HP Partners: Excited About Moonshot Servers, Not So Much MicroServer Gen8 Servers

HP Project Moonshot Server

Hewlett-Packard this week introduced new servers for the SMB market including an entry-level model a top HP executive called the perfect gift for graduates looking to start their careers as entrepreneurs.

HP also updated attendees of this week's HP Discover conference in Las Vegas on its latest Unix and big data servers, as well as provided a closer look at HP's upcoming Moonshot modular server line.

David Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager of HP's Enterprise Group, introduced the new servers, which included a new version of HP's MicroServer line based on the company's ProLiant Generation 8 (Gen8) platform.

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Donatelli touted the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 as a complete data center for small businesses complete with compute, storage and networking capabilities.

"We also think that, since this is graduation season, you can buy it for your graduates," he said. "Please do so."

Donatelli also called the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 "awesome" for younger people, especially with a starting price of about $450.

"Think of it as 'baby's first data center,'" he said. "So for the parents out there, they can buy baby's first data center and hope [their kids] go out and become an entrepreneur, make a billion dollars, and pay you back for all that college education money you just spent."

While HP might find a good market for the home and college set for the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8, it will be less welcome in the small business market toward which it is targeted, HP channel partners said.

It could be a tough SMB sale, said Fred Moore, managing partner at Moore Computing, a St. Louis-based HP SMB partner who's typical customer has about 40 users on a network.

"We've seen the older MicroServers," Moore said. "If you have a disk failover, it can be costly. The older MicroServers used SATA drives, which are not that good for small businesses. And the performance was not that good."

Performance for the Gen8 version for small businesses could be an issue. The MicroServer features a dual-core Celeron processor with 2 MB of cache and from 2 GB to 16 GB of memory.

NEXT: Judging The Market For The MicroServer Gen8

However, Moore Computing's Moore said, it does include such ProLiant Gen8 features as Intelligent Provisioning for quick and simple installation and setup, instant out-of-box server set up and deployment, remote management technology, and proactive health monitoring.

Even so, he said, there are better choices for SMB customers.

"Even in a one-man shop, I'd rather put in a second-hand, 4-year-old ML350 with an HP Care Pack extended warranty," he said.

Marc Lemke, CTO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, a Green Bay, Wis.-based solution provider and HP partner, said he spent some time with the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8, and said it might be sufficient for SOHO users.

However, Lemke said, it supports RAID 1 and RAID 0 out of the box, can support RAID 5 with an add-on card, and does not support RAID 10. Furthermore, he said, the 8-port switch is an option.

"You add in the RAID card and switch, and I'm not sure if there's much of a price difference with HP's ML servers," he said.

Even so, Lemke said the fact that it includes the ProLiant Gen8 features is a plus. "With ProLiant's iLO 4 management feature, you can manage both the server and the switch," he said. "For a small business without an IT person, to be able to remote in and manage both with one interface is very attractive."

Also introduced at HP Discover was the HP ProLiant ML310e Gen8 v2, a single-processor tower server with full ProLiant Gen8 capabilities. They are based on either the Intel Core i3-3220, Xeon E3-1220vw or Xeon E3-1240v2 processors and include up to 12 TB of internal storage, 16 GB of memory and four PCIe slots.

Moore said he will look at the ML310e Gen8 servers. "But in the past, we settled on the ML350 as our minimum platform for tower servers," he said. "The price difference between it and the older ML310 servers was so insignificant that we just went with the ML350."

HP's Donatelli also introduced the HP ProLiant DL320e Gen8 v2 servers, a line of single-processor, rack-optimized servers he said are suitable for small business users or embedding into other equipment.

NEXT: Laying The Groundwork For HP Moonshot Servers

HP's Donatelli also used his HP Discover keynote to promote the upcoming HP Moonshot modular server line as an alternative to traditional servers, including other HP servers, for use in Internet data centers and other areas where high performance, low-power consumption and flexible configurations are important considerations.

The server industry is expected to sell about 10 million new servers in the next three years, requiring the building of 10 new power plants just to provide the energy those servers will need, he said.

"So what you have to do is re-invent what a server is and can do for all you want to do," he said.

HP has done so with the Moonshot with its modular capability based on cartridges that can be configured with different processors and even pre-configured with specific applications.

HP's initial Moonshot server, which is currently available, features the Intel Atom processor, which allows up to 450 servers per rack, Donatelli said.

Future plans include the release of modules based on x86 processors with GPUs, Texas Instruments processors with digital signal processors (DSPs) and 64-bit ARM processors. Some of those modules will be pre-configured with big data, high-performance computing, gaming, financial services, genomics, facial recognition and video analysis applications.

"The idea here is, these servers will get increasingly powerful. ... It's all about matching the server to your application to get the right combination of performance, power and cost," Donatelli said.

Camera Corner's Lemke said Moonshot looks very interesting, but he is not sure it will fit his customer base yet because for now it appears targeted mainly at large Web farms running the Linux operating system.

"In our area, enterprises have application servers, VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] servers, but not a lot of Linux-based Web farms," he said. "But it will be interesting to see what happens as HP comes out with new modules."

Chris Case, president of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and HP partner, said he expects Moonshot to be a real player in the telco and cloud provider market.

"It will be interesting to see how HP works with partners on this," he said. "This is a game-changer for HP."