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Issue of September 2002 
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Vendor Voice: Utility Data Centers
Building a dynamic Utility Data Center

IT infrastructure is static, requiring significant manual intervention for each change. Resources must be provisioned for each application, meaning significant over-provisioning. A Utility Data Center addresses these challenges with a data center infrastructure that is wired once and can be reconfigured simply and dynamically, with a click of the mouse. by Kamal Dutta

After an hour long presentation, an IT analyst exclaimed that the concept just described was still 5 to 10 years away. The presentation was for a Utility Data Centre (UDC), a new approach to designing and managing data center infrastructure using existing assets.

The company in question is HP and its UDC presents a kind of building-block system for creating data centers that can store data in 'federated arrays of bricks,' meaning commodity servers that can be easily managed to maintain reliability. Based on the Open View platform, the UDC allows enterprises to integrate servers, storage and networking gear from almost any vendor. The data center ties into HP's vision of creating an infrastructure that enables a user's data to follow him as he moves around the globe.

The UDC Solution Foundation is meant for always-on Internet infrastructure data centers, which service providers and customers alike, struggle to keep pace with, due to business change and the challenge of continuous profit improvement.

What's a Utility Data Center?

A Utility Data Center (UDC) is a new approach to designing and managing data center infrastructure using existing assets. A UDC with utility controller software is wired once and can be reconfigured simply and dynamically, with a click of the mouse. Hence it presents benefits like simplified management and lower TCO.

According to HP, a UDC is the first scaleable 'wire once' solution that simplifies the challenge of data center management. This offering allows data centers to be virtually provisioned and managed on the fly--giving businesses the ability to deploy new applications and services rapidly, activate new customers faster and establish flexible usage-based billing. By pooling all data center resources into a single physical infrastructure, the UDC allows enterprises to dramatically reduce over-provisioning of expensive IT assets while providing access to virtually unlimited computing capacity.

HP claims its UDC significantly lowers overall TCO (by 10 to 50 percent) and improves measurement for achieving service-level agreements, resulting in better overall customer satisfaction. It provides enterprise customers with an unprecedented ability to reduce IT infrastructure TCO and enhance agility and provide definite service levels to their end users.

BENEFITS
While change is constant, IT infrastructures are static, requiring significant manual intervention for each change. Resources must be provisioned for each application, meaning significant over-provisioning. A breakthrough from HP, the UDC with utility controller software, addresses these challenges with a data center infrastructure that is wired once and can be reconfigured simply and dynamically, with a click of the mouse.

HP claims its UDC provides an unprecedented reduction in overall IT cost of ownership in any large environment by changing the way IT assets are used and managed. HP UDC significantly lowers overall TCO (by 10 to 50 percent) and improves measurement for achieving service-level agreements, resulting in better overall customer satisfaction. It provides enterprise customers with an unprecedented ability to reduce IT infrastructure total cost of ownership (TCO) and enhance agility and provide definite service levels to their end users.

It is the first scaleable 'wire once' solution that profoundly simplifies the challenge of data center management. This offering allows data centers to be virtually provisioned and managed on the fly—giving businesses the ability to deploy new applications and services rapidly, activate new customers faster and establish flexible usage-based billing. By pooling all data center resources into a single physical infrastructure, the UDC allows enterprises to dramatically reduce over-provisioning of expensive IT assets while providing access to virtually unlimited computing capacity. At the heart of this UDC is HP's utility controller software, which simplifies the designing, provisioning and billing of IT resources for applications and services.

The UDC is a complete data center solution consisting of software to activate and manage an infrastructure environment, consulting services to optimally architect it, and global services to continuously keep the infrastructure up and running. By combining HP UDC with HP Open View Integrated Services Management solution, HP enables complete automation of the provisioning of new services and applications and comprehensive measurement of service usage and performance from the infrastructure through to the application.

The HP UDC can accommodate servers, storage and network equipment from HP and other vendors, enabling customers to transit their legacy environments simply. This cost-savings solution allows customers to build new data centers or leverage existing IT investments as data centers evolve to become flexible infrastructures responding quickly to unexpected changes in demand. What's more, you can still use your Solaris servers and EMC storage with the UDC framework.

For deploying information and communication services, HP's utility fabric presents a set of benefits. Each benefit is linked to elements in the HP offering. The utility fabric is designed to provide flexibility and scalability, which is essential in providing service offerings. HP's focus on automated provisioning and the ability to reallocate resources underpins this value proposition.

Accounting and management subsystems are an integral part of the HP utility fabric. The enterprise data centers depend on precise accounts of resource usage in order to bill customers accurately and easily. The HP utility fabric supports consolidation or recentralization of resources. There is telltale evidence from early adopters of consolidated storage systems supports, the claim that costs are lower when fewer staff manages a greater number of IT assets. Since provisioning accelerates an organizations' ability to bring new information systems to market in support of new products and services, time to market has emerged as a critical success factor across many industries, and support systems are often on the critical path.

The HP UDC suite of products is capable of reducing the over-all investment in IT processing, storage, network, and software. Consolidation reduces stranded resources and allows for greater utilization. In addition, UDCs have greater density and lower power consumption, thus leading to additional capital investment savings.

On top of a physical hardware foundation, HP has concentrated its efforts on building a utility controller, which is responsible for the allocation of resources to services that are delivered to the customer. Dynamic resource allocation is a fundamental part of the utility controller. HP's commitment is to support standard operating systems and protocols so that customers can mix and match multi-vendor products.

ARCHITECTURE
UDC products are organized in a four-tier layered architecture. As always, the data tier provides a foundation. In large installations, this tier is populated with a variety of storage devices and architectures, including storage area networks for the uniform management of large data sets.

Streaming tape, different categories of RAID, various snapshot technologies, and storage appliances populate the data layer. SQL servers provide relational database support when needed. High-speed switches link the data tier to the application tier so that processing can be linked to data in a flexible, dynamic manner. Some application software is installed at this layer—for example, enterprise resource planning (ERP) core systems. Switches link the application tier to the Web tier, and access to applications is managed uniformly with standard markup languages.

Network attached storage (NAS) appliances assist in the storage and caching of data for the application layer.

The Web tier contains additional servers and storage to allow users to browse Web pages containing the information that they need. A final bank of switches pumps information to and from the access tier, where network services are located. The access layer is also where basic security functionality resides. For example, the data center side of virtual private networks (VPNs), authentication and authorization repositories, and intrusion detection systems are all part of the access layer.

By using HP UDC, businesses can ensure that their IT infrastructure is optimally responsive to changing financial and competitive demands. For service providers, HP UDC enables data centers to speed differentiating online services to market without compromising billing accuracy or overall operating costs.

Kamal Dutta, is Business Manager, HP Unix Servers, HP India Pvt. Ltd.

 
     
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