Earlier this week I was the guest of HP at their Houston, Texas campus for two days. Monday I attended the HP Tech Day sessions with representatives from other sites around the world. We split up into smaller groups and took turns meeting with different groups at HP. We attended a G6 teardown where we got an in depth look at the components that comprise HP's latest G6 offerings. We had hands on access to everything from blade components to standard rack mount chassis, and components from the latest motherboards and Intel Nehalem processors, to SSD drives, RAM, and power supplies.
Next we visited the testing labs. the first thing we were told here was no cameras, so I'm sorry, there are no photos or videos of this section. These labs are responsible for testing new products before manufacturing is given the thumbs up to proceed. Their goal, as they put it, "is to take the product developers baby, and call it ugly", meaning that they take the new product from the developer, who swears it's perfect, and try to find every bug, flaw, or imperfection that they can. While in the labs we heard from folks who were responsible for testing servers, blades, storage, networking, and low level architecture such as BIOS, various interfaces and buses. The amount of experience in that lab was incredible. There were a lot of younger people working in there but there were several guys who have been with HP as long or longer than I've been alive. It was like being in the presence of geek royalty.
The next stop on our Tech Day agenda was the Blades group. As in the G6 tear down, we got a hands on view of HP's blades and chassis. This time, however, we got some very physical comparisons of some of HP's competitors products. The HP Blades group gave us side by side examples of physical differences between their blades and chassis, and those from Dell and IBM. You may say "big whoop, their chassis and blade designs are different" but when you see first hand examples of the differences in how blades are supported, the location of the locking pins, the power distribution, and so on, it's obvious to see how decades of developing servers has paid off for HP.
After lunch, we were off to discuss HP's management software and power efficiency. The discussions centered around HP's Insight software, from management to diagnostics. We also discussed the importance of developments in improved power utilization and efficiency and overall power consumption reduction, and the importance of these developments when considering the total cost of ownership during the planning and design of an infrastructure.
Wrapping up Tech Day, we were given a guided tour through HP's Factory Express facility. Factory Express is HP's answer to rapid deployment of customized solutions, configured, tested, and ready to be put into service on delivery. Whether it's a single server, a blade chassis, a fully loaded rack, or even a data center pod, HP can configure and ship an entire solution from this facility. Pay attention to the end of this tour. The pod the you'll see has 8.5 petabytes in its current configuration. The current maximum capacity that HP can fit in one of these pods? 18.5 petabytes. Wow!
After the Factory Express tour we returned to our hotel to drop our gear and freshen up for dinner. We once again met up with many of the HP folks that we had met throughout the day and the wonderful folks from Buzz Corps at BRIX Wine Cellars in Houston. We were treated to several wonderful wines and hors d'oeuvres while getting a chance to discuss the days events and getting to interact on a more personal level. We were then seated and served an absolutely fantastic dinner by the wait staff. If you're ever in Houston and want an absolutely fantastic dining experience, with a wine selection that's to die for, I highly recommend you give BRIX Wine Cellars a try. After dinner it was back to the hotel for another casual conversation session in the hotel lobby for a couple of hours before heading off to bed in order to rest up for the web jam.
On day two in Houston we traveled back to the HP campus to participate in the HP ProLiant G6 web jam. The web jam was a virtual event, open to anyone who wanted to register. The web jam consisted of eight sessions.
Session 1: Transforming Server Economics - Introducing the next generation from HP, the HP ProLiant G6
Description: We have packaged up the industry's best ideas, innovations and components and put them into the new ProLiant G6. Learn how the HP ProLiant G6 servers can give you the competitive advantage you need to manage your business.
Session 2: Intel® Xeon® 5500: HP has taken Intel technology to a whole new level
Description: Check out the HP offerings that will help you get better performance, efficiency and control out of Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 series technology
Session 3: Check out what's under the hood: An HP ProLiant G6 server deep dive.
Description: Learn about the torture tests we put the ProLiant G6 through before it leaves HP and lands on your doorstop.
Session 4: Meet the Blades SWAT team.
Description: Take an in-depth look at HP's blade system with the Blade SWAT team in their engineering lab.
Session 5: Simplified server setup.
Description: See how easy HP makes it to dramatically simplify server set-up.
Session 6: Get "Greener IT" from HP - Use your power wisely and dramatically reduce wasted energy.
Description: Learn about HP's exclusive energy management tools that will help you spend less on power and give you more for your business.
Session 7: Factory Express
Description: See a quick view of where it all comes together: HP's customized and integrated factory solution tour.
Session 8: Squeeze every bit of productivity out of your server with ProLiant G6.
Description: This new generation of servers comes with a unique set of embedded technologies and flexible tools to ensure that you maximize overall utilization of your server infrastructure.
During the sessions, videos were shown that had been recorded by HP during the various sessions the previous day. The videos and chat logs will be viewable at the HP ProLiant web jam site for 30 days.
HP's ProLiant G6 servers seem to raise the bar for server standards. With their improvements in efficiency, and reduction in power consumption, while maintaining performance increases and utilizing the latest industry components, they've clearly proven that you don't have to sacrifice performance to provide economical and environmentally conscientious and responsible server technology. With eleven different Intel Xeon 5500 (Nehalem) G6 models to pick and choose from, there's a good chance that there's a configuration to fit just about any solution. Good job HP!
The HP Tech Day & Web Jam events were very informative, and the HP staff provided us with a great hands on experience and were very accommodating of our questions and were willing to answer anything that we threw at them. The events were very well planned and scheduled and I appreciate all of the effort on their part to bring us all together to discuss their products and solutions. Thumbs up to HP and Buzz Corps for another great event.
You can find more photos from the HP Tech Day event here.