HP Software Optimizes its Server Assets through a Consolidation and Virtualization Initiative

HP Asset Manager enables HP division to reduce servers by 30 percent and operating costs by more than 20 percent.

HP began a major technology infrastructure consolidation project to reduce its worldwide data centers from 85 to six.

About this same time, HP also began implementing  strategic growth plans  for its sofware business. It began to acquire software companies, spurring fast-paced business and process integration. HP more than tripled the number of employees wihin HP software while greatly enriching the solution portfolio Hp offers its customers. This rapid growth also enabled HP to vault into a leadership position in end-to-end enterprise business technology management: the company is now the thrid largest enterprise application software company in the United States and sixth in the world. Acquiring new subsidaries -over a half dozen software companies altogehter-also added to the complexity of HP's technology infrastructure.

Each new acquisition became its own island of computing. Each new software development lab came to HP with its own servers and technology management processes. Each new software development lab came to HP with its own servers and technology management processes.

And while the environment needs to be heterogeneous—HP software must run on all commercially available servers.  HP software developers must have a variety of systems available for testing HP applications—it is important to standardize as much as possible, to improve manageability and keep costs down.

“As HP’s software business became significant to HP as a whole, both strategically and from a revenue perspective, we knew we would have to achieve high standards for operational productivity,” notes Larry Wong, Director of Engineering, and HP Software Solutions.

Wong, who leads a team to consolidate HP software’s R&D labs, cites a number of areas the company targeted for improvement—areas familiar to most technology companies. . The time to provision new servers was taking too long is one example. Many older servers were kept in service beyond their life cycle and often unnecessarily. There was no way to understand, at an enterprise level, the status of servers, such as which systems had reached end-of-life or were fully depreciated.

To address these issues, HP needed to understand what systems were deployed in its software labs, Wong notes. So his team turned to HP Asset Manager Software, an application that allows companies to collect technology asset information into a centralized database. Could mention- starting stages of implementing DDMI.

Push button asset reporting

To implement the software, Wong leveraged another HP resource: the HP Software Professional Services organization. “HP Professional Services provides the expertise to set up HP Asset Manager quickly,” Wong notes. “Their technicians know what questions to ask. They helped us get us up to speed quickly.” Reporting was really the heart and soul of what HP Labs needed to have a successful implementation. They were desperate for good metrics that provided visibility into the changes within their infrastructure. HP Professional Services helped Wong’s team appreciate the powerful reporting capabilities of HP Asset Manager.“Before HP Professional Services consulted with us, we didn’t realize how powerful the reporting capabilities are,” Wong says. “We learned how to set up Asset Manager to support ‘push button’ reporting, replacing the manual reporting processes we relied on before.”

Another way HP Professional Services helped was by integrating HP Asset Manager with other applications deployed in the software lab infrastructure. The team used HP Connect-It software to link HP Asset Manager to a homegrown server reservation system already in use within HP software.. As a result, when users place requests for servers, the requests and request status are logged by HP Asset Manager. This enables a more comprehensive understanding of user needsand lets HP identify opportunities for users to move or share server resources which is critical to maximizing server capacity and usage.

Inventories take minutes, not weeks

Once deployed, HP Asset Manager benefits were immediately apparent. “The last time we inventoried our servers, each of our labs had to assign people to do the work manually,” Wong says, noting that there were about 40,000 servers in use within the software labs at the time. “It took each lab about a month to complete the count.”

Today, inventorying the systems is completely automated. Inventories are updated continually, so the data is always current.  Performing the inventories doesn’t require labs to pull staff from other, more important tasks allowing them to focus on developing software.

HP is enhancing Asset Manager’s capabilities even more, Wong adds, by putting RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags on its servers. When servers are physically moved, data about the move will be captured by HP Asset Manager. “We’ll know where our servers are as soon as they’re moved from one room to another,” Wong says.

HP Asset Manager also gave Wong the necessary tools for the lab server consolidation project. He could quickly determine how many servers were deployed in each software lab and how much square footage each site was dedicating to its servers. This formed a basis for planning the consolidation effort. “We had the data we needed to decide which sites we wanted to target, in which order.”

Since beginning the consolidation effort, Wong continues, HP reduced the number of servers in its software labs by around 30 percent, with a comparable reduction in the square footage required to house its servers.

Reducing the number of servers also made the infrastructure less costly to operate. “We’ve reduced our operating expenses by 14 percent,” Wong says. and we have done this by automating the entire end –to-end lifecycle asset tracking process.  The goal is for continued process improvement and cost savings. HP software is even beginning to implement HP’s Discovery and Dependency Mapping for Inventory (DDMI) tool for better physical and virtual asset discovery.


Foundation for virtualization

Because HP Software collects comprehensive data about the servers deployed in its labs, it is also positioned to better manage those servers. “Once you know what you own, you can make judgments about why you own it and how you are using it,” Wong says. “You can look at the age of your hardware, for example, and determine whether you have an aging infrastructure.” This can help managers make better budget projections as they plan upcoming projects and infrastructure upgrades. “Each business unit within HP reviews their equipment quarterly and plans what they need to purchase in the upcoming quarter,” Wong says. “Today, our software lab managers can pull reports from Asset Manager. They quickly tell whether they need new servers for planned projects.”

HP is also now better positioned to negotiate pricing on servers it purchases from third parties. “We can consolidate purchasing of third party systems across the entire software business,” Wong notes.

Managers can also determine whether there might be servers in other shared labs. This becomes even more significant as HP embarks on the next step in its software lab consolidation: virtualization. “As we consolidate and upgrade our server infrastructure, the mix of systems will include a higher percentage of HP BladeSystem server blades,” Wong says. “We’ll be vitalizing portions of our environment to support faster provisioning and improve our ability to share server resources both within labs and across the enterprise.”

Once virtualization is complete, for instance, new servers can be provisioned within a few hours, instead of taking days or weeks. “Users can go to our reservation system and request a server, and it will be dynamically allocated,” Wong says.

And software labs will be able to share servers more fluidly. Server resources underutilized by one lab can be offered virtually to others.

Having a more comprehensive view of its assets will also enable HP to more effectively identify servers no longer needed, Wong adds. “It gives us a higher level of control. We can make better decisions about when to depreciate equipment, when to scrap it, and when to re-use it.

“We’re on a journey toward making our infrastructure more efficient, productive, and cost-effective,” Wong says. “HP Asset Manager has proven an invaluable tool in that journey.”

Business outcomes:

·         Supported 30 percent reduction of HP software lab servers

·         Server reduction has reduced lab operating expenses by 14 percent

·         Clear understanding of what servers are deployed, and where

·         Improved ability to plan, budget



| ‎05-20-2010 03:54 PM

Really sounds like a great step forward to organizing the workflow of your  business. Great post. Thanks.

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