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HP Blades Day 2010: Final Thoughts

March 3rd, 2010 1 comment

This is my 5th consecutive post on HP Blades day.  So far no videos have been uploaded, just the coverage of the event and pictures. This post primarily focuses on what I feel we saw at HP in terms of things that will help them, challenges in the market and where all this may go.

There has been at least 6 to 8 hours of video recording on my flip camera; starting tomorrow I will upload these videos only of the most interesting sessions on the blog.

Satellite View of HP Facilities in Houston, TX

The coverage of the event can also be found on Greg Knieriemen’s Infosmack Podcast on Storage Monkeys, here.

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Positives

This event was a very smart move by HP and as far as I can see they have exceeded their expectations with this event. Though I felt the twitter activity with HP Tech Day (Storage, #hptechday) was much higher than what we saw with this event HP Blades Day (Blades, #hpbladesday). Though the after discussions have taken over the blogging, twitter and the Internet press by surprise with the number of tweets, blogs and press articles written about this event.

Clearly for me this was a good platform to learn, understand and share some visions and technologies related to HP Blade products. I have been a storage focused individual, but only with a shallow knowledge of the blades architecture and infrastructure. This was a great event for myself to understand the depth of these products and take a deep dive into the interworking of converged infrastructure. An Event like this helps understand and connect the dots together with future products and emerging technologies. As this was a non-NDA event, we didn’t have preview to the next generation of HP Blade products.

One thing that is pretty visible and positive is that HP has managed to mobilize resources in the direction of integrating internal resources relating to converged infrastructure. Though its obvious and again visible that at places, they have not been able to fulfill that dream entirely.

There were some awkward moments where the engineering teams were asked to not do a deep-dive on other vendor technologies. The marketing folks spoke about some strategy related to these technologies and painted an overall picture. The mix of people involved with the presentations and demos seem to accomplish the agenda. Marketing pitches by social media and marketing teams along with engineering details by the architecture teams seemed to accomplish their goals.

The highlight of the sessions were a 45 min talk with the CTO of StorageWorks, Paul Perez and the competitive intelligence session that was hosted my Gary Thome and his team to compare HP Blades products with Dell, IBM and Cisco UCS. Discussions around CEE and Virtual Connect were pretty interesting.

HP emphasized the 250 million dollar investment with Microsoft over and over during the HP Blades Day. This proves that they value this partnership heavily and possibly have a roadmap associated in the future with great integration with Microsoft products.

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Challenges

HP emphasizes a lot on converged datacenters and the products it’s gearing for the next generation. But an integration vision from a convergence management was still lacking, a direction or a strategy on how these pieces of puzzle will be joined together and managed. HP clearly owns all the stacks of the next generation products, but again the orchestration and integration is one thing that is not very clear yet. Say too big and too much to manage!!!

With Networking products and the focus on Virtual Connect, HP seems to be moving in the right direction, but again when it comes to FCoE and CEE (Converged Enhanced Ethernet) the direction is pretty unknown. It’s sort of wait and watch as to where the market goes and drives demands, a lack of vision in real terms. HP clearly has a big competition from Cisco when it comes to the Networking stack.

With Storage products, HP clearly has a very big competition with already proven Vendors and their technologies like EMC, NetApp and IBM. Also technologies that are strong and emerging would largely cause market nuisance or focus disruption for HP.

With the Blade products, HP is a market leader, but truly considers Dell, IBM and Cisco as the biggest threats and sort of prepared to fight against it. Seems the next generation Rack and Blade products might seem to have a lot of integration with storage and networking.

The services story, with the acquisition of EDS, HP made a move in the right direction being the first in the market to do so. With the latest acquisitions from Dell of Perot Systems, from Oracle of SUN Microsystems and by Xerox of ACS, large vendors are all trying to fulfill the services gap. HP clearly has a big competition with IBM and Oracle in the space.

The VCE (VMware, Cisco, EMC) coalition: What are your thoughts. It’s pretty amazing to see HP not mention the word ‘cloud’ these two days. Focus has been virtualization and the partnership with VMware, but really no focus on moving toward utility market and integration of all next gen products for converged datacenters with the underlying virtualization layer. May be the Microsoft partnership may fulfill this.

VMware or Microsoft: They didn’t say this, but seems something is cooking. The partnership with Microsoft and the investment of 250 million dollars will create some friction with VMware, at least my guess. Next gen products may utilize Hyper-V as an underlying virtualization layer rather than using the default VMware Hypervisor.

HP still needs a very strong storage technology in the Enterprise space that is their own and not OEM’d. The truth is, eventually the HP – Hitachi relationship has to come to an end with HP’s new product that may compete in the same market space. This strategy will enable HP to be very unique in terms of the markets they serve, which may include their own in-house storage products for SMB, Midsize and Enterprise customers.

