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HP spreads Virtual Connect to 1,600 servers

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Managing the ties between virtual servers and storage systems strikes most admins as a real pain. So, customers should welcome the arrival of an addition to HP's Virtual Connect technology that allows them to set up flexible relationships between a large number of virtual servers and physical storage boxes.

Since February, HP has offered Virtual Connect as part of its c-Class blade server package. The technology proves unique among the Tier 1 vendors in that it handles the mapping of storage area network connections to blade systems.

Up until this point, however, Virtual Connect has only applied to a single chassis. A customer could move virtual servers around the various physical blades in the chassis, and the virtual machines would stay connected to the right back-end storage volumes. (In short, Virtual Connect ties Ethernet Media Access Control (MAC) addresses and Fibre Channel Worldwide Names (WWNs) to server bays.)

As we mentioned months ago, HP hoped to extend Virtual Connect to multiple chassis once it polished off a firmware upgrade. Well, that firmware upgrade has arrived along with the Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager package.

Now customers can perform the same mapping functions across up to 100 c-Class systems - or 1,600 blade servers.

HP's management software lets you divvy up these 1,600 systems into different groups, making it possible for one admin, for example to control, say, 400 systems and another to handle 200 systems.

As you might expect, HP claims that Virtual Connect "frees" admins from their usual departmental ties. The server, storage and networking admins have an initial chat about configuring the blade systems and back-end gear, and then server admins are in control from there on out, shuffling virtual servers around as they see fit. How well this plays out in reality remains to be seen.

The c-Class system has pushed HP into a clear leadership position in the blade server market and Virtual Connect should only help maintain this momentum. The technology proves pretty unique among the big boys. Meanwhile, start-ups such as NextIO are working on similar technology that could bring these virtual wares to the mass market.

Along with the Virtual Connect boost, HP highlighted three additions to its mainstream server line.

As the vendor tells it, you'll find these tweaks:

  • HP Server Migration Pack Universal Edition now combines virtual and physical migrations into a single tool to speed migration time of HP ProLiant and BladeSystem servers. A new “queued migration feature” helps to automate, plan and execute multiple migrations at once, with expected support to include Citrix XenServer, Microsoft virtual machines, Oracle VM and VMware.
  • HP Virtual Machine Management Pack 3.0, another key offering within the Insight Control management portfolio, provides central management of Citrix XenServer, Microsoft virtual machines, Oracle VM and VMware. It helps reduce downtime interruptions with a new predictive failure alert capacity that can relocate virtual machines before hardware failures occur.
  • HP PolyServe Software for Microsoft SQL Server consolidates large SQL environments onto a single cluster so customers can manage all instances at once, freely add and recover multiple instances, and roll out business applications more quickly while improving reliability.

No server announcement would be complete these days with some power management angle as well.

Always obliging to bandwagons, HP has rolled out a Power Distribution Rack system that cuts down on cabling while also giving admins a central place for adjusting their power load. This hulking system makes it possible to get rid of the current, fat power cables that go from a server rack to a power source. Instead, you use a short power strip to link racks to racks and then to the PDR. That PDR unit ends up as the only hardware with a hulking cable linking back to a power source.

The PDR can handle three-phase power distributions for a number of racks and relies on HP's Thermal Logic technology to prevent overloads.

How much does Virtual Connect cost? And what about this PDR and Polyserve stuff? Right, we thought you might ask. We lay everything out for you in this PDF. ®

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