HP’s answer to vBlock – Meet the HP Virtual System for VMWare

On Monday, August 29th HP publically announced the release of several new products under the Converged Infrastructure portfolio.  At VMWorld, in front of a large gathering at the HP booth I literally watched the covers being pulled off the new “HP Virtual System for VMWare.” Three models have been introduced, the VS1, VS2, and VS3.   Before we go on let’s take a ten thousand foot view look at the base systems, which start at $130,000 (VS1) to get us primed.  After that I will provide some of my thoughts on this new product.  Let’s begin with a table I put together…

BASE

MODEL

CLIENT SIZE

HOST NODES

MGMT NODES

NETWORKING

STORAGE

SOFTWARE

HP VS1 Mid-Market DL380G7 Rack Server DL360G7 HP A58XX Switching P4500 vSphere 5 Ent. + – (vCenter Std)- Insight Control for vCenter
HP VS2 Enterprise C7000 Blades Chassis w/ BL460 G7 DL360 G7 HP A58XX Switching | Virtual Connect Flex 10 on host nodes P4800 vSphere 5 Ent. + – (vCenter Std)- Insight Control for vCenter
HP VS3 Large Enterprise C7000 Blades Chassis w/ BL460 G7 DL360 G7 HP A58XX Switching – Virtual Connect Flex 10 on host nodes – B-Series SAN Switches 3Par F-Class vSphere 5 Ent. + – (vCenter Std) – Insight Control for vCenter

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into each system and take a look at some snippets from the HP datasheets.

HP VS1 – Mid-Market – 2 Configs – Up to 700 VM’s (Est.)

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HP VS2  – Enterprise – 2 Configs – 2500 VM’s (Est.)

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HP VS3 – Large Enterprise – 3 Configs – 6000 VM’s (Est.)

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It’s obvious that this is HP’s long awaited response to the Vblock solution that was introduced all the way back in November of 2009.  Vblock is a joint venture between three companies which includes: VMWare (ESX), Cisco (Blades/Fabric), and EMC (Storage).  This offering was ideal for customers who were seeking a total solution for setting up a complete virtual environment. Thus far, the program has been very successful and I give EMC and Cisco all the credit in the world for architecting this solution.

The individual components of the VS system have been on the market for purchase for quite some time but, now with the acquisition of Lefthand and 3Par HP finally has the right ingredients to deliver a solution that will stand toe to toe with Vblock.    Aligning with HP’s “Instant-on Enterprise” campaign this system lets you do in days what used to take weeks or even months.  Rolling out an entire infrastructure has never been easier.  Each model includes a base configuration with options on beefing up the components or adding some more redundancy.

The big value add here is taking away many of the pain points that have affected IT departments.  Let’s map out a scenario here.

Our make believe company called “JAV Innovations” has just invented a revolutionary new add-on product for your cell phone that allows it to run off of solar power in tandem with your battery.  The company is growing rapidly and needs to build out an infrastructure immediately to support all the new employees joining the firm.  Each day without a properly sized infrastructure will cost JAV Innovations money and precious go-to-market time.  JAV’s IT department wants to utilize vSphere 5 with 1000VM’s across the proper amount of HP Servers on premise.  The team has decided that an iSCSI SAN would properly fit their needs but will require 10gb connectivity.   JAV did not anticipate the rapid amount of growth in such a short amount of time so the original datacenter offers no room for expansion.  Also, building engineers indicate that they can only offer a limited increase in power.  JAV’s CIO realizes that a data center expansion will push the project months out while the necessary construction improvements can be made.  The CIO now turns to HP who recommends the HP Virtual System for VMWare and decides on the VS2 to meet all requirements.

Let’s create a quick table to summarize on how this project will impact some areas of IT when utilizing traditional servers and storage.

JAV Innovations Infrastructure project

IT FUNCTION

PAIN POINTS BEFORE HP VIRTUAL SYSTEM FOR VMWARE

CTO-CIO
  • Inform JAV Executives of new unexpected construction requirements for data center expansion.  Will add months to the build out.
  • Budget: New construction and modifications.  Piecing together all hardware/software required to create total solution.  Cost of warranties and support of each component.  Additional expense of bringing in outside consultants to assemble all hardware once it arrives.
IT Purchasing
  • Create a large bill of materials with each part for accurate pricing.  This requires a lot of time, detail and communication between different units including the IT Architects and Engineers to determine list of parts needed.  This can easily translate into overlooking supporting components; mistakes on part numbers, backorder delays, etc.  This creates lost time and money on the project which the CIO does not want.
IT Architect Majority of his time will be spent with the overall design and working with peers on piecing this project together.  If this is an outside consultant this will be a substantial cost to the firm.  On some occasions this position will create the project plan for the Engineers to follow.
IT Engineer Once all materials are delivers and sitting at your door the Engineers will have to unbox and setup everything..  This takes the Engineer away from the usual duties and can leave critical daily tasks left unattended.  If this role is an outside consultant this can once again cost big bucks.

JAV Innovations Infrastructure project

IT FUNCTION

VALUE ADD PROVIDED BY HP VIRTUAL SYSTEM FOR VMWARE

CTO-CIO
  • The HP VS2 will meet all requirements set by JAV’s IT dept.  Since the entire system is enclosed in a 42u rack JAV will not have to extend the data center footprint.  Blade servers run much more efficient than traditional rack servers so JAV will not have to burn through more power then what can be currently allocated by the building. Overall cooling is not a primary concern since your footprint has not grown tremendously.  The exiting HVAC until should be enough to accommodate the extra equipment.  Also, as JAV continues to grow the VS2 can easily be upgraded to the VS3 without a rip and replace.  This is huge!
IT Purchasing
  • The VS2 includes the SAN, blade servers, Chassis with all modules, switches, vSphere 5,  Insight Manager, 3 Year bumper to bumper warranty on all hardware and software components.  Also,  if you have existing vSphere licenses HP can account for them and subtract them from the price.  The best part is all of this falls under just one SKU!
IT Architect
  • 90% of the guesswork is already done for the architect.  HP has already done the performance and sizing testing.  All you have to worry about is the basics.  The IT Architect’s time is now greatly reduced and can be spent on more pressing details.  The VS2 has 10gb Virtual Connect capabilities so this will satisfy all of my storage traffic.
IT Engineer
  • HP will come and setup the system for you and even pre-plugin the IP addressing for you form the factory.  This means the system is fully tested for you before leaving the factory.  You can now rely on the manufacturers expertise on installing everything with their best practices in mind.  The Engineer no longer has to waste time setting up the basics.  He will just be integrating the system into the existing environment and get VM’s rolling out in days.

Overall, I feel this is a step in the right direction for HP.  With the recent negative press on some business decisions this shows that HP is still innovating and is dedicated with reducing the complexity and execution time that is usually associated with an Enterprise Infrastructure.  With the VS the stress and time has been greatly reduced on every IT unit.  Now, you can literally plug and play and have your infrastructure up in days!

Hopefully in the next few months I will be able to do some more write-ups from the field on deploying this system in the real world.  There is a lot more information and value add from the VS that should become apparent after reading this article.   Hope everyone enjoyed the article and leave a comment if you have any questions.

Check out the VS for VMWare HP website.  http://h18006.www1.hp.com/storage/server-solutions/virtual-system-vmware.html

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