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June 15, 2014

HP Discover 2014: Datacenter services

Filed under: Datacenter — Tags: , — Nate @ 12:54 pm

(Standard disclaimer HP covered my hotel and stuff while in Vegas etc etc…)

I should be out sight seeing but have been stuck in my hotel room here in Sedona, AZ due to the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had from food I ate on Friday night.

X As a service

The trend towards “as a service” as what seems to be an accounting thing more than anything else to shift dollars to another column in the books continues with HP’s Facility as a service.

HP will go so far as to buy you a data center(the actual building), fill it with equipment and rent it back to you for some set fee – with entry level systems starting at 150kW (which would be as few as say 15 x high density racks). They can even manage it end to end if you want them to. I didn’t realize myself the extent that their services go to. requires a 5 or 10 year commitment however (has to do with accounting again I believe). HP says they are getting a lot of positive feedback on this new service.

This is really targeted at those that must operate on premise due to regulations and cannot rely on a 3rd party data center provider (colo).

Flexible capacity

FAAS doesn’t cover the actual computer equipment though, that is just the building, power, cooling etc. The equipment can either come from you or you can get it from HP using their Flexible Capacity program. This program also extends to the HP public cloud as well as a resource pool for systems.

HP Flexible Capacity program

HP Flexible Capacity program

Entry level for Flexible capacity we were told was roughly a $500k contract ($100k/year).

Thought this was a good quote

“We have designed more than 65 million square feet of data center space. We are responsible for more than two-thirds of all LEED Gold and Platinum certified data centers, and we’ve put our years of practical experience to work helping many enterprises successfully implement their data center programs. Now we can do the same for you.”

Myself I had no idea that was the case, not even close.


  1. Cool, the UK not being ignored on this plan. Forgetting our carbon taxed shores would I guess be silly indeed, but too often we are late to be served. Germany also is hurting. We’re loosing real industry because of carbon taxes. I keep thinking how many startups we lose as well, given the energy density and costs.

    I know just enough about designing a datacenter to get into trouble. Energy budgets are real and very sensitive even for small projects. Especially for small projects. $100K pa or pounds is truly there for small projects. With energy prices so sensitive, any help nailing the projections is immensely valuable. I know they are not overtly saying they help you manage power costs, but that’s implicit in the work they have to put in for all the support equipment.

    I can think of even a angel investor I know who would be interested in this, heck I really see the potential. Not only regulatory concerns, but startups who are paranoid about revealing their infrastructure are a market.

    Not to mention you can finally get standard quotes on laying fiber to almost any location in the UK now. Collocation is not as attractive as it was, but building the physical is still very unappealing. Lots of paperwork for a start.

    So many projects are silly to put remote from where you are. Anything that wants a tape setup, any custom topology or varied kit, or.. well the cloud makes sense to me when you can forget about hardware, then it’s the way to go. For everything else…

    I have a caffeine induced vision of datacenter under railway arches. If you guys have garages, I think we should have promoted the railway arches that are great spaces for the reason they are not heavily zoned, you can use for light industrial or whatever, and many have no trains running above because of historic line closures. We should have claimed the railway arch as a startup symbol if only to undo the still felt pain at closing down so many railroads that kept small towns viable. A certain romance of reclaiming a part of our industrial and cultural heritage. We colonized and usually brought railways. Some have said it was the only decent thing we did…

    Hmm, the lack of planning restrictions for railway arches would mean it’s not hard to get building quickly. Also having a whopping arch of brick topped usually with soil is a big insulator. Those places are cold!

    Thanks Nate, for the report!

    Hmm, second coffee, and I’m thinking where you can find a few adjacent arches. One to site the datacenter and keep closed, the others for cheap offices. Another aspect of the arches is how cheap they are to secure, provided you buy top grade shuttering there’s no back door or windows… and you maybe next to a fiber right of way, possibly, as I know at least some networks have used railroad ways for long routes. Okay that’s for arches below active railroads, but there are more of those, and in theory you have power running right above you.

    Is there a reason no one has done this before? Maybe it’s as simple as who build datacenters simply want flashy new facilities to impress investors and customers. But the promoter in me says you could sell this idea almost romantically. Publicity a la Wired articles, or maybe better to keep it quiet and discrete. Oh, shouldn’t have posted this, then 🙂

    Comment by John ( other John ) — June 25, 2014 @ 1:30 am

  2. I haven’t heard of anyone doing this before (Facility as a service), but I don’t follow the data center space closely at all. I don’t know about UK but colo is still quite competitive here in the US, seems to be quite a lot of building going on at relatively massive scales vs datacenters of a decade ago.

