Opening The Kimono: HP Labs Previews Upcoming Technology

CTO Fink And Friends Open Up On Upcoming HP Projects

Hewlett-Packard CTO Martin Fink used the recent HP Global Partner Conference to offer solution provider partners a peek at upcoming new solutions from HP.

Actually, to say the new solutions are coming from HP may not be right, as HP on Nov. 1 is slated to divide into two organizations: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which includes HP's enterprise infrastructure and Helion cloud business, and HP Inc., centered primarily around its printing and PC business.

To that end, Fink brought a few executives from both Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. on stage to discuss some of the projects they are working on.

To see what customers and channel partners will see from the new HPs in the near future, turn the page.

Having Fun At HP Labs

The upcoming new products and solutions are being developed by HP Labs, which is run by Fink.

HP Labs focuses on leading-edge technology, Fink said.

"If I'm not failing, if my group is not failing, we're not doing our job," he said. "Our failure rate ratio needs to be much, much higher."

Fink And 'The Machine'

HP is continuing to develop what it calls "The Machine," a new computer architecture which is slated to utilize photonic instead of electrical connections between components while collapsing flash storage, DRAM and SRAM into a single memory pool using memristor universal memory technology to get rid of the distinction between memory, I/O and storage.

Fink said the first prototype of The Machine, which he has been talking about for a few years, is being built using DRAM as a way to accelerate its finalization. "You may look at me and say, 'DRAM is not nonvolatile,'" he said. "And that's true, if you don't turn off the power."

The prototype is expected to have more than 2,000 cores and up to 400 TBs of memory in a rack, Fink said. "I'm building an all-main memory machine, and I have access to a single large pool of main memory," he said.

The Machine

Both HPE and HPI will continue to cooperate on developing The Machine (shown here in a mock-up demonstration unit) because the final version will be much more than a new computer, Fink said.

"While I'll be focused on building, let's call it the 'very large,' remember that the 'soul' of The Machine is to change the architecture of the computer," he said. "And that computer doesn't mean it's a mainframe [or] it's a supercomputer. It could be a phone, a watch, a tablet. Or it could be a supercomputer, a desktop, a laptop, etc. And so HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will continue to collaborate on The Machine, because both companies will gain so much by having the technology and expertise around building up volume around this architecture, and building capabilities around this architecture, and a combination of both."

3-D Printing

Shane Wall, CTO of HP's Printer and Personal Systems (HP PPS) business and the future CTO of HP Inc., said HP Inc. will be adopting a strategy he called "blended reality" to face the fast changes in both the physical and digital parts of the IT world.

3-D printing has a huge potential to change the users' carry-out daily activities, Wall said.

"Instead of having to go to the store and buy a part, or sit on your couch and figure out at Amazon, or whatever your favorite shopping site is what [you] want to buy and then buy it, what it allows you to do is sit on your couch, design the part on your couch, print it out the way you want it, and you have it instantly," he said. "This suddenly becomes the next Industrial Revolution."

3-D Printing Samples

Wall said HP Labs has created Multi Jet Fusion, a way to jump past current 3-D printing technology with solutions that offer 10 times the speed and 20 percent of the cost of traditional printing with increased flexibility.

As examples, Wall showed a dinosaur "skull" that was printed in a single pass, and a pair of scissors that was also printed in a single print job and then assembled. He also showed a camera-type lens, where each part, including each shutter, were printed on different printers and then assembled to show the accuracy of the print.

IoT And Wearables

Wall, shown here with an HP coffee-cup holder printed with a Multi Jet Fusion printer, said HP also is developing novel approaches to the Internet of Things.

"Being a printing company, we can take paper and actually associate it with a digital service," he said. "And that impacts things like stock, and workflow and management."

On the wearables side, Wall said HP had done lots of studies about what users want, and found the approach to the market, so far, has been fundamentally wrong.

While not naming Apple, Wall said others have developed very bright smartwatches with many apps and a battery life of 4 or 5 hours. The HP approach was to design a watch with fashion in mind, and give it battery life of seven days and the ability to add specific functions and sensors.

There will be other form factors, Wall said. "What's the most common wearable that we have today in the enterprise?" he said. "Everybody has one. It's your badge. Everybody has a badge. And so trying to draft off of existing models, and then build technologies and solutions around them that are personal in nature, is where we're gonna focus in PPS."

Connecting The Dots On Big Data

Ajay Singh, HP Software's senior vice president and general manager for IT operations management, said that when it comes time to connecting the dots on data, HP is making big bets on IDOL and Vertica big data analytics platforms.

Singh said HP is looking at new applications for big data, including predictive service management for ticketless IT. "What if you can prevent [a problem] from happening in the first place?" he said. "You'll improve customer satisfaction."

HP plans to make IDOL available as an on-demand service. For instance, for an online travel site getting more comments than anyone can understand, IDOL might be used to analyze the comments and provide the gist of the sentiment, Singh said. Big data could also be combined with dev-ops to predict problems with an application. "You don't have to test everything," he said.

Building An Architecture For The Future

HP realizes that most applications are being developed by the line-of-business people at customers, and so the company is focusing heavily on better solutions for developers, said Mark Potter, CTO of HP's Enterprise Group.

HP is a leader in compute, storage and open networking technologies, and is looking at ways to pool those resources to align them around workloads and ensure software has full access to those resources, Potter said. "We're going to have an incredibly pertinent and relevant architecture for the next decade," he said.

That new architecture will be unveiled in June at the HP Discover conference, Potter said. "[You'll] see what is going to be one of the biggest announcements HP makes all year, and probably for several years," he said.

HP also will roll out technology to automatically align the right data protection services to fit applications on 3PAR storage, and on a new architecture to tie the next-generation wireless access points from its Aruba acquisition with wired networking technology.

Liking What HP Is Planning

Rich Baldwin (left), CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and HP channel partner, told CRN, after the Fink and friends look at the future, that it is interesting how HP is emphasizing R&D.

"In the past, R&D has been in the background, but now they're bringing it to the foreground," Baldwin said. "This is great. It shows HP is really focused on R&D."

Nth CTO Dan Molina (center) said HP is becoming more transparent. "HP is letting customers see more of its road map," Molina told CRN. "And HP Labs is showing that it is moving faster than before to move its new products to business customers."

Nth President Jan Baldwin (right) told CRN that she has been hearing about The Machine for a long time, and is looking forward to seeing components of The Machine being quickly implemented in other HP solutions like 3PAR.