I am used to additional software and functionality for server management to cost money, especially when it comes in the form of a cloud hosted service. I was surprised to hear at HP’s recent Gen8 Blogger Tech Tour that HP rolled out a free online version of the Insight software focused on making administrators duties less painful, take less time, and provide proactive support. This new service is called HP Insight Online and can benefit everyone from the SMB, to the Enterprise and even VARs. It is completely free to anyone who purchases a Proliant Gen8 server, because according to Doug Haskell, “You were a smart guy…you bought a Proliant!”. After your server is out of contract, some functionality will be reduced, but you still have access to the base features of the product.
The participation of Insight Online is opt-in, so it doesn’t automatically just start sending information from your servers to HP. Insight Online has also been certified through the TRUSTed Cloud certification program to ensure sound data management practices. In order to keep this certification HP has to work with TRUSTe to get re-certified annually and have to go through a strict listing of requirements for the program.
The interface of HP Insight Online is a breath of fresh air. It goes along HP’s new design scheme where pages without a lot of text has a black background (which @mattvogt doesn’t like) but I think it was easy to read and to follow. Very simplistic but it allows you to drill down on each server to gain more information. You can also add users to specific servers so they only have access to the servers that they need to manage.
It happens, even to the market leaders. Hardware, especially the pieces that have moving parts, fail. In the past, your monitoring system would send you an alert and you would investigate and then call support. Then you would spend at least 30 minutes (if not hours, especially if they want logs) going through prompts and giving the technician the information. Why can’t this be easier? Well, with HP Insight Online it is. If you opt in, your new Gen8 HP Proliant will communicate failures to your local CSM server that pushes the information out to HP (they are working on a direct connection for those instances where you do not have a CSM server). It gathers the needed data, automatically opens up a ticket, emails you the information, and (depending on the problem) earmarks a shipment out to your location. If you need to contact a technician about the issue, you already have an open case and HP has all of your information.
Not only will they detect problems, they can also detect trends with hardware failures. If they see a lot of a specific type of hardware failing in mass they can cross check that hardware to see if it all came in on the same batch. If they find a pattern they will automatically send out a replacement part to the clients that haven’t reported any issues before the part fails.
This is a feature I am sure many HP fans will love. In the same interface with your server status you can also see which service contracts you have and when they expire. No more spreadsheets! Something small, but it is a feature that is low overdue.
HP is very VAR friendly, and their Insight Online product is no different. You can give your VAR permission to have a lot of the same information that you see in your portal. They will see a similar interface but have all of their clients grouped in the main dash board. This allows var’s to show their clients more valueadd as well as strengthen their relationship with the client.
You can tell HP put a lot of thought into this product before it was launched and went through the scenario’s from the system admins viewpoint. This is a win-win for both the customer and HP. The customer gets better service from HP and HP can take the information they get and use it to improve their products. This is one of the many solutions that came with Gen8 that is adding value to the Proliant line to differentiate the product from the competition of commodity based server providers. I believe it is a welcome addition to any IT toolbox and will benefit you if you have 1 or 500 servers in your organization.
Disclaimer: HP invited me to the Gen8 Blogger Tech Tour and paid for all accommodations while I was there. I received some swag and a 32GB thumb drive but I was not required to blog anything good or bad about this trip. My opinions are my own and cannot be bought.