This convergence of new and existing technologies is creating new opportunities for the IT industry. In fact, as IDC, the leading industry researcher, points out networked storage growth is over 80 per cent in many companies and industries, and despite the global economic downturn, will increase by 51 per cent across all organisations in 2010.
In what is a blueprint for the data centre of the future, eliminating costly, rigid IT silos, enabling one to increase asset allocation to business innovation, HP sees converged infrastructure driving tomorrow’s markets. Such infrastructure will fuse servers, storage, and networks with facilities – all managed through a common management platform. It will lead to common industry standards, resulting in a new level of simplicity, integration and automation that can accelerate business outcomes. This next phase in IT is evolutionary, not disruptive. Newer converged architectures will need to coexist with installed technology and support data centre strategies that have been in place for the past several years, particularly with respect to server virtualisation, consolidation and addressing power and cooling constraints.
And unlike what many people see this emerging scenario as: this is not simply a business centric process. Instead, it is a system that creates standards, enabling multi-side environments to interact with one another. Says Kyle Fitze, Marketing Director, HP StorageWorks, Storage Area Network Division, “you have a lot of commonality and you get the ability to scale up IT systems and applications. Core to our converged infrastructure strategy is the convergence of industry standard servers and processors. If you look at storage today, increasingly your storage looks like a server running an application with attached drives and we recognise that and we’re looking at ways so we can build a common set of building blocks and architectures. They can both run your applications and ordering systems, as also your storage applications like file services and block services. So building this common infrastructure of server technologies, with the unifying network capability, gives us this building block to deliver various services to our customers.”
Som Satsangi, Director, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking, HP India, looks at increased government focus towards enterprise computing, and points out how it is yet to take off in India
There has been a lot of talk in India from the government and the public sector but we have not seen much investment in enterprise computing. While there were some large deals happening, we are still to see any major shift towards large enterprise server storage use in the country. This is mainly because of the way the tender process is executed in the country. So on the one side, the government is talking of big numbers but on the other side, there are enormous delays. Here the government can learn from the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme(RAPDRP). Since the RAPDRP was a World Bank-funded project, there was a definite timeline on execution of projects. Thus, you will be surprised to know that of the 22 states, 12 states have closed contracts, and of them six states came to HP for infrastructure. RAPDRP is an ideal example for the government on executing new projects. One year and 12 states going and completing the contracts and every contract is to the tune of Rs 1 billion to Rs 4 billion. That is not an easy thing. Why can’t the government adopt the same kind of processes in technology and move in the same direction?
The government has to be more open to avoid the delay of disbursement of money, allocation and implementation. Unless the government moves forward on this, the interest of large organizations will be hard to maintain. For anybody to invest, they have to be confident of the government and also that their investments would pay dividends.
We are very strong in the financial sector. We manage the core banking solutions and computerisation in seven large banks. We are also connected to the regional rural banks (RRBs) under the ambit of these seven banks. All RRBs are going to be very aggressive and our strategy includes two things. Here, we have adopted a clear strategy of aligning with other local players to deliver services. At HP, we are looking at a three-year strategy for some of these large and critical projects. The challenge is, how we can have investments where we are not looking at quarterly or monthly results. We are also looking at the additional headcount, which will probably be doing the job of business development and work as an evangelist in the market space sharing what HP strengths are.
One problem, I feel is that HP is not making any noise about the projects it is executing in the country. As a result, overall awareness about HP’s activities, especially in the government and private sector, continues to remain low. So, we need to create greater public response about what we are also doing in the market space. In fact, to tackle this problem, HP has set up a department - Government Global Alliance - to see how we can help the government and the public sector meet their IT needs. One area where HP has put in a considerable amount of effort is homeland security. ES, an HP arm, is very strong in this sector—in fact, in the US and the UK, ES has provided solutions for their entire homeland security programme.
It is to capture this new, emerging business cycle that HP has created a resilient and robust system that scores over standalone systems. Today, HP has a common platform for servers, disk storage, networks, and even operating systems. Server virtualisation is now a reality, while de-duplication technologies and tiered storage are helping to lower the burden on information systems. As a result, companies are rethinking their plans, with network performance becoming a critical factor for server and storage architecture. While individual technologies are helping to lower up-front capital costs, they have not helped lower management overheads, and their introduction requires significant integration investments. This is where HP’s converged infrastructure systems can help lower costs.
