HP Discover 2014 has come and gone, and as my aching feet recover I thought I’d share a few notes about some of the more significant announcements made during the show. Discover is HP’s biggest customer event; with its European counterpart in Barcelona, this is the time when HP makes its biggest announcements.

The principal message many of us took away from the show was that HP absolutely is back. In the third year of Meg Whitman’s planned five year rebuilding program, it is clear that HP has addressed most of the concerns which have troubled customers, and that the company is focused on building solid products that simplify customers IT issues and deliver on the promise of new technologies like cloud and flash storage.


3Par All-flash Array

Product wise, a significant announcement came in the storage realm. The 3Par all-flash array is now the first product from HP to offer inline deduplication on primary storage. This 4-10x (typical) deduplication is coupled with a new, higher capacity drive to challenge for the first time the $2GB ‘magic number’ – the point at which flash becomes directly comparable with enterprise drive pricing, but with dramatically better performance. Coupled with a 99.9999 availability guarantee, this should make anyone interested in mid-to-large scale SAN technology sit up and take notice.

HP OneView 

HP OneView is a unified management tool which has developed from the need to address customer’s requirement for simplified, integrated tools to manage Converged Infrastructure stacks.  Building from a base of blade server deployment and management tools, it has added storage provisioning to 3Par storage arrays, and broader integration with other tools like VMware VCentre Operations Manager and Microsoft System Centre. Later this year, support for HP top-of-rack switching is committed, at which point it should be possible to manage the entire CI stack from a single tool.  This will have a big payoff for firms looking to reduce their operational costs by eliminated support silos and having a tight team able to manage and troubleshoot the complete infrastructure platform.

‘The Machine’

Another interesting discussion was at the Wednesday keynote, when Martin Fink, now the head of HP Labs, discussed an overarching project called ‘The Machine’ This is an attempt by HP Labs to address the explosive data needs that the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ will cause. Conceptually, even our largest and fastest systems designs will be challenged to address the data environments posed by the explosion of structured, unstructured and object data that the billions of internet connected devices will create.  The idea of The Machine is to combine densely stacked, special purpose processors with photonic interconnects, and a single tier of memory so that all of the overhead of managing complex memory hierarchies of RAM, flash, fast disk, slow disk and everything else are eliminated. To achieve that simplification, HP feels that a new Operating System paradigm is required, and is working with a number of universities to develop an Open Source O/S from the ground up, built to manage petabytes of persistent memory and thousands of processing elements. These are sweeping changes and ambitious plans, but as Lynn Greiner said in the Globe and Mail “But if it does work, it will turn computing on its ear.”  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/gadgets-and-gear/hp-building-the-photonic-computer-of-the-future-the-machine/article19202204/

Clearly, The Machine won’t have an impact on closing the books or finding that lost email message anytime soon. But as an indicator of the kinds of basic R&D investment in which very few companies can engage, it is a powerful testament to MS. Whitman’s Five Year Plan, to HP’s renewed focus, and to the Bill and Dave’s original tagline – Invent.

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