HP's Virtual Focus: Desktop PCs, Starter SANs


On the desktop side, the company unveiled a joint virtual solution that includes its own PC blades and desktop PC virtualization software from Citrix.

And on the storage side, HP introduced an entry-level virtualized SAN solution based on its LeftHand technology.

HP introduced its new HP BladeSystem bc2800 and BladeSystem bc2200 blade PCs, and is bundling them with the Citrix XenDesktop PC virtualization software.

The bc2800 is aimed at performance applications, and includes an AMD Turion X2 TL-66 dual-core processor, along with 767MHz memory speed and integrated ATI graphics.

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The bc2200 features a single-core AMD Athlon 64 processor along with 520MHz memory speed and integrated ATI graphics, and is aimed at lower-powered applications. The bc2200 uses 25 watts per blade, which means that a full rack of 280 PC blades uses 7.4 kilowatts of power.

HP launched an authorized partner program for reselling blade clients in November 2007. The partner-authorization process includes a five-day training requirement described as "a very simple technical class" by John Russell, manager of HP's Blade PC Partner Program.

Although originally targeted at enterprises, HP is now able to sell its blade PCs in much smaller deployments through authorized partners, Russell said.

"In North America, we now have customers with as few as 20 blade PCs ranging up to the thousands," he said.

A client virtualization "explosion" is coming over the next couple of years, said Dan Nordhues, HP's blade client marketing chief, but the technology still faces challenges to adoption that are similar to those faced by server virtualization during its proving stage.

"It is in its infancy, and whenever technologies are in their infancy, there are early adopter folks that move first and then it becomes more mainstream," Nordhues said. "But in the next couple of years [client virtualization] will really accelerate."

HP's new "Starter SANs" are aimed at helping customers new to storage area networking simplify the process of creating, accessing and managing shared storage resources, HP said.

They are based on technology HP got when it acquired LeftHand last October.

LeftHand was a developer of iSCSI appliances and virtual storage appliances, and competed against EqualLogic, which was acquired by Dell early last year.

The LeftHand technology automatically balances data volumes across multiple disk drives, network connections and processors to ease the installation of a SAN to virtualized server environments, HP said.

The LeftHand SAS Starter SAN features SAS hard disk storage, and can scale to more than 80 network ports and 320 hard drives, HP said. Pricing for a 4.8-Tbyte entry configuration starts at $35,000.

The LeftHand SATA Starter SAN includes SATA drives for higher capacity at a lower cost-per-Gbyte price than the SAS version. Pricing, which HP said has dropped about 25 percent on a per-Gbyte basis, starts at $30,000 for a 12-Tbyte configuration.

Damon Poeter contributed to this article.