    Comment by Nate — June 30, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  3. Hi Nate,

    I’ve not priced colo for a couple of years now, so I’m behind, but simple real estate and power prices make a substantial operating difference. And forget London for a long time, the grid is creaky, space long filled… I’m going to take a mini survey but London colo was filled with financial algo machines solid last I looked. A long time associate is in Bournemouth, on our south coast. Once a retirement town by reputation, that’s changed. American Express put their operations there a good while back, Connexions For London now just C4L who are a big colo outfit are down there. Proximity to undersea, local airport to Geneva … and a family house for, well, insane money, without starting to remember what space you get in the States…

    You’re right, facility as a service is beyond what HO are doing, but it’s not far from it already. Had a three hour phone call argument about pros and cons with my associate over this. Bournemouth is a very pretty town. Small scale. No flash stores. Low key wealth. My opener was about getting staff attracted who would be relocating anyhow, then adding in the “oh, stuff it, park a container in your driveway” and then a hour on zoning law! Thinking cap certainly on, though, and for a active pre planning project.

    Incidentally, was scanning reviews for a new television set. LG bought WebOS, and being unaware myself, I’m pretty interested. Review up here, not looking too shabby:

    Must dash, but really appreciate you reporting again,

    All best,


    Comment by John ( other John ) — July 8, 2014 @ 1:35 am

  4. Hi Nate,

    Please forgive my long meander OT, albeit I do [try] to close with a bit of loosely related logic.

    Important correction here as to availability of gigabit internet delivered over Ethernet in the UK. I last looked properly just before there was a back track on the roll out.

    I’m correcting particularly because whilst my life took a upset that had me convalescing a while, i was very close to making some assumptions last year on connectivity, that could have hurt me sharply. Also I have to allow the retraction of this build out by BT OpenReach I think is pretty rotten. I think they should have been allowed to build their fiber network in the nineties, when they were denied effectively because they saw rhea only way to keep growing was to offer video, and they were denied that by the government. Indeed, BT became a recalcitrant incumbent monopoly, spending a good decade frustrating anyone they could. Not always by intention, because they were dealing with hundred year old infrastructure in many places. In the nineties, some phone lines we had, I was shown, were just being replaced by copper. Replacing lead! I think it’s fair to say they were dumb not to build fiber everywhere they could. But the intersection we were on was being dug almost weekly by multiple utilities already. I think simple planning paperwork and inertia did as much damage as anything. Anyhow, I reckon not BT do television, sport… you really need them also if you’re a soccer nut, on top of Sky.. they remember that history, and have dug in their heels. Equally, their 21CN offers fast enough for most homes, they’re decommissioning the max to 8Mb/s 20CN backhaul, to some protest, and with 3G licenses barely amortized and 4g starting to be the game… it’s fairly easy to see a wait and see policy may not hurt them much.

    I was wrong that fiber to premise is as universal as I thought, however at business level pricing it certainly is far easier to obtain sadly though, there is a availability crisis. I think the availability crisis is physical. I think they’ve done a very poor job of marketing to high density customer premises or neighborhoods. I think they ought to have done that first. Instead it looked, in retrospect, all too good and all too easy. Will I be the first in my block to pay $5000 to have a fiber line across the street? Hmmm…. I think then all the local multi tenant rights of way must have hit hard. But by not marketing this at all, I think they failed to get the revenue required to upgrade nearby cabinets. With long initial base contracts, there should have been intelligent forecasting of demand. I think where I live, I could be offered a almost nominal dig cost as a first customer, provided they bothered to then actually push the product to my co-op’s other residents. However, if you had really good GIS and economic data, I can see a business doing this. Maybe that is what BT OpenReach hoped for. There are certainly a number, in the dozens, of small ISPs opening up to serve neighborhoods. But that said, I have found it hard to figure out those who are offering the gigabit services at consumer prices. I believe it must be tax subsidy, or maybe the whole investment problem that too much money is chasing too few real returns.

    I’ve had a better look more closely. It seems BT OpenReach has stalled on a lot of its fiber build. Fiber to premise has firmly been curtailed for domestic use, and is down to business connections where there is fiber to a local cabinet. However, my pals in the sunny south coast town of Bournemouth can bet 1Gb/s to their home for thirty bucks a month, subject to a 1TB downstream limit, I’m not informed as to upstream. That’s because another ISP has hooked up to BT for the last mile, there. I hazard that in London at least, there is no space in cabinets either at street or DSLAM or exchange level. Anecdotally, you have a better chance of getting gigabit service outside of London. Partly that is rural tax subsidy. At least that is just, given how long many communities have been underserved to not served at all.

