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HP gearing up for massive data center consolidation

HP is planning a consolidation that will reduce 85 data centers to six, a project it says will save the company $1B in utilities, headcount and real estate costs.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) recently announced plans for a consolidation of 85 of their international data centers to six -- two each in Atlanta, Austin, Texas and Houston, saving $1 billion annually.

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The move -- a phased approach over three to four years -- will allow for more efficient and better information circulation within the company, with large overall savings caused by the ripple effect of cuts to utilities, hardware, headcount and real estate costs, according to HP spokesperson Michael Moeller.

Regarding job cuts, Moeller said there would be no increase to the number HP announced in November -- 15,300.

Each site -- three of which will exist as disaster recovery facilities -- will encompass 50,000 square feet of data center each. That's down from 500,000 collective square feet at dozens of locations, including facilities in the Asia Pacific, European and Middle Eastern regions.

The sites were chosen based on available telecommunications bandwidth and availability, utility cost, low risk to natural disaster and public incentives, according to Moeller.

With ground already broken at a few locations, HP said it will aim to cut utility costs by about 25% via implementing "smart" cooling technology to help maximize airflow.

Aside from saving on cost, the project's dual purpose is as a platform to trumpet HP's infrastructure products and services. HP designed the six facilities to be "lights out" -- capable of remotely managing Integrity servers and HP BladeSystems via OpenView management software.

"This move is going to show what is possible when you jump in with both feet," Moeller said. "With these next-generation data centers, when we're done with this project, we'll be able to stand up and showcase this to people, so they can say 'So this is how you do it, this is how you can save a billion dollars in hardware costs with HP servers and blades, and really effectively bring down operational costs.' "

Clay Ryder, president of Union City, Calif.-based Sageza, said the move, a substantial one, could very well become an example of how other businesses should go about consolidating in the future. But for all the potential positives, there exists an equal portion of negatives. He cited that for three years HP experienced a revenue drop because it did an internal system restructuring and it bogged down its sales systems.

"If they do this and pull it off, it'll be a great discussion point. They'll be able to say 'Look what we did.' But if it fails, the PR [public relations] fallout -- they're not going to be able to gloss over it," Ryder said.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Joe Spurr, News Writer

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