Now I can't say I've blogged much about HP server, simply because it's not been very exciting hardware. Dell and Sun have always had better products at better prices and have always been better to deal with.
Now recently, especially with the G5 series of it's Proliant line HP have some quite exciting and unique products. The one thing I've always liked with HP is that they've been a long term AMD Opteron supporter. The where the second big server vendor after IBM to launch Opteron based servers. The DL385 was unique at the time and served me well in a previous company I worked for. The following DL585 (4 sockets, 128Gb RAM max and 8x 2.5" SAS slots) is still a pretty ok Oracle server, the G2 version comes with a pretty cool front accessible CPU and memory drawer for easy upgrades and repairs is even better. But price wise it's on par with the Sun x4600, and the x4600 will let you scale to 8-sockets over of the 4-socket DL585.
The Intel equivalent, the DL580 offers front accessible memory access, CPU's are still top lid accessible.
Now with the Intel-based (dual and quad core Xeon 3000, 5000, 5100 and 5300 boxes) machines in the "G5" series we have a few pretty cool new features, the focus on 2.5" SAS drives is nice to see, Sun is going the same way but Dell is clinging on to 3.5" drives (probably to keep the price tag down), some Dell machines can be fitted with a 2.5" backplane (like the PE1950).
The DL360 makes a decent app server with two sockets and up to 32Gb RAM, nice 6 slot SAS backplane and the DL380 adds more PCI I/O and can take up to 8 drives.
Big brother (in the 2-socket famaily) is the ML370, this is a pretty large machine for a 2-socket box, 5U in the rack, but it makes a great VMWare server, loads of local disk (16 SAS slots), loads of I/O and can take a massive 64Gb RAM. Great for stand-alone Oracle deployments as well.
The smallest member in the 300-family is the DL320, pretty standard 1-socket Xeon 3000 machine (3.5" drives though), makes a decent webserver or network appliance.
Ok, now on to the reason I actually started getting excited about HP hardware again.
The recently introduced DL 320s hybrid data server (or "storage server").
It's pretty much the same as the DL320, but the "s" adds some pretty cool stuff. It can take 12 SAS or SATA drives. Which makes it a pretty interesting machine, one could say this is the "HP Thumper", the HP equivalent of the Sun x4500. It's not as big and impressive as the x4500 but it's still interesting. Applications like distributed data mining, data analysis and video processing fits like a glove on this box.
A few bad things about HP, everything is extra. The price you see is not the price you pay. The list price of a normal, say DL380, includes exactly what is listed. You even have to add the second sets of fans to get redundancy. Half the features in the iLO2 (remote management interface) require extra licenses to be activated. I think HP needs to re-think this. As it stands today I would not look at buying HP servers as generic servers, possibly if I have a project that require something only HP can offer (like a DL320s). It simply doesn't make sense financially.
If I want standard server, I go to Dell. If I want business critical servers, I go to Sun. It's as easy as that. If HP can offer competitive pricing I would not hesitate to at least evaluate deploying HP instead of Dell and in some cases Sun boxes.