    Sorry for diverting the issue off topic a while. If you have a business budget, options exist for fiber to the premise sadly only when you are within dig distance or a conduit blow away from a existing fiber cabinet, from what I can tell.

    To me, this plus “plug and play” “mini datacenter” offerings, as HP are offering, suggests that there is a potential new utility market.

    Consider any high density business or higher income conurbations, and the value of off premise supply of even simple computing is considerable, but in many ways proportional to latency.

    Why do people buy laptops?

    Consider the BYOD movement.

    If I am paying for my own device, can I not pay for a near latency machine that at night uses up compute budget to play games on?

    I don’t know where we’re at with things like Mainframe2 and other VDI aimed at graphics, but it could be that the cumulative latency isn’t prohibitive.

    Do I want to pay domestic rates for electricity? Or commercial?

    (obviously there is tax application variations to account for)

    Is that GPGPU I use at work sitting idle into the few moments I have free at home?

    Does my company want to let me “take” the facility for my own use, which as often as not is preparing something work related?

    The physical scale is going to keep reducing, until garage lots can serve whole zip codes.

    Nate, I’m pipe dreaming about what will happen and eight after this, I’m going to have a think whether I should pull my thoughts together properly. I’m blown away recently at the sheer variation in virtual server prices. Softlayer are possibly the high cost outlier. But when hardware alone puts a single core highest clock Xeon, plus 16GB RAM, and tiered SSD / spinning rust of about 20:20:60 low latencyPCI/ budget SSD / capacity headline enterprise at a couple hundred bucks per annum, there is margin to build very interesting services. My arithmetic is kindergarten so far, just considered while scribbling this, but as off as it may be, I’ve used straight quotes without the discounts I normally get, and ignored serious margin enhancers such as lease tax rebate and other incentives, which might just level out the facilities cost.

    Now, if HP would only please do my spare room for a fit, I’d be sweet!

    It might be I let my bald pate catch the sun today, it’s a scorcher under a thankfully spotless day, but I suddenly wondered what BT did with all their rights to place pillbox coin op phones on the street? About the same size as a tall rack! They already relay their WiFi for customers from many.

    Probably it is the urban landscape that interests me most. I was always fascinated by big exchange buildings, as a boy. I wonder how much more intimate we will become with computers. A supercomputer of eighties spec in the hand… a modern clustered mini super on the street corner? At what point will we be able to offer compute for free to all comers? I’m thinking kids. I’m thinking we need a IDE that works well on handheld devices. What if internet was free all the time you were active on a project? Minors and the unemployed. I’d be more radical, and offer services on a future PAYE basis. PAYE is Pay As You Earn, the employer tax deduction scale in the UK. Not obviously viable directly for self employed, but a deferred trade that could bootstrap many. I think talk of The Internet Of Things is fine, but it is still not a Internet Of People, as producers and more than social media interaction. For TIOT to work, there must be a demand, and whilst things like home energy efficiency are good, basic insulation would do more, permanently, for less. There has to be more pull than push, or at least a change in the sophistication of utilization of the internet. Note I did not say use, because for me use means consumption. My generation was probably the first exposed to home computing, and the result is, well, not a bad thing at all. So far we have bred a new generation or two of increasingly sophisticated consumers. Media companies and those interested in monitoring behavior like that, mostly. But very few on the net are not simply consumers. My interaction with you and your webserver remains that essentially of two technically minded writers. I can’t post a comment embedding a example of a nifty search for your site, or ask your site to do a custom topic search update for me, package it and send it optimized for a reader. I can do all those things by other means. But to me they are not as interesting as what now seems to me a bit of history: OpenDoc. If you make a massive multitude of code providers, if the individual is to become a programmer, in one way, even the proliferation of gtlds limits the ease of distribution. Saying that because I kicked myself I let a couple of good domain names expire that were scooped up, for which I have some use suddenly. But the whole issue is then one of trust, of a new service, even allowing I can think of a good name (I have let names go I should have taken real money for. Less so now, I used to come up with good names frequently enough, but they have mostly been used for nonpublic projects or horse traded for favors and skills at the not so bad at all best) .. to try to end my digression of a digression, there is brand equity in online identities, and it would be neat if alongside a commenter’s name, there was a drop down expanding to a few tools I am working on right now. I’m stopping here because i’ll get closer to something that I think i’d rather not be more explicit about, though I’ve covered all the bases broad brush.

