HP Blurs Data Center Lines With Server/Switch

The ProCurve ONE embedded server blade and Data Center Connection Manager alter the roles various vendors and devices play in the data center.
Hewlett-Packard today released an embedded server blade that fits into higher-end ProCurve switches and a combined virtualization and network management technology. The new products blur the lines among the roles various vendors and devices play in the data center.

The server blade, the Open Network Ecosystem Services zl Module, is HP's answer to Cisco's Application Extension platform, which can run Cisco or third-party Linux apps on Cisco Integrated Services routers. ONE's initial apps include a co-developed Microsoft/HP network security and identity server, MacAfee network security, Avaya unified communications, F5 application acceleration, and Riverbed WAN optimization.

The program is open, meaning that anyone who wants to run an app on the services module (whatever the operating system) can do so. "ProCurve ONE is all about removing complexity," Matt Zanner, worldwide director of data center networking for HP ProCurve, said in an interview. "If the customer is interested in tying apps closer to the network infrastructure, they shouldn't be limited by whatever the vendor is offering or by the limited scope of the network provider's given partner program."

HP's been successful with low-end switches against Cisco in recent years, but its success here is predicated on HP's formidable data center sales team being able to sell IT managers on its higher-end switches partially by playing up HP's server expertise. HP may soon come up against another move by Cisco, which is expected to soon announce its own new server, code-named California, but HP hopes to push the envelope, too. "There's a lot of work going on between ProCurve and the other businesses within [HP's technology systems group] to make sure HP as a whole can deliver better, faster, stronger, more integrated solutions over time," Zanner said.

The ONE module isn't simply a repackaged HP server blade, but HP did leverage server components and expertise to build it. It includes an Intel Core 2 Duo chipset, 4 GB of memory, and a 250-GB hard drive. Future plans include introducing virtualization, new form factors, and closer coupling with management. The ONE module lists at $5,995 and fits into ProCurve's 5400zl and 8200-series switches.

HP's also announcing ProCurve Data Center Connection Manager, which automatically provisions network and server resources based on policies and helps data center managers and network managers work together on the deployment of networked computing resources. It's a smaller subset of some of the data center automation tools found in HP's Opsware products.

Data Center Connection Manager helps automate some of these policies and procedures that would typically be handled manually and separately by network and server admins through features like a digital inventory of defined network connections and the policies associated with those connections. "It ties together provisioning and managing," Zanner said. DCCM will be available in April.