I D C T E C H N O L O G Y S P O T L I G H T. I m p r o ve I T E f ficiency, S t o p S e r ve r S p r aw l

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1 I D C T E C H N O L O G Y S P O T L I G H T Optimizing Blade Ser ve r s f o r V irtualization: I m p r o ve I T E f ficiency, S t o p S e r ve r S p r aw l August 2011 Adapted from IDC Blade Market Survey: The Dynamic Platform for the Future Datacenter by Jed Scaramella and Matthew Eastwood, IDC # Sponsored by HP As enterprises seek greater efficiencies from IT, they are looking to consolidate using technologies such as virtualization and blade servers. But today's more complex IT infrastructures must provide more than raw computing power and connectivity; they must be efficient, cost less, and consume less energy. This Technology Spotlight discusses the changing nature of IT and how blade server technology combined with virtualization is becoming the foundation of the distributed IT environment. This document also looks at HP BladeSystem technology. Finally, this Technology Spotlight offers some recommendations for enterprises that are looking to implement blade technology. Introduction As the economy continues its gradual turnaround, enterprises are looking for every opportunity to be more efficient and better serve their customers and other stakeholders. One area that is constantly being evaluated is IT and how it can drive additional value to the business. This is a critical component of corporate efficiency as many enterprises report that IT management and administration costs have grown larger than all other cost categories. Despite this fact, even with tight budgets, IT must deliver on increasingly tough service-level agreements (SLAs), maintain high levels of application availability, and build new applications to meet the changing needs of today's markets. Over the past decade, IDC has seen business units, previously unable to secure space on larger enterprise computing systems, use x86 servers to set up smaller IT applications. This drove expansion of more x86-based IT capabilities and innovation based on lower-priced platforms, allowing IT to expand capacity while better controlling capital expenditures. This increased dependence on x86 servers ultimately changed the fundamental IT strategy from "scale up" to "scale out." However, this migration to a distributed environment creates a more complex infrastructure that results in higher operational costs. While enterprises benefit from the lower capital costs and the ability to "pay as you grow," there also have been unfortunate consequences. The number of systems installed in an enterprise has exploded, resulting in "server sprawl" in which operational costs have risen because each of these disparate systems requires additional management. Additionally, the nature of today's racked, stacked, and wired IT infrastructure has created a complex and inflexible environment that presents obstacles in the deployment and management of critical new application services. IDC research shows that datacenter operational expenses now are larger than capital expenditure for IT equipment. The personnel costs associated with managing and maintaining server systems as well as operational costs related to power and cooling and underutilized resources have significantly taxed datacenter budgets. Beyond capital and personnel costs, the energy expense necessary to operate a datacenter has risen sharply in recent years to the point that many datacenter managers consider power and cooling their number one challenge. Energy is now a limiting factor for financial budgets and the expansion of IT capacity within existing datacenter facilities, especially in distributed environments. IDC 1174

2 Change management also has become a big challenge for enterprise IT. As the pace of business accelerates, customer requirements and market competition demand flexibility and adaptability from IT. As business priorities change, IT resources must be used in multiple ways and be highly scalable. While virtualization is making it possible to increase the utilization of server hardware, systems administrators are finding new challenges in managing the vast number of virtual machines and their connections. Indeed, managing complexity is a challenge even without virtualization. There also is a significant burden on staff time due to the multitude of manual processes as well as the different server configurations that are necessary to handle the many different applications a business runs. Also, as companies deployed these environments, it was common practice to overbuild the infrastructure to ensure sufficient capacity was available to meet peak demand. Rising to the Challenge with Blade Servers To respond to these challenges, IT managers are building infrastructure on platforms that can deliver operational efficiencies and maintain the flexibility to adapt to future changes in business demands. The ideal IT environment is one that is flexible and agile while still being cost effective. Organizations are exploring internal cloud computing and transforming their IT infrastructure by breaking down technology silos to create shared resource pools that can be dynamically provisioned. Bladed infrastructures enable organizations to tightly control and manage business-sensitive applications and data sets, lessening concerns about security and data privacy issues. In particular, IDC sees increased use of blade servers optimized for virtualization as a key technology for these organizations. The blade server market represented one of the few bright spots during the recession, and IDC predicts that sales in the blade server segment will grow faster than sales in any other IT market segment, showing a CAGR of almost 22% in terms of units shipped. IDC research shows that blade servers can dramatically address many of the challenges facing IT organizations today. First, blade platforms can save staff time and compute resources. Because multiple servers share a single chassis, they can be managed centrally, resulting in more efficient methods of provisioning, monitoring, and managing resources. From a staffing standpoint, the wireonce, change-ready nature of blades has reduced system setup and configuration time in some enterprises by over 46%. These efficiencies enable organizations to reassign staff to other activities more directly related to business applications. Second, a blade server based infrastructure gives enterprises the ability to consolidate physical servers while maintaining the same workload capacity and performance, ultimately further reducing capital expenditure on hardware. Resource utilization rates are further enhanced by virtualization. IDC has seen organizations add an additional cost savings of 17% when combining virtualization with blades. Also, as a larger number of virtual machines are deployed per physical blade, IT can save licensing fees and the cost of IT tools. From an operational perspective, blades reduce power and cooling consumption, creating significant efficiencies in large enterprises. From an overall IT expenditure perspective, IDC has seen facilities savings of almost 57%, hardware savings of nearly 50%, and power and cooling cost reductions of more than 37%. Another advantage of a blade-based infrastructure is enhanced connectivity. Expansion of hardware infrastructure, for example, is made easier because more blades can be added to a chassis, which is already incorporated into the corporate network. As a result, expansion of server and storage capabilities does not necessarily require more switches and cabling IDC