In fact, it was to strengthen its presence in the storage segment that HP acquired 3PAR. Says David Scott, Senior Vice-President, HP StorageWorks, “HP is already the world leader in the server world as well as its systems matrix and management technology. The storage space was one space we felt that we had to strengthen. More importantly, today we are in the middle of two tectonic shifts in the IT world. One is the shift in the IT architecture- the move from distributive computing architecture to converged infrastructure using virtualisation and automation. The second major shift is in the IT delivery model, which has moved from traditional enterprise IT delivery and data centres to delivering enterprise IT as a service in the form of cloud computing. “
This convergence of new and existing technologies is creating new opportunities for the IT industry. In fact, as IDC, the leading industry researcher, points out networked storage growth is over 80 per cent in many companies and industries, and despite the global economic downturn, will increase by 51 per cent across all organisations in 2010. The continued data growth as well as increased deployment of virtual servers is resulting in an IT sprawl, which is causing storage infrastructure to be inflexible, unmanageable, and inefficient. Today, companies and organizations are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. They have to confront four critical infrastructure gaps—even as they experience intense pressure to reign in both capital expenses and operational expenses.
More importantly, a shift to converged infrastructure can lead to significant savings in terms of power and cooling costs. “This is essential as today despite increasing pressure to reduce energy costs and carbon footprints, data centres are demanding more power and cooling than ever. Businesses need ever-increasing computing capabilities to stay competitive, yet many data centres are reaching their capacity limits.”
Geetu Bhatnagar, Director-Public Sector Sales, HP India, says the next growth trajectory for the global IT industry is in services and solutions
Fiscal 2010 has been a good year for HP globally. In fact, it has been a year of transformation, which has seen HP completely diversify its product portfolio, making it a company that offers the complete range of IT products and solutions. In India too, HP has grown in smartly in the services segment, which, I think, is where the growth trajectory lies for the global IT industry. We have done large deals in the financial sector, for example, with Bank of Baroda and Bank of India, and specific to public sector, HP has executed large projects like the implementation of the NIC data centre - one of the largest in the country.
The shift in focus to services in HP has been a conscious decision and the results are there for everyone to see. While earlier our approach was to provide just the hardware, what we have now done is that we have consolidated our approach for the entire customer base. This has enabled us to leverage our global strengths in areas like homeland security, financial solutions, taxation and identity solutions to the government and the public sector in India. The main reason why the public sector IT market has grown in India in recent years is the opening up of the markets.
One approach that HP has been following is that it has dedicated its efforts at specific Central ministries. Thus, HP started with the Defence and Home Ministries and Homeland Security; we focused on Communication and IT, as also the Finance and Transport ministries. In fact, HP has some traditional strengths when it comes to sectors like homeland security—for example, HP has executed a major identity management project for the US armed forces, where the biometric equipment was completely handled by HP.
Here, HP is clear that in areas where it traditionally did not have a strong presence in India, it would not mind joining hands with other system integrators. Thus, HP does not see HCL as a competitor, instead HCL is a key business partner. HP’s go-to-market approach is clearly defined with its system integrator partners. Thus, even for homeland security, an area where HCL has some strengths, we can provide the solutions, which can then be implemented by HCL.
Kyle Fitze, Marketing Director, HP StorageWorks, Storage Area Network Division points out how HP is filling the void that prevents different technologies from working together
HP is today building a common industry standard building block for the convergence of server, storage and networking technologies and layering this with appropriate management software. This is because the future of IT lies in cloud services that will enable IT user develop a more flexible, scalable, efficient and dynamic infrastructure.
Such infrastructure is necessary as there is going to be an information explosion with the needs for data and information increasing exponentially. Consider, for example, the biometric ID project in India. This unique identity project will need to collate information and data of over a billion people, constantly update it and make it available 24x7, necessitating the need for new IT tools. This means that the authorities will have to have the right application infrastructure to deal with such information at the front-end as also the right data storage systems at the back-end.
This is where common standards that HP is working on will have a major role to play. Tomorrow’s IT users will have to deal with a large number of legacy applications and technologies, and it is to ensure proper consolidation of such legacy systems that the common standards will have to be designed. This will give them the ability to scale up the IT systems and applications that are needed as demand increases.
If someone has to put all his eggs in one basket, it better be a very resilient basket. HP, I think, has done a good job of creating a resilient and robust infrastructure. Thus, today If you look at some of our competitors, they have to bring together multiple companies and alliances to try to have a breath of the technology that HP can bring on its own. HP is no.1 in servers, no.1 in total disk storage, no.2 in networks and now with the acquisition of a storage specialist, we have completed the cycle. HP today has one of the most secure systems in place.
While it is true that security means different things to different people - some people think in terms of encryption, others in terms of authentication and still others in terms of access, HP’s solutions cater to all these needs. Access to data and even to the network can be limited, there can be a hierarchy of administrators, multiple worlds and multiple levels—all on the same machine. It also enables users to make use of multiple sources of technology from a single machine.
