HP Hits Restart on 'converged Systems,' Takes Aim At Vblock

The new systems share common infrastructure components so they can be managed together more easily

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Mon, December 09, 2013

IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau) — Stop me if you've heard this one before: Hewlett-Packard released new "converged systems" on Monday that aim to get customers up and running quickly with virtualized applications and big-data analytics.

If it sounds familiar, it should: HP released similar products earlier this year and in 2011, but it's mothballing those and starting again with new systems that it says are more tightly integrated, allowing customers to purchase and deploy them in 20 days.

The new systems share common infrastructure components, which means they will also be easier to manage and support, according to Tom Joyce, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Converged Systems division, a new business unit that was formed in April.

HP announced the products at its Discover conference in Barcelona, along with a third system for desktop hosting. The products combine HP servers, storage, network gear and software in systems that HP designs and assembles at the factory.

Converged systems are becoming popular: Vendors say that by integrating the parts themselves, they can provide better performance and accelerate deployment times for customers. A downside is that customers get limited options for configuration.

Two of the HP systems appear to replace earlier efforts. The ConvergedSystem for Virtualization, for running applications such as SharePoint and Exchange, has similar components to the HP VirtualSystem, which HP launched in 2011 and is now discontinuing. Similarly, the new analytics product, the ConvergedSystem 300 for Vertica, is a substitute for the HP AppSystem for Vertica, which was announced nine months ago and is also being discontinued.

Those earlier products were really "reference designs" that came with more configuration options and were not as fully integrated out of the factory, according to Joyce. Customers now want faster times to deployment, and that's what HP is providing, he said.

"We took what we learned from the HP VirtualSystem and productized it, so you can now order it in 20 minutes and have it show up in 20 days," Joyce said.

HP isn't the only company to have hit the restart button on its converged products. Dell pulled the plug on its all-in-one virtualization boxes a few years ago and replaced them with its Active Systems line.

"This whole workload-optimized system market is fairly new, and not every product will work for every vendor," said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT. Sometimes customers don't bite, and other times the systems turn out not to be a good fit for the vendor, he said.

But it's a type of product customers seem to be interested in. Oracle, IBM and VCE - the alliance of Cisco, EMC and VMware -- also sell converged systems. HP's ConvergedSystem for Virtualization is targeted at VCE in particular. "We have them in our sites, no question," Joyce said.

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