3 Blade Server Challenges While virtualization and blade servers have helped reduce operating costs, improve capacity scaling, and simplify server management, they have introduced new challenges. First are the potential bottlenecks and memory constraints caused by increased virtual machine density. To solve the memory problem, server vendors are developing systems that keep memory capacity in line with advancements in processors. But as more virtual machines are deployed per server, more connections to that server are required, creating I/O bottlenecks. Similarly, shifting toward distributed environments potentially creates more locations that consume power and need to be cooled. Higher virtual machine densities, which require more memory, network interface cards (NICs), and core switch ports, will increase overall energy demands. Virtualization in a distributed environment can potentially increase the time needed to manage and administer the corporate network, as administrators must set up and manage a vast number of virtual machine network connections. While blade server platforms solve many of these issues by providing a unified management approach to the servers housed within the chassis, the interconnected layer between the blade server and the network can present a challenge. This significant increase in the number of individual systems within an organization's IT environment also makes change difficult. Considering the HP BladeSystem The HP BladeSystem family offers products and services optimized for virtual IT environments for both midmarket companies and larger enterprises. HP's integrated approach to blade computing delivers efficiencies in system management, monitoring, and provisioning. The company's flagship blade products, the HP BladeSystem c-class, can incorporate ProLiant and Integrity server blades. The HP ProLiant BL465c G7 server blade and the BL685c G7 server blade now feature the new 16-core AMD Opteron 6200 series processor. They offer more cores and a large memory footprint, which allows for more virtual machines. Faster memory provides higher throughput, reducing I/O bottlenecks. Systems Management HP BladeSystem utilizes HP Insight Management software to automate key management processes, including a system's physical deployment, configuration, and problem management. HP Insight Management is a suite of management tools designed to enable simple and reliable provisioning, monitoring, and control of the HP BladeSystem infrastructure. Elements of HP Insight Software include HP Systems Insight Manager, which provides a single, integrated view of all infrastructure resources and delivers core management services for discovery, monitoring, and control. HP Insight Control software provides comprehensive server health monitoring, imaging, power management, remote management, and vulnerability management, as well as a 200:1 device-to-administrator ratio. Power Management HP BladeSystem incorporates HP Thermal Logic technology to improve power and cooling efficiencies. This enables organizations to pool and share power and cooling resources and then utilizes management to efficiently deliver those resources based on the performance level required. In addition, the HP BladeSystem chassis utilizes Platinum Power supplies for increased energy efficiency and the HP Dynamic Power Saver mode enables more efficient use of power in the server blade enclosure. For example, during periods of low server utilization, the HP Dynamic Power Saver places power supplies in standby mode, incrementally activating them to deliver the required power 2011 IDC 3

