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Project Moonshot can spur widespread VDI deployments, says Carrenza

Matthew Finnegan | April 10, 2013
HP gave the official launch for its Project Moonshot hyperscale system yesterday, as one of the customer trial participants highlighted the benefits of running web caching or VDI using the high density servers.

HP gave the long awaited official launch for its Project Moonshot hyperscale system yesterday, as one of the customer trial participants highlighted the opportunities the high density servers can bring to cloud service providers.

Moonshot is aimed at use in dedicated hosting and large data centres running less compute intensive applications at massive scale on ARM or low-powered x86 processors, with the first Moonshot 1500 enclosures shipping with Intel Atom S1200 chips. Each 4.3u unit has 45 Proliant server cartridges, which HP says uses 89 percent less energy and 80 percent less space than traditional servers.

The Moonshot systems have been in a beta trial ahead of the official launch, with around 50 HP customers in the UK taking part in testing. According to HP, between five and ten of those using beta versions of Moonshot ran the systems in production prior to becoming available in Europe next month.

One of the customers to get their hands on the Moonshot was IaaS service provider Carrenza, which has customers including RBS, Cineworld and Comic Relief.

The cloud provider typically operates with roughly 12,000 CPUs available across the three data centres it uses in the UK and Holland, with approximately 95 percent of its HP c-Class blades virtualised using VMware hypervisors.

Carrenza CEO Dan Sutherland has been testing the beta system since December, claiming to have overcome initial scepticism towards the benefits of implementing Moonshot over its existing infrastructure.

"As a type of server it doesn't really exist at the moment, you can't go out and get something else to compare, so it was about finding out what this was capable of doing," said Sutherland. "We have a chassis with 45 servers in it, which is one unit. For testing purposes that is as much as we need, as you just rack and stack after that."

For Carrenza the Moonshot trial involved a limited live trial supporting transactions during this year's Comic Relief event, Red Nose Day.

The cloud service provider has been involved in the delivery of systems for Comic Relief and Sports Relief for five years, and has provided IaaS for the Plus software system, which is used to speed up donation transactions made to the charity.

"Plus is essentially an application with a database on the back end, and you query the data base to bring back results," Sutherland said. "What we did was run 15 instances of Plus on 15 of these servers running SSD. We ran the system in mixed mode, so we had our traditional virtualised servers in case anything went wrong."

Sutherland said that although the trial was limited, it showed that HP's benchmark claims were achievable in practice.


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