This allows for a much more dynamic and flexible IT environment. A major advantage of such converged infrastructure is that it drives down both operational and capital costs in the long term even as it improves efficiency and productivity.
Today, if one looks at the major factors that determine any IT strategy—openness and management integration—HP’s converged infrastructure is superior to any alternatives that exist. The HP systems help customers to adapt to technology changes as per changing business requirements without having to build another level of infrastructure or customised applications. It is this shift to large enterprise server storage perspective that is emerging as the next big business opportunity for IT companies. Says Fitze, “Tier 1 storage is a growth area, with governments and public sector companies worldwide shifting to such processes. In India, the manufacturing, financial and services sectors will be big drivers. Tier 1 storage in these demanding environment and customers mission critical applications is driving greater efficiency, with industry standard components and technologies that lower upfront costs even as it allows scalability in the long term. It is about making information and data easier to manage with better tools that are more intuitive with the ability to promote growth dynamically.” Adds Som Satsangi, Director, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking, HP India, while market growth in India has been excellent since 2009, it has primarily been driven by the small and mid-market customers. “But things are beginning to change. Here, the delay has been mainly because of the cumbersome procurement process that departments and public sector companies follow.” Pointing to the process followed in the RAPDRP, Satsangi said that the government should adopt such procedures in case of technology acquisition also.
David Scott, Senior Vice President and General Manager, HP StorageWorks, outlines the global shift towards converged infrastructure and how HP is looking at a major share of the emerging market.
The public sector globally has taken very well to converged infrastructure, in particular, informative cloud technology. If you take a broader view, the US Federal Government has been a very strong adopter of IT as service business model, particularly in public cloud computing. The top government websites in the US, like usa.gov, whitehouse.gov, etc., run on public hosting providers or public cloud providers. All of them run on HPs 3PAR utility storage platform. It is clearly an area of e-governance for which we are seeing a very strong adoption curve in the US and in Europe, and we expect to see the same kind of opportunities in Asia, specifically in India where one has the opportunity to leverage digital information to extend it into what is becoming a fast growing economy.
HP’s converged infrastructure strategy got a more robust shape with its acquisition of 3PAR. It allowed HP to accelerate its converged infrastructure, which is about taking service, networking and storage and changing the way you design, build and implement an application centric silo infrastructure. HP feels that the addition of 3PAR will dramatically strengthen its converged infrastructure strategy in the face of storage and makes for some very interesting acquisitions in networking.
Yet another reason for acquisition of 3PAR was that currently the IT world is in the middle of two tectonic shifts. One is the shift in the IT architecture- the move from the distributive computing architecture. This computing architecture, which led to it hold in the IT industry, had a very poor utilisation rate, since you had storage dedicated to individual applications. The idea of distributive computing arose in the late 1990s when people felt the need for some kind of shared infrastructure with flexible workload consolidation leading to the idea of doing more with less, using virtualisation and automation. This shift to distributive computing was very important because what it did was to enable the second major tectonic shift which is in IT delivery model rather than IT infrastructure. Here, there was a move from the traditional enterprise IT delivery and data centres to delivering enterprise IT as a service, either in the form of public cloud, private cloud or hybrid computing models that leveraged both approaches. If you look at the 3PAR’s platform, 7 out of the 10 top global hosting service providers delivering enterprise IT utility service use its services. So these two tectonic shifts opened up a massive opportunity for market share shift within the overall target market and that’s what HP wanted to take advantage of with its acquisition of 3PAR.
The third reason why HP acquired 3PAR was that HP was very strongly committed to developing the most robust storage portfolio in the industry. We had already started to make those moves with the acquisition of a company called Left Hand Networks. We followed that up with the acquisition of a company called I-Bricks to scale out network and storage, and unveil what is known as our X9000 platform. So HP had already been making strides to build a very strong storage portfolio and the acquisition of 3PAR, providing a SAN-storage platform optimised with this next generation of IT as a service for public and private cloud computing, rounded out what has now become the strongest set of intellectual property and robustness in terms of overall storage portfolio in the industry.
Says Fitze, “the Indian market is an interesting story. Because of the global economic environment since 2009, we expected customers to cut down on the Tier 1 storage or be conservative about making a large capital investment. But, it is the opposite that is happening in emerging markets like India where customers are actually buying into Tier 1 storage and consolidating the mid-range environment and IT spending to increase efficiency. We’ve seen a really high growth of Tier 1 storage in Indian markets and it has led to improved sales of HP’s XP and P9500 range of products.”