So other lacking things from HP were the Cloud Strategy (if they ever plan to enter that space), FCoE discussions, Procurve and Storage Management as it relates to Insight Software.

It may have been very hard to cover all these platforms in a day and a half with giving all the technology details behind it. Also remember this was a non-NDA session, so we were not preview to all the future products and technologies.

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Summary

Overall HP did hammer us for 2 consecutive days with HP Blades Technology. Coming out of it, I can truly say, HP had so much focus on datacenter convergence. Their move to hire Dave Donatelli was a smart one many of his strategic moves and direction in the ESSN (Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking) are pretty visible now.

Apart from GestaltIT Techfield Day, HP is still the only OEM to arrange Bloggers Invite Only Event. The ratio of Bloggers to HP Personnel was 1:2, giving everyone a lot of attention.

Now the question is who will be next OEM to do a similar event and what will they do to prove themselves different. Already hearing some buzz in the industry about some the effects of HP Blades Day and some possible events from other OEMs.

But I clearly see an advantage of an event like this and the after effects of it, good move HP Marketing Team! Along with Ivy Worldwide!!

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Disclaimer: This event is sponsored by HP and hosted in Houston, TX. HP paid all the flight, living and mostly food expenses. This is a bloggers – invitation only event. No products have been given by HP.

HP Blades Day 2010: Friday – Day 2

March 2nd, 2010 No comments

Again an early AM start today, with a busy schedule ahead at HPBladesday.

The day kicked off with some Q&A on the topics covered from the previous day. We all had full access to the team from yesterday to see if there were any questions.

Most of the questions were around FCoE, Convergence, Blades infrastructure and the discussion on the Tolly Report.

Tolly Report

Some discussions on this report by Stephen Foskett

Some discussions on this report by Kevin Houston

After the Q&A session, Joseph George took the stage with a presentation on Client Virtualization and HP product overview; covering the VDI solutions offered my HP. This was an insightful presentation on how the HP blades and software infrastructure can be used with VDI.

Joseph George

Kevin Houston, Rich Brambley, Simon Seagrave

Martin Macleod and the HP Team

After a demo of the Client Virtualization lab, we went for the Factory Express tour.

Chris Evans

The factory express tour was presented my Denise Herdman, Jean Brandau and Wade Vinson. We all got to see how the HP systems were assembled both the Servers and Storage in different factories. How they performed quality testing, how they were all packaged, etc. This was a great tour of the facilities giving us a full access to how supply chain works within HP from a customer entering an order to how the equipment is fulfilled. Quite an operation….

Greg - www.iknerd.com

After the factory express, we were given the HP pod (performance optimized datacenter) tour; think of this as a datacenter in a trailer. Wow…. it was impressive. Here are some pictures. These HP pod datacenters are 40% more efficient than the typical conventional datacenters.

Simon Seagrave in the POD



Systems inside a POD

The day was coming to an end. We were at the last destination of the day, at a Mexican restaurant having lunch. After the lunch headed back to the hotel. It was time for the final goodbyes to the Bloggers, HP and Ivy worldwide teams. But there were about 5 of us staying back that day.

Enjoyed the rest of the day, a bit of a relax, worked out at the gym, had a quite dinner, a drink and hitting the bed early to leave back home next morning.

Though both the blog posts from today and yesterday were just an overview of the activity we did at HP, some deepdive sessions and videos from the event are forthcoming.

Disclaimer: This event is sponsored by HP and hosted in Houston, TX. The flight, living and mostly food expenses were all paid by HP. This is a bloggers – invitation only event. No products have been given by HP.

HP Blades Day 2010 – Archives of #hpbladesday (hashtag) on Twitter

March 1st, 2010 No comments

Here is the #hpbladesday (hashtag) on Twitter broken down based on activity dates. An archive of all activity on Twitter.

Archives available to download, with Pre-Event Tweets, Day 1 Tweets, Day 2 Tweets and Post Event Tweets.

HP-Blades-Day-(Post-Event)

HP-Blades-Day-(Day-2)

HP-Blades-Day-(Day-1)

HP-Blades-Day-(Pre-Event)

Feel free to download the links (in PDF Format)

Cheers
@storagenerve

HP Blades Day 2010: Thursday – Day 1

March 1st, 2010 No comments

Today’s day started early for us, with early AM breakfast and then a shuttle to the HP facilities.

As this was my second “blogger event” at HP, I sort of expected some common things between the first #hptechday and than this #hpbladesday. Though the social media folks from HP and Ivyworldwide were all there, we saw a new team of folks from HP that manage and run the Blades Division.

The blades, storage and networking products infrastructure currently falls under a corporate umbrella ESSN (Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networking) headed by Dave Donatelli. Though this wasn’t a storage event, we all expected the primary theme of this event to be around Convergence.

