HP Moonshot
These boxes are never interesting to look at, this is the HP Moonshot Gemini 1500

Hewlett-Packard calls it new range of servers Project Moonshot. That fits because the task in front of HP is as challenging as when America decided to put a man on the moon in the 1960s.

HP’s first Moonshot server uses Intel Atom processors. This means customers can build energy-efficient datacentres costing ess than existing hardware.

Atom means Moonshot servers are tiny. You need one eighth the space of traditional servers and almost one tenth of the energy. The price per processor is about a quarter the cost of earlier servers. And HP says Moonshot is less complex.

HP’s problem is that the key customers who would once have bought this kind of kit now build their own servers using no-name suppliers and commodity components. The big cloud suppliers and companies like Google or Facebook also roll their own server hardware. No-one at the top end of the market cares any more about the logo on server boxes.

Smaller server customers – and in this context that still means big by New Zealand standards – are busy moving to the cloud. Fewer companies run in-house data centres. And their cloud suppliers are building no-brand servers.

Which leaves HP with the enterprise computing market. They’re not in the hardware development business and are happy to buy kit from the likes HP along with the services and support to make it all work.

That “the likes of HP” thing is interesting. HP is up against Dell and IBM, perhaps Oracle to a lesser degree. Dell has its own internal problems, IBM focuses on services not hardware. Oracle is still essentially a software company that uses own-brand hardware strategically.

It appears HP is slowly turning around. Moonshot is part of that. It is brave and innovative.  HP has not shied away from the risk of cannibalising its existing sales. While Moonshot could be a reboot of the systems market, it could also be the old guard’s last hurrah.

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