HP Makes Converged Infrastructure Market Grab With OneView Platform

Hewlett-Packard Wednesday fired the first shot in its bid to break open the converged infrastructure market with what it is calling a rethinking of how the data center is managed in the 21st century.

HP's new OneView product, designed for the HP BladeSystem and HP ProLiant Generation 7 and 8 servers, brings converged infrastructure management into the IT consumerization and social media era, the Palo Alto, Calif., company said. The consumer-inspired management platform -- billed by HP as an "industry first" -- is aimed at fostering collaboration within IT departments across the data center.

"The world has changed," said HP Senior Vice President and General Manager, Converged Systems Tom Joyce in an interview with CRN. "Customers expect everything to work like their cellphone or tablet does. They don't want to have to sit there and read a manual or take a course to figure out how to run IT anymore. This is about running IT the way your consumer technologies work. Let's make it as easy as that."

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OneView includes a raft of features including Smart Search, aimed at allowing data center administrators to find key information in seconds; MapView, aimed at allowing IT administrators to diagnose IT problems in a world of increasing device connections; Templates, designed to capture best IT practices; and Dashboard, a complete data center view from a single pane of glass.

Kelly Ireland, founder and CEO of CB Technologies, a Westminster, Calif., HP enterprise partner, sees OneView as part of HP CEO Meg Whitman's drive to bring innovative and unique IT offerings to market based on the "new style of IT."

"This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of HP innovating, getting back to its legacy as a provider of unique intellectual property," said Ireland. "Meg is getting HP back to being an R&D leader with innovative technology."

Ireland predicted that OneView will be eagerly embraced by customers looking to simplify IT operations. "You can virtualize all you want , but if you don't make it easier to manage it doesn't matter," she said. "What we have seen from our clients is that converged infrastructure simplification is at the top of their list. That's the problem that OneView is designed to solve."

In addition to a simplified consumer-style IT interface, OneView, which will be available in October from HP solution providers with a price tag of $799 for a single license, represents a marked improvement in automating IT management tasks. HP said tasks that used to take hours can now be done in minutes. The time it takes to provision hypervisors across 16 servers, for example, has been reduced from 2 hours and 50 minutes to just 14 minutes, according to HP.

What's more, HP said, tasks that used to take hundreds of clicks by an IT administrator can now be completed in a few clicks. For example, HP said retiring a virtual local area network (vLAN), which used to take 480 steps and more than two hours with an older management tool, can now be done in 30 seconds with only four steps.

NEXT: OneView: An Expandable, Programmable Platform For Partners

HP's Joyce said OneView, which is expandable and programmable by HP solution providers, opens the door for partners to have a "whole new conversation with customers" who are being challenged by the consumerization of IT. "We studied hundreds and hundreds of different approaches to doing IT management and decided the best way to do it was to make it run like your consumer technologies run," he said. "We haven't seen that before."

An HP development team located in the same facility as HP Labs had been working on the OneView technology over a four-year period in a bid to dramatically improve cost inefficiencies around infrastructure management. HP's converged infrastructure team, essentially in startup mode since it was formed nearly five months ago, picked up the offering as its first game-changer, said Joyce.

"We think as a management team from Meg on down that we have unique innovation here worthy of investment," said Joyce. "You will see us going loud and proud with this product. This is a big announcement for us, and there will be more coming from this area in the future."

Joyce said OneView which will be updated regularly with new capabilities and functionality. He said the product will be extremely valuable for partners and customers as a "strategy for the future" as HP expands the platform to move beyond core data center elements into managing a wide range of devices.

"For a channel partner this is a great way to get into the center of how customers operate their data center and then, over time, add more, program more capabilities in, bring in additional things that we add," he said. "We are going to be adding a lot more functionality and features. A lot of partners are figuring how to become more important to their customers. They don't want to just push boxes at them. They want to put a strategy in front of customers that gives them a reason to come back. The No. 1 thing customers are trying to figure out as they go toward hybrid cloud and new applications like big data and SAP Hana is how they get one management control pane that allows them to do it all over time so they don't end up with a much more complicated environment. That is what OneView is designed to solve."

A big differentiator for OneView is its modern, state-of-the-art REST (Representational State Web Transfer) Web application programming interface. That RESTful architecture is well beyond the outdated design of management platforms from HP competitors, said Joyce. A lot of companies have point management products, but nothing like OneView, he said.

"We have the newest architecture by far built on Web services technology and RESTful interface, built with consumer-inspired levels of ease of use," said Joyce. "Not one of the other companies can touch what we have with HP OneView."

What's more, Joyce said, OneView is just the beginning of a stepped-up innovation offensive from the Converged Infrastructure group, said Joyce. He said the unit is working on channel-exclusive products similar to the 3Par StoreServe 7000 midrange storage system, the fastest-growing product in the Enterprise Group portfolio.

"Our goal is to build fully configured offerings specifically for the channel to go sell," said Joyce. "Every quarter we are going to have new things to put in the hands of our channel partners to go be effective. We are maniacally focused on the channel in my group. It is our route to market. We've got a lot more coming. This is just the beginning."