HP Moonshot And The Future Of Servers

HP’s Technology at Work day-long event is filled with interesting insights, and it’s definitely worth heading along to the Sydney event next week if you have the chance (quite aside from the potential to win an HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 if you head along). Of the various ideas presented in the opening keynote at Melbourne, the one that has kept me musing all day is HP’s Moonshot web server line.

Moonshot, which was officially launched earlier this year, is the branding being used for a new range of web server equipment designed for web hosting tasks, and promoting high performance and low power consumption. HP describes it as a “software-defined server”, and management smarts play an important role, but it also includes physical hardware for on-premises solutions, including a 45-server chassis and the Atom-powered Moonshot Proliant Server S1260.

“IT is being challenged and the expectations are being raised like never before. HP South Pacific MD David Caspari told the Melbourne audience. “Today IT needs to dramatically accelerate its speed with modernised apps and services. IT is now the critical strategic factor in determining whether your business will succeed in this market.”

The big selling point for Moonshot is improved resource utilisation; HP says that Moonshot gear takes up 80 per cent less space and uses 89 per cent less power. “The path we’re on for the data centre is not sustainable in terms of space, energy and cost,” Caspari argued.

HP’s own web presence is powered by Moonshot. Caspari said the energy requirement for that entire suite of sites was equivalent to a dozen 60 watt light globes.

There’s no arguing that reducing power consumption is a goal for data centre managers no matter what gear they deploy. What’s interesting is that the project, at least in its initial stages, is so heavily focused on web hosting and site serving. Those are important and in-demand apps, but rarely command the attention given to ‘sexier’ options such as software-as-a-service. HP’s push into that space reminds us that we have to improve the performance of existing technologies, not just concentrate on the next big thing, whatever we’re guessing that is.

Of course, not everyone wants to host those servers themselves, a factor HP recognised when it rolled out its $200 million Aurora data centre in Australia last year. Site hosting is also one of the key markets for broader cloud platform providers such as AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Competition is likely to be fierce as new habits are adopted, a point Caspari acknowledged: “The foundations for this new style of IT are still wet.”

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