HP is offering reference templates to help IT departments more easily integrate Microsoft applications with its recently announced HP Converged Infrastructure architecture.

In November, HP announced services to help customers build and maintain flexible IT environments through a unified converged infrastructure approach. The idea is that by flexibly managing pools of infrastructure resources there comes the ability to quickly deploy new applications and bring on new business.

This week's announcement focuses on making it easier to maintain Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Windows Server 2008 R2. But in order to manage resources to support business applications and meet service level agreements, managing resource pools requires some know-how, said Chris Christianopoulos, ProLiant Blade Systems solutions development manager with HP.

"There is a lot of learnings in that approach, there's expertise and skill sets that are typically required in a customer environment in order to do that," said Christianopoulos.

The templates, HP BladeSystem Matrix templates, are based on learnings from testing systems in tandem with these Microsoft applications and "takes the guess work out of what resources, how many of those resources are required to collectively bring them together and present those out to a Microsoft Exchange 2010," he said.
HP offers reference templates for a variety of vendor applications besides Microsoft.

Christianopoulos said the converged approach was very different from the traditional way of procuring technology, which involves business cases, purchase orders and lengthy implementation time. But, he added, having "those shared resources on your floor" hastens the typical deployment processes.

According to HP, customers have reduced deployment time from 33 days to 108 minutes. Michelle Warren, president of MW Research & Consulting, said improved efficiency can sometimes be difficult to measure especially when these are "whole data centres processing huge quantities of data" but she doesn't question HP's claims of better power usage and infrastructure utilisation.

IT departments are generally attracted to templates, said Warren, as it simplifies the lives of IT managers running the show.

Christianopoulos said there was no shortage of discussion about private and public clouds, but HP prefered to see it as "shared services" regardless of whether the infrastructure is internal or external. "Whether you are meeting the SLA to the line of business, that is the critical element," he said.

Although there was much buzz about virtualisation, Christianopoulos said that was only about a single element in an entire infrastructure. The "next logical progression," he said, is shared services because that extends beyond single components to include a broader focus on other things like storage, networking, power and cooling.
Warren agrees that a unified converged approach takes virtualisation to the next level. But such a broader vision can be daunting, she said: "Coupled with long-term vision is money."