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HP rolls up virty desktop system bundles for SMBs

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HP has refreshed its server lineup with the myriad Xeon E5 processors in its ProLiant Gen8 machines, so small and medium businesses now have lots of options from which to choose. But these days, SMBs are not just interested in buying raw iron. Sometimes they want to plunk in a new stack, appliance style, that solves a specific problem – and HP is now bundling some new help for them.

Citing IDC data, Lisa Wolfe, worldwide leader for SMB in HP's Enterprise Business group, says that SMBs spent $507bn across hardware, software, and services in 2011, accounting for 42 per cent of total IT spending – and sales in 2012 to SMBs will outpace overall IT growth, rising 6.9 per cent to $542bn if everything goes according to plan. (El Reg has its doubts, but hope springs eternal.) The good growth in the SMB sector is one reason that in the past year HP has added 6,700 partners with an SMB focus to its reseller channel, which has in excess of 200,000 partners worldwide.

Europe is jam-packed with SMBs, of course, and as part of an SMB push coming out of Prague, Czech Republic, HP is launching a set of bundles aimed at these customers. The bundles specifically target one problem that SMBs, like larger enterprises, are wrestling with: the rise of the mobile workforce and the proliferation of non-PC devices that people want to use to access company apps.

And as you might expect, HP thinks the answer to this problem is to do virtual desktop infrastructure, storing PC images back in the data closet and letting end users access those images from whatever device they see fit, whether it is a PC in the office, a laptop on the road, or a fondleslab on their couch.

To help partners peddle the servers, storage, and switching gear that makes VDI possible, HP has cooked up reference architectures to let customers easily pick VDI software stacks and configurations suitable for their needs. Wolfe says that these reference architectures were created from scratch and "not just taken off the enterprise truck and cut down".

HP doesn't play favorites, so there is one reference architecture for VMware View and ThinApp, one for Citrix Systems XenDesktop, and one for Microsoft Windows Server RemoteFX and App-V. The VMware and Citrix plans are ready now, and the Microsoft plans will ship in September.

On the VMware side, HP has configured a setup suitable for 200 users that has a ProLiant DL380p Gen8 server with two Xeon E5-2580 processors, 256GB of main memory, four 300GB SAS drives (10K RPM), a Smart Array P402i with 2GB of write cache, 365GB Fusion-io flash drive, 10GE network adapter, and HP's Virtual SAN Appliance software to span those disks and feed those VDI images from View.

For the Citrix VDI stack, HP has two configurations: one aimed at 50 users and one for 100 users. The 50-user setup has the same ProLiant DL380p with one E5-2680 processor, but with 96GB of memory, eight disks, and no virtual SAN software. The 100-user configuration adds a second CPU and doubles the main memory to 192GB.

HP did not provide specific pricing for these bundles, but says that the configurations are set up to give the back-end VDI engine to customers for around $400 per seat, including software licenses.

Because SMB shops may not be familiar with VDI technology, HP is peddling services to walk them through the options, and channel partners can sell these services, which are in turn actually delivered by HP Technical Services. They include a client virtualization analysis and modeling service, which looks at what SMBs are currently doing and figures out how to virtualize their apps and move to mobile devices. The transformation experience workshop for mobility just focuses on issues relating to mobile device access to apps, and on ensuring that apps and data are secured before companies give employees access to the network through mobile devices.

HP is also previewing the 1910 8G switch series, which will ship by the end of the month and which offers eight ports and Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) options to link thin clients to VDI back-end servers and to light them up as well. The company is also adding new modules to its MSR line of multi-service routers, which can now offer wires and wireless access to the corporate offices for branch offices. ®

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