HP Facilities

All Blogger Attending #HPBLADESDAY

The opening and the welcomes were done by Alyson Griffin (Director of Marketing for Blades and Infrastructure Software). She gave a view into where HP currently is with its blades and other business units and how different business segments were trending.

Gary Thome, the Chief Strategist and Chief Architect for the Blades platform took the stage. As expected Gary knows this business inside out and pretty much was the focal point of contact for any technical questions through out the entire event.

Gary Thome

To see all the Bloggers around the table, a video by Calvin Zito.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C3_qoRwWUQ

Our primary contact through this entire event has been Becca Taylor, Social Media Manager for HP. She was along with us at every lunch, dinner and attended all the events. Great host and really took care of all the logistics around this event.

Early morning we had a hiccup with the Internet. It seems like HP doesn’t allow or have Guest networks in the building where the bloggers were invited. They had arranged for Cradle point routers in the conference room, but as multiple people joined these cradle point routers, it just started acting bizarre and dropped everyone’s connections.

It took them a while to get the Internet situation resolved by providing us with AT&T based broadband connections. This news made it to the Twitter stream. Hope going forward with any HP events, we do not see an Internet issue.

Then HP brought in a partner Nth Generation from San Diego, CA and the President of Nth Generation Mark Gonzalez gave his opinions on how they manage to compete in the IT reseller/var market with there strong partnership with HP.

Look for the GESTALTIT's (G) in the presentation my Mark

Then Mike Kendall took the stage to talk about Virtual Connect technology and HP’s direction with it. It will be very hard to include that part of the presentation in this post; I will focus a separate blog post on where HP is going with its Virtual Connect technology.

Some highlights of the conversation were…

Network Convergence: FCoE and CEE (Lossless Ethernet).

CEE is also referenced as DCB (Data center Bridging). EVD (edge virtual bridging).

DCB + Traditional Ethernet = Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE)

EVB Standards (802.1Qbg)

Virtual Ethernet Bridge (VEB)

Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregation (VEPA)

Multichannel

Remote Replication

HP Virtual Connect Qualities: Simplified, Converged, Integrated, Reduced complexity

After lunch, Gary Thome and his team including James Singer took us to their demo lab for a presentation on HP Blade systems. This was really a hands-on-lab demo with us being able to photograph every component within the HP Blade servers.



Then we went to the HP Insight Software presentation and demo labs. Though this was quite interesting, the HP Insight software raises some very basic questions around convergence. It has one-way integration to receive alerts within Vmware Infrastructure Manager with HP blades. Other questions that we asked were around integration of Insight Software with Storage products.

As much as HP likes to talk about Convergence related to infrastructure, it almost seems at this point that HP basically lacks a single pane of glass view into these converged products. It uses Insight manager to manage server products but for storage products it uses different tools. Also the HP-HDS products do not fit into this mode today. Another observation was the Insight Software products are currently not compatible with its Enterprise Non-stop platform (S Series).

During this demo, HP spend quite a bit of time on the Power capping related to its blade systems. How HP uses power management and DPS in its products and manages efficiency with its blade systems. It was quite a good demo…

Then we were presented with the HP Matrix software demo. The above 3 demos were done my John Schmitz, Bryan Jacquot and Tom Turicchi.

Then we headed back to the Blades lab for some competitive analysis. Wow, these guys had every blade server in there from their competition. HP blades were compared to Dell Blades, Cisco UCS and IBM Blades. Quite an analysis of all different components and how these components affect the performance metrics. This presentation was done my Gary Thome and James Singer along with Mike Kendall. There were quite a few other folks that were present at this competitive analysis session. For the hands-on guys, this was one of the dream sessions to see everything upwards, backwards, inside, outside, questions, comparisons, analysis, etc….

The day was almost coming to an end, when we just found out, that Paul Perez, CTO of HP Storageworks was coming in for a 30 min talk with all the bloggers. I have to honestly say, given my background and interest in storage, this was one of the most interesting part of my day.

I should call this session Paul Perez Unplugged. Expect the video to be released on this blog sometime later this week. We had a very good session with Paul talking about HP’s storage strategy, vision, where it sees itself and where is it headed.

Paul Perez

Then we returned back to the hotel and were ready to leave for dinner sponsored my HP at the Mia Bella Restaurant in Houston. Food was good, had a nice time with other bloggers, HP and Ivyworldwide folks.

Headed back to the hotel. Someone just got an idea to go to a Karaoke bar that night. After a tired and long day, here we all hopped in a cab to head there. It was a very fun evening/night with Stephen Foskett, Greg Knieriemen, Frank Owen, Chris Evans, Halley Bass and Calvin Zito, I honestly have to say, these guys can sing.

After a long day and night, calling it off, hope we have an exciting day tomorrow.

Disclaimer: This event is sponsored by HP and hosted in Houston, TX. The flight, living and mostly food expenses were all paid by HP. This is a bloggers – invitation only event. No products have been given by HP.