HP Technology Forum 2010 Highlights

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the HP Technology Forum 2010 via OSNews and just spent most of this last week in Las Vegas with five thousand other nerds of varying caliber. The tech forum is focused more on enterprise technology than that of the consumer, and– let’s face it– even if any of us could afford a $30,000 rack of servers, most of us have little idea of what we’d do with so many resources except brag. Despite the focus on an area not quite as natural to OSNews and many of its readers, there was a plenitude of good and interesting information shared– aside from that, the forum was simply fun. There were a few subjects that were especially eye-catching, though many of them not necessarily comprehensive enough to base an entire article on; thus this overview.

Converged Infrastructure: What Is It, and Why Care?

“Converged Infrastructure” seemed to be the main obsession throughout the entire conference. I’ll admit it– I could only guess at what it meant, and I still don’t have my head fully wrapped around the concept, but, despite the thorough enterprise-ness of the idea, it’s definitely noteworthy.

Converged Infrastructure, in HP’s dictionary, “provides a blueprint for the data center of the future that eliminates costly and rigid IT silos so you can spend much more of your IT budget on business innovation. This is achieved by converging server, storage and networks with facilities – all managed through a common management platform.”

Essentially, you have quite a few traditional servers and a whole slew of switches connecting these servers to all sorts of things via hundreds or even thousands of feet of cable. HP’s Converged Infrastructure aims to consolidate the servers, switches, storage, cables, and etcetera to the most compact, robust, and streamlined data center solution possible. Combine Converged Infrastructure with advancing virtualization and microchip technologies and you can reduce a traditional 20-server room to a 1-server rack (and that’s not exaggerating), saving thousands on what you’d spend maintaining the old technology to help pay for the new technology within a year or two. If the company applying said technology decides to use the saved money to expand the datacenter, computing power per watt and per square foot increases dramatically. This is pretty neat stuff, and any enterprise big enough that doesn’t at least take a look at this advancing technology is a bit soft in the collective head.

HP released quite a few new products at the Tech Forum that fit the Converged Infrastructure bill. Though they’re not outlined here, take a look at some of them; even if you’re not familiar with enterprise-grade servers, just reading the specs makes them rather drool-worthy.

Since this was the main focus at the forum, several of the HP partner booths that I visited also concentrated on the topic, including Samsung (who showed me some spiffy advancements in SSD and DDR3 technology that’ll be used in new HP servers), QLogic, ATTO (who talked to me about some of their neat fibre-channel networking technology also for use with the new HP servers), and many others, some of which I didn’t even get to visit with.

Silentium: Cool and Quiet Server Storage

Something that especially caught my eye was Silentium‘s booth in the expo. Silentium is a company that builds special server enclosures that both intelligently cool the server and intelligently reduce the noise pollution of both the server and the cooling apparatus. For example, if a classroom required a server of higher magnitude for whatever purpose, one of Silentium’s products would be perfect for that classroom: little noise and simple, compact cooling; the server can sit wherever in the room and not cause a distraction, impair communication, or be in the way. The same can apply to a small office that requires a server of that magnitude but doesn’t need or desire to have the server in a datacenter or a closet hidden somewhere in the back.

Blobo: Alcatel-Lucent’s Idea of Fun

One of the more popular attractions at the expo actually had very little to do with the technology being shown and more to do with the game that was being played. Alcatel-Lucent’s booth showcased various technologies, but the only one I (and most other attendees) took part in was that of the Blobo (especially because the few with the highest scores would win HP netbooks). I assume that this product has some connection with Alcatel-Lucent seeing as how that seemed to be all the employees who ran the booth seemed to concentrate on, but I’ve yet to see some connection between Blobo and Alcatel-Lucent while researching.

At any rate, Blobo is an interesting spin on video gaming with a similar aim as the Wii: be “fit” while playing video games. However, the Blobo’s console is actually the controller itself (AKA the Blobo– a small, somewhat squishy ball the size of a golf ball), which transmits via Bluetooth to any PC or even a mobile phone for the display; the computer that ran the game at the booth was a netbook connected to a 40″-or-so screen. Mac will also be supported soon. Lastly, Blobo is also available as a development platform for games and apps.

I personally don’t see this as any real contender to the Wii and other gaming systems, but then you never know. Very interesting.

And Then Some…

This is really only a drop in the bucket of what was going on with all of the excitement at the HP Technology Forum 2010– a few of the highlights from what I saw and heard. At least two follow-up articles are in line on the topics of Linux and open source at HP and a behind-the-scenes look at the technological side of how the tech forum was run, so stay tuned. Also, if you’re interested in this kind of thing, a more personal rendition of my adventures there is available via my blog, though I’ve currently yet to complete a few final posts on the subject.


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