StorageWorks Division, HP India
“At HP, we are in a great position to offer everything end to end. So our partnering strategy has been more with service integrators in areas where we do not have customized solutions. What it offers us is that we can combine some of the integration services with our programmes and be in a better situation to offer a complete solution"
The HP converged infrastructure systems are particularly suited to hierarchical government structures, like those in India, where you have the central and state governments at different levels. Says Scott, “HP was successfully able to overcome the problem of ensuring different levels of access and security for a department like the Census Bureau in the US. The Bureau acts as an internal service provider, providing core information to many other government departments and also to external entities like universities where a lot of data is being shared. It was also to meet security concerns that are paramount for an organization like the US Department of Justice. The HP solutions are an extremely good fit wherever network communications is important. “
Confirms Fitze, the Federal Government in the US has been a very strong adopter of IT as a service business model, particularly in public cloud computing. Thus, sites like usa.gov and whitehouse.gov, run on public clouds. All of them use HP’s utility storage platform. “It is clearly an area of e-governance that is picking up in America and in Europe, and we expect to see the same kind of opportunities in Asia, particularly in India where you have the opportunity to leverage digital information to extend it into what is becoming a fast growing economy and a fast growing market.”
Conceding that current changes in India were largely related to service-end applications, an area where HP is yet to make its mark, Satsangi said that HP was seeking to build strong linkages with existing system integrators, like Wipro and TCS. Says Prakash Krishnamoorthy, Country Manager, StorageWorks Division, HP India “At HP, we are in a great position to offer everything end to end. So our partnering strategy has been more with service integrators in areas where we do not have customized solutions. What it offers us is that we can combine some of the integration services with our programmes and be in a better situation to offer a complete solution. This is the strategy that HP is following in India.”
More importantly, since solutions from HP allow seamless integration of different platforms and services unlike its competitors, the company is better placed in delivering IT as a service using these next generation applications in a flexible infrastructure. As Fitze points out, “Consolidation is taking place in the industry. And companies have a lot of inherited legacy technologies, which still have to be managed. This is where HP has standard interfaces that ensure continued reliability in operations.” Such interfaces also ensure that users are able to shift to a common set of infrastructure, making their investments last longer across applications. Even if it is not converged infrastructure, HP is working on ensuring standardisation of components, which can subsequently be virtualised. This, Scott says, ensures investment protection of not only the HP equipment, but also of any third party equipment.
When supporting a business model based on large-scale application service delivery, service providers need to consider costs of all technology to gain a competitive advantage in the market. Here, the HP scalable systems feature a common modular architecture that can scale from one node to thousands while delivering energy efficiency and performance. This standard platform can be highly customised and tuned to meet varying application demands, such as high-performance computing, web services, cloud computing and hosting. With mix-and-match compute, storage and graphic acceleration nodes, service providers can standardise on one system platform to host a variety of application services. By simply “plugging in” new nodes to the HP system, clients can add more applications or services as their business grows.
According to HP, enterprises are reporting substantial business payback from virtualisation in the server environment due to reduced costs resulting from consolidation, greater utilisation, and increased management efficiency. “This is because companies are able to handle more workloads with fewer servers and administrators, and require less energy without sacrificing performance or service. In addition, they report increased flexibility and responsiveness,” says Fitze. By extending virtualisation end-to-end and encompassing storage arrays, networks and servers, enterprises should be able to achieve even better results.
Today, clients want less complexity and more efficiency in their IT operations and across their network infrastructure. Here, HP can deliver a single common, modular architecture across the data centre from x86 systems to Superdome 2 systems. This means that companies can use the same architecture to run and manage multiple workloads across servers, storage and networking. This significantly reduces complexity, resource requirements and costs. Moreover, HP has leadership in key technologies such as mission-critical virtualisation, management software and blade environments. As Satsangi notes “whatever approach you take, the key success factors during the move to a converged infrastructure are service management, service catalogue development, governance, change management, support and sourcing strategies, and service billing models.”
The greatest challenge for adoption of converged systems is not technology but a change in thinking. To garner full benefit from converged systems, IT organisations will have to think differently about procurement and be satisfied with a smaller set of qualified vendors. This is counter to traditional procurement that has at least a wider list of vendors and typically multiple product options. Today, as the leading industry report - The Forrester Wave™: IT Consolidation Consultancies, Q4 2010—reveals nearly all large enterprises are engaged in some degree of IT consolidation, planning or execution. Most are reacting to resource limitations such as data centre capacity or budget, while others are proactively moving to improve efficiency along with a virtualization effort. The report says that “HP has developed strong competencies across a wide array of technologies and process areas in the field of IT consolidation, with more than 10 years of experience in most areas. HP has bulked up its professional services team through a string of acquisitions, the most significant being its purchase of EDS, a market leader in outsourcing. Its incorporation of EDS led to a stronger stable of capabilities, earning it top marks in IT process and mainframe consolidation.”
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of INCLUSION. Comments are welcome at email@example.com)
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