Exclusive: HP wields blades to ease desktop management
Innovative Consolidated Client Infrastructure replaces desktop PCs with thin clients connected to blade serversFollow @infoworld
Probably no other task in IT generates as much frustration as supporting users' PCs. Many CTOs lament that despite outrageous maintenance costs, ensuring proper resilience and security for PC-based applications is often merely wishful thinking.
A sudden PC failure often causes a user to lose data and be unproductive for hours or even days while a replacement is found and properly configured. In case of loss or theft, companies that permit the storage of business data on desktops and laptops are also exposed to possible embarrassment, litigation, or worse from data disclosures.
Hewlett-Packard has unveiled a solution aimed at giving IT the upper hand in this struggle: CCI (Consolidated Client Infrastructure).
Virtualization is the essence of CCI. The solution removes PCs from users’ desktops and replaces them with thin clients that connect to centrally managed PC blade servers via TCP/IP. From these clients, users access virtual images of an OS and applications residing on the blades. The clients themselves are diskless, with just enough resources to attach basic peripherals such as a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
During the test of a dedicated CCI setting, set up by HP, I had mostly positive experiences, both as an administrator and a user. As an admin, I discovered that the CCI approach to PC management is more efficient than any method I’ve tried. As a user, I often had to remind myself that the actual processing power and applications were located somewhere other than on my desk.
Some of the constraints built into the system and
a certain degree of complexity that goes into
creating a flexible virtual environment may render CCI inappropriate for some organizations. Further, the notion of a noncustom device that potentially fits any user may not be well-received by every employee. Nevertheless, most companies should be able to find a workable solution that improves data and applications manageability while adding much-needed resilience to users’ computing. For many companies, that should translate into significantly reduced administrative cost, a welcome by-product of virtualized desktops.
HP centers CCI around its recently announced bc1000 blade PC that mounts the 1GHz Efficeon TM8000 processor from Transmeta, a 40GB ATA drive, two Ethernet cards, and as much as 1GB of memory.
The bc1000 fits vertically in one of the slots of the HP e-Class Blade PC Enclosure, a separate component that has room for 20 blades and can optionally host as many as two Ethernet switches to simplify cable routing and administration.
On the end-user side, HP offers different T5000 thin-client models with a choice of CPU, local OS, and local ports to support users’ applications. Whichever client you choose, users’ OS and applications are not installed locally but on a blade PC.
My test bed also included a blade chassis with several slots filled with specialized servers offering services such as Microsoft Active Directory, IP load-balancing servers, and HP’s blade PC RDP (Rapid Deployment Package) management software. Other slots contained blade PCs with Microsoft Office and other typical user applications installed on top of Windows XP Professional.