    Finally, Nate, thank you seriously for your 3PAR write-ups of late. I simply couldn’t understand their own materials, nor would I have likely gone to dig around for the information that became relevant to me, right this past week in fact. You write well enough HP ought to be cutting some marketing staff and handing you the savings. Not being funny at all, I have met guys working for EMC and others (varied career) who retired handsomely on sales commissions without a fraction of your comprehension. I shall take my thoughts to HP directly, next time I have opportunity to speak to someone who would not feel their on target earnings under threat! What I appreciate most personally, is I can be our of the loop for quite a while, and yet come up to passable speed, just by dropping by. Credit is due.

    All best from me,

    ~ j

    Comment by John ( other John ) — July 18, 2014 @ 9:32 am

  5. I just read your blog at

    And where you make a really good case for HP (you can thank their marketing arm),you really misrepresent the CIsco UCS system in the most grotesque fashion I have ever seen from a supposed “technical person”. You have done a very good job reposing the same marketing lies that HP tells customers to keep selling their outdated systems.

    Every point that you point to is mostly false:

    Out of band management: If Cisco does not have out of band management (its a little think called mgmt port on the FI’s), then neither does HP with ILO.

    Fault domains: If a TWO DIFFERENT Fabric interconnects that do not share any power supplies and all the connected servers in SEPARATE chassis with up to 4 different power supplies constitutes a single fault domain, then what does several HP Chassis represent if the single server that you use to manage the chassis then goes down represent?

    HP Smart Update Manager: This is not part of a Chassis and the software included with said chassis (Cisco includes firmware management FREE as part of the system), its a completely different software solution: With Cisco you can use Microsoft, BMC and a host of others to manage the firmware and patches that HP claims… No differentiation here.

    The Case for intelligent Compute: Where you right, HP (and really Compaq, I miss them as a company) has had really good ram checking for a long time, but it does not stop there, you need to monitor a whole suite of items on servers today. Cisco has much of this built in (At no extra cost), along with a similar function to HP on the RAM. This is so common on systems today that even white box vendors have Advanced ECC to some extent.

    Simplicity Matters: So What? HP Can connect to a 3Par array… Cisco UCS has been doing this with Netapp and EMC for quite some time… maybe 3 years. Nice of HP to copy them. Also cabeling a UCS system is so simple you can train a monkey to do it… IOM A to FI A (don’t care which port) IOM B to FI B (again don’t care which port)… Simple, then configure from the crap Java interface… Yea Java Sucks, and Cisco uses it all over the place!

    The Cost of the 17th Server: I’m not sure where you got that slide, but when I have done this for many customers its much closer that either slide shows. But Cisco usually does edge out HP when it comes to actual purchase price. Go look at the state of California department of general services web site to get an idea of average selling price on HP gear, then get a quote from a Cisco Reseller… or better yet, get one from HP , then get one from Cisco… They will be real close.

    Portfolio Matters: Who cares when what I really want is an x86 server with loads of ram for my visualization farm? Now for the more nitch apps that I’m not visualizing, well, those are going AWAY! So I don’t care and neither do a lot of other people.

    The last slide: Dell, really they compare to dell? Watch this: Thats a real comparison!

    Since you have closed off the comments no one is allowed to point out the errors of your ways. But your last statement says it all “as I mentioned I won’t buy Cisco for any reason already”, you are closed off to learning new technology and for an “IT professional” this is really sad.


    (p.s. if a storage vendor is treating SSD, aka flash drives, the same as block storage your in for a real issue when it comes to MLC cycles)

    Comment by Eric — July 20, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

  6. Thanks for the post! That post was really old and a while ago I told wordpress to close off older posts for comments due to comment spam (see side bar towards the top).

    Myself I cannot buy from Cisco regardless of technology because they have horrible horrible business practices. On the same token I cannot buy from Amazon or Walmart for similar reasons.

    If a 5 year unconditional warranty is not sufficient for your SSDs then you might have a problem yes. For me 5 years is plenty of time(this is the warranty on all 480/960/1.92TB HP 3PAR SSDs).

