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HP pushes data center building, consolidation services

The IT company wants to wedge itself into the data center facilities market with new services to help users build and consolidate data centers, as well as an application hosting service.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has announced several services to help users build new data centers, consolidate old ones and host mission-critical applications on HP's own infrastructure.

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While many of these services aren't new, they're now packaged to lend uniformity to service offerings and to simplify the process of purchasing HP data center services for customers. The company's acquisition of EYP Mission Critical Facilities Inc. (EYP MCF) and HP's own data center consolidation are helping to inform consulting engagements as well.

"It's a positive step in terms of making [HP] more efficient in the way they engage with higher-end clients," said Mary Turner, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "Typically with HP in the past, it was which piece of the elephant are you touching? Now at least there's a framework for folks to hear about all the pieces that apply to their situation."

The new data center services include the following:

  • Critical Facilities services, a joint venture with EYP MCF to help users build data centers that minimize cost with energy-efficient power-and cooling features.
  • Data Center Consolidation services to help reduce a company's number of data center facilities.
  • Adaptive Infrastructure as a Service (AIaaS), which provides users access to HP-owned data centers to host mission-critical applications.

HP does data center consolidation
As part of the data center consolidation services, the director of HP Data Center Transformation Services, Barry O'Connell, said that the company created a "data center transformation playbook" that has captured some lessons learned during HP's own consolidation project, which has slashed HP's data centers from 85 to six. The project confronted various speed bumps, particularly as HP recognized that its employees relied on 6,000 different applications, almost twice as many as initially thought.

But the experience was an opportunity for self-education for HP. The company learned, for example, to ensure that you build a "service-oriented view of what the data center should do," so that a facility meets business needs and not just technology ones," said O'Connell. Another is to think ahead of time about standardizing on certain platforms to avoid the practice of adding applications without considering how they're managed and run.

As far as AIaaS is concerned, O'Connell said that HP has two data centers in the U.S. and one in Europe that are ready to host mission-critical applications for users.

But ESG's Turner said that while she was "intrigued" by the idea of HP hosting applications, the "jury is still out" on the prospect. During the early 1990s, Turner explained, the hype surrounded application service providers, or ASPs, who offered the same kind of product that on-demand software or Software as a Service (SaaS) companies offer today. But even though the idea has started to gain steam, companies remain hesitant to host mission-critical applications at a remote site with a different company.

"What I can't figure out about AIaaS is whether it is really just outsourcing by another name or is it a fundamental switch to a more shared services environment. I just don't think [HP has] said enough about it."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Server Specs blog.

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