RealTime IT News

HP, Microsoft Team on High-End Virtualization

The challenges of virtualization continue to bring hardware and software vendors together. Today, HP is tying its adaptive infrastructure suite of software and hardware designed for always on-datacenters into Microsoft's back office software -- including System Center, Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, and Virtual Machine Manager -- when running on HP ProLiant and HP BladeServer hardware.

The collaboration, unveiled at the Microsoft Management Summit, brings all the information together on one Web-based console, said Scott Farrand, vice president of HP (NYSE: HPQ) infrastructure software and BladeSystem servers.

The HP software delivers hardware data such as number of processors, disk space utilization, and hardware errors. The Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) software delivers data on memory errors and RAID performance that the HP software doesn't see.

The data has always been available but it has not necessarily been easy to find. "In the past, HP (and Dell and IBM as well) delivered value into Microsoft System Center but it was unintegrated," said Farrand.

Power management

The result is a powerful suite of controls that can enable datacenter managers to do things they would not have attempted before. One example is granular proactive automated power management at the server level.

A server's power draw rises exponentially as a function of CPU utilization, Farrand said. Between an idle CPU and 100 percent utilization, the power draw can go up five times. The final 20 percent of CPU utilization is the most expensive.

So for applications that are not too time sensitive, a manager could cap the CPU utilization at 80 percent or less. The result is to delay activity but not to kill it. E-mail could go into queues, for example. "In no case would we starve the CPU so that its workload would not survive. It delays performance but doesn't fail the application," Farrand said.

He said that this feature distinguishes HP from the competition. "You won't find it in [IBM's] X-Series," he said.

That may be because it's not easy to imitate. HP's technology monitors demand over several days, weeks, or months before it is ready to enable power capping. It produces statistics on average and peak loads and allows managers to decide what to do with the data.

The technology could enable datacenter architects to provision less unneeded power, Farrand said. He noted that most data centers provision enough power for every server running at maximum power, but claimed that with the new technology, they can cut power usage by two-thirds.

Even if you don't implement these power management features, you'll still benefit from the software, the companies said. The key impact of today's announcement will be on the efficiency of people. "It simplifies work and makes network administrators more productive, reducing total cost of ownership," concluded Farrand.

HP ICE-SC is sold as one integrated solution that will be available as a single download from The $549 price is per server and includes the Insight Control pieces with one year of software technical support and updates. This price does not include Microsoft System Center.