unveiled a new architecture for automating lifecycle, workload, and energy management of its new ProLiant Gen8 servers.

While some of the details of the new ProLiant Gen8 servers, including new blade, rack, tower, and small form factor models, were previously leaked by HP on its Web site, the biggest part of Monday's news is not the servers themselves but the architecture around them, said Jeff Carlat, director of software marketing for HP's industry standard servers and software business.

"This is not about launching new servers at all," Carlat said. "It's all about IT. This is a time for change in the data center. Data growth is about 45 percent a year. There's a tsunami of changes as customers and partners try to keep up. For every $1 spent on servers, customers spend $6 on supporting servers, according to Gartner."

To that end, HP on Monday used its HP Global Partner Conference, held this week in Las Vegas, to unveil "Project Voyager," a new server architecture for automating server management.

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Project Voyager includes three primary pieces, Carlat said.

The first is the new HP ProActive Insight architecture for managing server lifecycles including simplified provisioning, monitoring, and updating technologies.

ProActive Insight includes four primary functions.

The first is integrated lifecycle automation, which brings more of the intelligence used for managing servers into the servers themselves, Carlat said.

It includes HP's SmartStart technology which eliminates the traditional installation CD by putting all the needed installation technology on an embedded NAND Flash memory to speed up the server provisioning and configuration process by a factor of up to three times, he said.

It also includes Active Health, which collects troubleshooting information from over 1,600 system parameters and logging all configuration changes. "It can be used by IT administrators to manage and troubleshoot the servers," Carlat said. "And we can sent that information to HP support and HP partners to help them keep the servers up and running."

Also included is the HP Smart Update Manager, which allows users to set automatic updates of one server or all servers at once.

The second part of the ProActive Insight architecture is dynamic workload acceleration via optimization of solid state disk (SSD), data protection, and dynamic performance changes.

"This is all about the apps and storage running on the servers and how to optimize them for performance," Carlat said. "We've optimized them to get up to six times the performance of our current servers."

HP is doing this with technology that uses SSDs to increase server performance by up to 500 percent over previous generations. The company is also adding embedded data protection technologies such as new high-performance data mirroring across three drives to ensure continued availability of data while increasing the read performance.

HP's new ProLiant Gen8 servers also now support up to 50 percent more internal drives than previous models, while a new built-in HP Smart Array controller supports up to 227 internal and external drives, or twice as many drives compared to previous generations, he said.

The third part of the ProActive Insight architecture is automated energy optimization, which Carlat said brings energy optimization to the rack level.

"HP currently has sensors in our servers to measure temperature," he said. "Now we're adding them to our server racks. This provides thermal information to administrators to allow automated turning up and down of fans."

Next: Proactive Services And More For Next-Gen Servers

As a result, fan cooling settings are based on overall rack heat, and not just the heat of individual servers, which ensures that available power is allocated across the rack to maintain mission-critical system operations, he said.

HP is also adding proactive services and support so that information related to problems with the new servers is transmitted immediately to HP so the vendor can quickly diagnose and address them, Carlat said. That diagnostic information, along with information on current open cases and full warranty and contract tracking, will make it much easier for solution providers to reach out proactively to solve server problems, he said.

These new proactive services are tied into HP's ServiceONE partner program that allows certified partners to sell HP services to customers, deliver HP services, or brand HP services as their own, he said.

Dan Molina, CTO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and long-term HP partner, said the new servers with their built-in intelligence gives customers increased scalability and flexibility.

"The bottom line is, HP is providing a lot more intelligence and diagnostics," Molina said. "So now customers can do a lot more automated management, and take advantage of a wider range of different interconnects in their server environments. For VARs, we can provide a higher quality of service to customers."