4 as demand increases. HP Power Regulator dynamically changes each server's power consumption to match the needed processing horsepower, thus reducing power consumption automatically during periods of low utilization without affecting performance. Consolidated Networking HP BladeSystem technology also includes HP Virtual Connect technology, which solves networking complexity and I/O challenges by enabling customers to wire just once. HP Virtual Connect enables the system administrator to make server changes and adds in minutes, to help ensure that SLAs are met, and frees up network and storage administrators to handle other important tasks. As servers are consolidated through virtualization of workloads, the complexity of the server edge has increased. HP Virtual Connect simplifies server-edge sprawl by up to 95%. HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology enables up to four FlexNIC connections per physical NIC port, reducing equipment costs by up to 65% and power and cooling costs by up to 40%. The HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric module consolidates Ethernet and storage into a single network, increasing flexibility to move resources within an infrastructure and reducing costs associated with network, server, and storage administration. Cloud Ready HP CloudSystem Matrix platform is designed for private cloud and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Built on HP BladeSystem architecture, the platform delivers a converged infrastructure by integrating server, storage, networking, and power management into a single solution that can be managed as a unified environment. HP CloudSystem Matrix allows customers to deliver IT services in minutes by automating the provisioning of infrastructure and applications across both physical servers and virtual servers. Built-in infrastructure life-cycle management reduces TCO by up to 56%, while HP CloudSystem Matrix's open approach supports integrated, heterogeneous environments and provides a unified end-to-end experience. Challenges But HP does face market challenges. First and foremost, as the market leader, the company is a target for every other vendor offering blade technology. As a result, HP must continue to invest in blade technology advances. In addition, the company needs to continuously market its advances and continue to win the comparison game. Similarly, HP must continue to work with its partners and customers to anticipate the rapid changes in IT needs. HP must stress its leadership in providing cost-effective solutions that meet the challenges associated with blade and virtual computing. Conclusion Businesses are increasingly leveraging IT as a tool for driving new product and business models. Organizations in many industries are generating incremental revenue and competitive advantage through tight integration between datacenter and day-to-day business operations. IDC is seeing an increasingly large number of enterprises making blade systems a central part of strategic IT initiatives within their datacenters. Blades are the foundation servers for the converged systems that will become the building blocks of private clouds of consolidated and virtualized resources. As a result, IDC sees companies moving away from disparate IT silos toward virtual resource pools. However, enhanced management and IDC

5 I/O capabilities are required to connect and manage the additional virtual machines running on these servers. To optimize their infrastructures, enterprises should look for blade technology that is optimized for virtualization. Blade and chassis systems should be tailored for hosting multiple virtual machines, as well as provide management tools that can simplify and automate tasks for large numbers of virtualized machines. Importantly, as companies shift their infrastructure to a more distributed, virtual environment, they will need new thinking and processes, equipment, and management. For example, traditionally, servers, storage, networks, and even power have been thought of as separate entities, even though they function together. This can cause the provisioning and management of IT to be slow and inefficient. IDC recommends that organizations make sure they have policies in place to deal with the requisition of virtual servers; otherwise, server sprawl can undermine the intended benefits. Similarly, many organizations still separate virtual and physical environments into two distinct architectures. The virtual environment includes a group of richly configured physical servers that are deployed only to host virtual servers. The physical environment comprises a group of servers with multiple configurations that have only one application per physical server deployed. Having two silos adds complexity to the datacenter and highlights the importance of management tools that can manage both environments through a single console. While much of the focus of using virtualization and blade technology is on lowering immediate costs and achieving a quick ROI or payback, IT managers must also focus on tools that collect and analyze data to enable the continuous optimization of IT resources. This includes gathering insights into network bandwidth, power usage, and storage capacity in addition to traditional compute and memory utilization to gain a better understanding of the infrastructure and improve utilization of resources. As IT managers look to meet the needs of a distributed, fast-paced business, they need to look to blade servers to increase hardware utilization and simplify management while increasing flexibility and improving server energy efficiency. To the extent that HP continues to meet its challenges, the HP BladeSystem family provides the company with a significant opportunity in this still growing market. A B O U T T H I S P U B L I C A T I ON This publication was produced by IDC Go-to-Market Services. The opinion, analysis, and research results presented herein are drawn from more detailed research and analysis independently conducted and published by IDC, unless specific vendor sponsorship is noted. IDC Go-to-Market Services makes IDC content available in a wide range of formats for distribution by various companies. A license to distribute IDC content does not imply endorsement of or opinion about the licensee. C O P Y R I G H T A N D R E S T R I C T I O N S Any IDC information or reference to IDC that is to be used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written approval from IDC. For permission requests, contact the GMS information line at or Translation and/or localization of this document requires an additional license from IDC. For more information on IDC, visit For more information on IDC GMS, visit Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA USA P F IDC 5

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