    Comment by Nate — July 20, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

  7. I can only agree with Eric, that soon as you mess with any configuration of HP kit, it’s time to break out at the very least some soothing classical music. Bach cantatas seem to do the trick for me, because of the repetition but intriguing variations… just getting a quote from a VAR, with the way HP manage SKUs, is frustration. I thought I was getting attitude, from one, through a quote process. Then, because it was a sweltering day and the VAR nearby we went for a cold one, and the rep, after suitable refreshment, said, “hey, John, you’re on their developer program, for hecks sake.. Go download the same tools I use!” (we could not order direct, but the tools were there, i’d not looked, we’d grandfathered some accreditation from the end of DEC days) and, I tried, there and then. No Sale! Not after two beers, anyhow, was any sense going to be made out of that.

    That’s a good video. If only I could see it!

    I know the message is spoken, but why the lousy quality?

    My question is this: that Cisco video sings sweet to small shops. But how may small shops have anyone to hand who pays attention to any of this?

    Admittedly, many small shops may be startups, and this is all about competing private v public or semi public cloud, and scale. However, small shoos that remain small growth wise, I can think my attorney’s firm, for one, do not have the mindset to look at this. They buy hardware and software and get the VAR to set it up, and it’s pretty basic, except for the volume of documents and need for compliance and a few vertical concerns. They are badly oversold everything, and get very little for it. They pay the VAR to make the system “go away”. I’ve known their senior garner twenty something years, and a few little videos like this would wake him to what he’s overpaying for. Small shops not in IT, tend to think it’s all a mysterious game, and all the advertising is so oriented to preserving a illusion. Can you imagine ever a product feature being advertised on television, like the linked video? But I’m convinced it would work, with some modification. Is it the risk of educating the customer, and so bringing margins down so much, already? But then this kind of kit, UCS, small blade bundles, are surely a coveted bastion of margin, for vendor and reseller alike.

    Why I say “tend to think it’s a mysterious game”, I was searching for any words to summaries the disillusion with IT that small business really has. Usually studded with every caricature of industry practitioner loathing, from the mythical “director’s nephew” who “knows computers”, to burned fingers with poor backups, to gouging salesmen… but it all starts, in my mind, with the attitude of marketing to the smaller shop that has a budget. Even ones without a specific budget, who need to be asked to tote their spend and admit they have a budget… there’s no positive informational advertising in that sector.

    Sorry form my griping, everyone, I wish I could clone my career, and gave pursued being a “enlightened” VAR, but when I was learning the hard way why the sectors I describe struggle with IT so badly, and are so poorly served, I was buy side wanting high end kit, and being denied even passing attention by questions like “do you have mire than 250 employees”, “no, we’re five of us, but our budget looks like…” “sorry, can’t speak to you”… just like that, from a FTSE100 company. Solved in the end by accidentally meeting their sales director at my tailor’s (friend of mine, I’m not loaded to buy custom suits like that!) …

    I guess it’s just still a world away, between blogs like Nate’s, and smaller companies enjoying too end systems and facilities. I am starting to think that incumbent dealer networks, or even things like the Microsoft partner programmed, might be dead weight inertia, because it’s now possible to sell truly sophisticated systems to much smaller customers, but there’s a army or armies of people living off genuflecting to the configuration of machines, like that video notes.

    For Eric,

    Sure Dell aren’t much any place in that stratum of the market. But load up a PE920 and a good hypervisor system, and you can be very close in terms of work loads.

    Does anyone have a handle how many blade systems are “consolidating” distributed boxes, but keeping one application per server, as M’soft shops are so habituated? I don’t know how much argument there is for dense discrete blades in the mid market, though I would use discrete blades with VMWare’s HA or Stratus Avance wherever a department mail server happens to be. (and for sure, with Exchange, does virtualization get the “aha” moments when I talk to friends running businesses without IT roles)

    P.p.s. yeah, flash for black storage.., this is the next scare to rip through small business. In fact, any place. Because a break in, I forwent all smart phones for a while, took cash recompense instead, just about made it to six months now (!) and I swear the flash in my super cheap no frills Nokia candy bar phone has worn down. As few as six incoming SMS text only messages, and I get “no space” alerts, with no archive of anything kept. I guess with some chips as low as 500 write cycles spec, it was easy to do. The write cycle spec on flash drives aimed at “semi pro” segments, really worry me. We held back a generation (luckily we could, unluckily a project delay was partly to blame) to afford top notch wearing specs and for T10DIFFnand other end to end integrity capabilities to finally get onto silicon, even if still that’s only top devices only.. I think only the current and just forthcoming high end SSDs really can cut it, without being a area of serious planning concern.

    Comment by John ( other John ) — September 8, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

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