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HP Moonshot, Data Centers and Scalability

bimialmi on ‎06-12-2013 11:16 PM

In electronics (including hardware, communication and software), scalability is the ability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work in a capable manner or its ability to be enlarged to accommodate that growth. To scale horizontally (or scale out) means to add more nodes to a system, such as adding a new computer to a distributed software application. To scale vertically (or scale up) means to add resources to a single node in a system, typically involving the addition of CPUs or memory to a single computer. Since I've been here at HP Discover, I have had numerous conversations with customers on the best way to scale - for many, this topic is clearly top of mind. 


Scalability is a pretty slippery term. Not only can it be applied differently in multiple industries, but its meaning will vary within a particular industry. To confuse matters even more, we can talk about scaling UP and scaling OUT. For a business that is heavily reliant on computing capability, at some point the demands of the business will outpace the ability of the computing system, potentially compromising the company's mission. In this situation, scaling of the IT systems is necessary.


But how to scale? Scaling out, in simple terms, means to add more nodes (computers, storage, etc.) to the system. Scaling up, also in simple terms, means to build upon a single node within the system (like expanding memory or adding more processors).


So it is probably time that I tie in HP Moonshot and data centers to this narrative. When we design data centers, a common requirement is to provide modularity and expansion capability (essentially scalability) in the design of the power and cooling systems. This is usually done for a number of reasons, principally energy efficiency, maintainability, and resiliency, and to ensure zero impact on data center operations during future expansion. (If you want to learn more about this, I've written a blog article on modularity "Modular Data Centers: What Exactly Are They, and What Can They Do for You?" and a journal article "Using a Modular Design Approach in Data Centers Will Help Lower Capital Spending While At the Same Time Increase Energy Efficiency, Reliability and Expandability" that might be of interest).


Modular power and cooling systems also have the ability to introduce new types of technology into the overall system without impacting the operations. Through my optics I see many of the characteristics of a flexible, reliable and efficient data center in HP Moonshot. Each chassis accommodates 45 Moonshot servers (cartridges) that work off of common power, cooling and communications components. A cartridge can be taken out of service (hot swap) without having to power down any components or disconnect Ethernet cables. This capability greatly improves reliability and serviceability. And since each cartridge is "software defined" there can be different types of applications running on different servers, significantly boosting the flexibility of the computing.


These are only a small handful of the features that separate Moonshot from a standard blade server environment. You can learn more about Moonshot here. Clearly Moonshot has all of the hallmarks of a system that is flexible, reliable and energy-efficient: in my world, the trifecta of engineering design.


News from HP Discover 2013 today: HP Moonshot servers will be offered with HP Cloud OS, our new open and extensible cloud technology platform. Read more here.

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