HP gets it: Servers for data centers have become a commodity. Now the Palo Alto, Calif.-based IT corporation is coming out with servers that companies can buy to satisfy their customers’ application needs.

Today HP revealed its ninth generation of ProLiant equipment. It comes in the form of blade servers, rack servers, tower units, and slim boxes for businesses of all sizes. They’ll become available on Sept. 8.

But HP also shared a new strategy that amounts to a challenge to up-and-comers in the data center hardware business like Quanta, which have traditionally sold to brand-name companies like HP and Dell but are now working directly with buyers like Facebook. HP intends to sell for the “new style of IT,” which implies moving at higher speed with greater simplicity and at a lower price than ever before.

“We have to reimagine servers and think Compute,” HP said in a document summarizing the new strategy, using “Compute” as a stand-in for computing power in servers, rather than emphasizing entire servers, or storage or networking gear. “Only then can we realize tantalizing business results—lowering cost, reducing time to service, and increasing business value.”

HP has increased its year-to-year server revenue and market share in the second quarter of this year. Surely, HP wants to continue that trend as Quanta-type companies continue to gain strength, especially as public cloud becomes more popular, giving cloud providers like Amazon and Google greater economies of scale.

HP is offering to pack in PCIe cards that keep data closer to the CPU for faster processing, as well as power-optimized memory. More generally, the new ProLiant line boasts compute capacity exceeding that of the previous generation, executives have said.

The question is if such hardware will appeal to businesses as an increasing percentage of them tap public clouds. For now, the strategy and product releases seemed reasonable enough to technology analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

“It was really an HP server coming-out party today,” Moorhead wrote in an email to VentureBeat. “While they’re launching a very competitive Gen9 platform, I think the bigger thought here is two-fold. First, they’re setting the stage for a software-defined X future by placing compute at the center of servers, storage and networking. Secondly, they’re placing more bets on a more application-defined server market, where specific servers with different kinds of chassis, thermals, compute, and memory are optimized for specific applications. This is very different from the traditional homogenous, virtualized environment. HP realizes that data centers can’t get much more blood out of that stone.”

Not that the new ProLiant line and new server vision will necessarily save HP when it comes to doing business with cloud giants.

“In the future, I’d like to see HP doing more in appliances and see more details on their Foxconn deal intended to attack the public mega datacenter,” Moorhead wrote. “These are two areas where they need improvement.”


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