HP Boosts Telcom Computing Capabilities

Hewlett-Packard rolled out new servers this week specially modified for the telco market that will give carriers some needed extra horsepower as they tackle increased traffic volumes and kinds of traffic.

These new servers are designed to be especially useful for wireless carriers, which are transmitting all kinds of mixed data over their networks. Ten to twenty years ago when the wireless network was constructed, it was built with the intention of carrying just voice. Now it has to carry Internet traffic, HTTP requests, text messages and multimedia messages.

Plus, now there are wireless carriers offering deals with netbooks, which means even more Internet traffic running over the telco provider’s backbones. “[Smartphones and netbooks] are absolutely driving the need more for compute power,” Lloyd Mayhew, worldwide business development manager for HP (NYSE: HPQ) telcom infrastructure products, told InternetNews.com.

Perhaps most famously, AT&T doesn’t offer multimedia message service (MMS), the ability to send a picture with a text message and was ridiculed for it by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) at the launch of the iPhone3G S.

“AT&T doesn’t have MMS because the backbone of the network needs more bandwidth. So there’s backbone issues, airlink issues, and when you get off the tower and back to the central office, like how do you switch it?” said Mayhew.

The new servers “speed up everything, if you are talking about a wireless network with your cell phone. There’s a lot of apps around wireless, like MMS and SMS. These require more and more processing power in a given area.”

To that end, HP on Wednesday introduced four new Network Equipment Building System (NEBS)-compliant products for telcos in the U.S. and ETSI-compliant for Europe. A NEBS certification is mandatory to be used in telcos because it means the hardware meets specs required by the telco, such as -48 volt power supply and the ability to withstand disasters like earthquakes.

Bring on the big iron

Two of the four new products are blade servers, the ProLiant BL460c G6, which comes with the Xeon 5500 family of processors and an Integrity BL860c, based on Intel’s Itanium 9100 processor. There is also a single rack machine, the ProLiant DL380 G6, which also sports the new Xeon 5500. All three blades fit into HP’s c7000 blade chassis.

The carrier-grade platforms support all of the operating environments HP supports, including Windows, Linux, HP-UX, OpenVMS and Solaris from Sun Microsystems. Sun and HP recently struck an agreement to provide full software support for Sun Solaris 10 on the HP ProLiant and HP BladeSystem platforms.

The fourth product is HP’s StorageWorks MSA2000fc G2 external disk array, which connects to the servers and is NEBS certified. This provides the blades with external storage either via serial-attached SCSI (SAS) or Fibre Channel.

Customers pay a slight premium for NEBS compliance, mostly because of the specialized DC power supplies (they are only used in telcos) and the extra time spent on certification and testing. The ProLiant blades start at about $3,450 with a single Xeon E5540 processor and 2GB of memory.

Mayhew said more and more standard IT technology is coming to the once-proprietary telco sector.

“There really is no difference between enterprise and carrier-grade products,” he said. “What we’re seeing in telephony is it’s merging with the IT industry. As the telcos move to a more standard backbone and use features like MMS, they are using standard IT equipment.”

Adding this kind of compute power means a lot more capabilities for MMS and IPTV .

“There’s been an explosion in apps on your mobile phone and the network equipment providers want to provide this on central office equipment,” said Mayhew. “Using standard IT equipment make it easier to do software transcoding and it tends to be much more energy efficient than other products.”

The HP telephony products are available now.

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