HP user group to focus on data center consolidation

Last year the HP Technology Forum, put on by HP and user group Encompass, was relocated at the last minute due to Hurricane Katrina. Attendees this year can expect less turmoil and a focus on HP's data center consolidation project.

Data center topics are going to be front and center at this year's Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) Technology Forum, according to Kristi Browder, president of the HP user group Encompass. Power and cooling, virtualization and data center consolidation topics are on the docket for the conference planned for Sept. 17-21, in Houston.

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Encompass teamed up with HP last year to put on the event, which was scheduled for the end of Sept. 2005 in New Orleans. But due to Hurricane Katrina, the event was postponed and relocated. Now, Browder is on a mission to reach out to users who've been lost in the shuffle and bring them back into the fold.

According to Browder, the conference will address a lot of the concerns in the IT industry on a whole, like planning for blade environments, keeping costs down and security planning. In addition, the conference is hosting HP's top executives, including CEO Mark Hurd, Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Technology Solutions Group and chief information officer Randy Mott.

With the HP brass in attendance, Browder expects HP's massive data center consolidation project to be a hot issue that many people will be interested in.

"With Randy Mott being there, I'm sure the topic is going to come up quite a bit. He plays a big role in bringing HP's infrastructure down to the 'six pack,' " Browder said. "From a customer perspective, we're going to be asking how you do it, how you get around the political hurdles. I think it will be a big focus because HP has had so much info in the press. I'm interested in looking at it from my own personal professional standpoint."

Historically, Encompass has focused on IT administrators and architects, but data centers have always been of interest to HP users, according to Browder. The difference now, Browder said, is that the data center issues are coming to the forefront of IT concerns.

Another aspect that marks this year's conference is increased participation from other branches of HP users, including HP storage specialists and the International Tandem user group, which focuses on HP's NonStop fault tolerant server line.

Storage is going to be a big component of this year's event. In 2007 there will likely be a bigger partnership between HP storage event and the HP Technology forum.

"The biggest issues in storage are around archiving and retrieval. Data is getting bigger and it's not an easy thing to go back and find things," Browder said. "There is a federal ruling up for adoption on Dec. 1 -- the proposed rule is that companies have to be able to prove they can facilitate data retrieval. Looking at that, the costs associated with the data recovery are going to be astronomical."

Encompass is currently the largest and most active HP user group and has its roots in the Compaq side of HP's business. It is the single remaining general HP user group since Interex, a 31 year-old organization of 100,000 members, closed up shop in July 2005.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, Site Editor

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