HP's Project Synergy promises Amazon-type provisioning for bare metal servers

The change to OneView management software should make it faster for businesses to deploy applications

Hewlett-Packard is developing new capabilities for its OneView systems management software that it says will allow for automated provisioning of applications across pools of servers and storage.

The premise is that businesses want to deploy applications more quickly to take advantage of opportunities in areas like mobile and big data analytics, but that the process is too slow if they're doing it in-house or on hosted bare-metal servers.

At its Discover conference Wednesday, HP kicked off a multi-year effort, known as Project Synergy, that it said will turn existing hardware into pools of compute, storage and networking that can be assembled in software according to the needs of an application or workload.

Customers will write to a "unified" programming interface in OneView, called the Composable Infrastructure API, that masks the complexity of having to program individually for each piece of hardware, storage and network equipment, said Paul Miller, a marketing vice president with HP's Enterprise Group.

"You don't want to relate to your infrastructure as a bunch of pieces of hardware. As an app developer or administrator, you want to write a single line of code to grab the infrastructure you need, and that's the promise we're trying to deliver on," he said.

Essentially, HP is trying to offer a similar experience that customers have when they deploy applications to a service like Amazon Web Services, but aims to do it with existing infrastructure equipment that may not be virtualized. Instead, OneView will act as the assembly vehicle, queuing up the hardware resources that app developers specify.

It's not unlike a technology that Sun Microsystems was developing more than a decade ago called N1, though Sun never managed to commercialize the product before being acquired by Oracle.

Applications will need to be written to support the model, and HP is working with Puppet, Docker, Chef Software and Ansible to support the composable API, according to an HP blog post. Docker is working on a prototype now, but the other vendors are still in early planning stages, Miller said.

For customers, he said, they'll be able to add a line of code to in-house applications that describes the hardware and service level they want for the app, and then reuse that code like a template for future applications.

VMware is also on board, according to HP. Even though VMware has tools for automated provisioning, Project Synergy will give it more granular access to the bare metal and allow it to provision dedicated processor cores for particular applications, for example.

Initially, customers will need to be using one of HP's "converged systems," which link the compute, storage and network into a single system. But the idea is that it will eventually work over islands of "disaggregated infrastructure." As such it becomes the programming model for HP's The Machine, the futuristic system it's building that will do away with hard disks and store all data in a new, non-volatile memory type called memristors. The Machine isn't expected until the end of the decade, though HP says an early prototype built with DRAM will be available next year.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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