Rethinking the UPoE value proposition


First, full disclosure: I am an HP Networking employee. All of the opinions comments and general snarkiness in this blog are my own though. I am writing this from my own personal perspective, not as an HP employee, but I think it's important that anyone reading this knows that I do have some skin in the game, at least in the big picture.

 

So a couple of weeks ago, I was having a conversation with someone at an HP event about VDI, UPoE, Thin Clients etc.. and I said “Yes! We've been talking to customers about the total solutions for Months! ”

Not many people realize how truly broad the HP portfolio is when you look at the entire company. So we have been talking for months about the ability to put together a complete VDI solution from HP.

Basically, you pick your flavour of Virtualization and then pick the appropriate Virtual System configuration. For those of you who don't know, Virtual System is an HP validated configuration specifically for different virtualization workloads. You do have options, either Xenserver on Hyper-V or VMWare View.

Then you can choose the appropriate HP Networking switch for your infrastructure, then you just need to attach one of the HP Thin Clients to connect your users to your applications.

So what does this have to do with rethinking the value prop of UPoE. When I first saw the 60 Watts per port blades that Cisco released on the 4500E last year, I thought

” Wow… I wonder how hot those cables will be?”

After I got past that though, I started thinking about what applications or devices would start to appear in the market to take advantage of these new capabilities? There were some examples out there, but I've noticed something interesting in the last year: Devices are using LESS power, not MORE power.

Do you remember when 802.11n access points first came out? They were one of the first devices that actually justified powering up to 803.3at devices. If you wanted 11n, you needed either power injectors or AT switches. Fast forward and today you can buy 3×3 MIMO with 3 spacial stream access points that will work on 11af Poe ports @ 15.4 watts or less. That's right, they will work on the same switches that you've probably had for years. No need to upgrade your infrastructure to support a new device. Just buy the new access points, get more throughput on your wireless and life is good.

The HP t410 All-in-one Thin Client

So a couple of weeks later, I was invited to a meeting with someone from the personal systems group division of HP to talk about how we had been evangelizing the products and then amazingly… he offered me a HP t410 AIO unit to play with!

I, of course, said

Heck yeah!!!

One week later, a couple of customer meetings and a skeptical twitter conversation, and it seems there's a lot of interest on the t410 at the moment. Mostly around the disbelief that anyone could get an all-in-one Thin client to actually run below 15.4 watts!

So I have collected some pictures of the experience to show you how easy this thing was to setup which was SILLY easy. I didn't include a picture of the box, but I think we've all seen an 18″ monitor and the link above also had some nice pictures of the unit. It's got a small foot print and a nice screen.

So without further ado…

1) Here's a picture of the Unit's Model Name. ( This was the last picture I took, but it's the one I have with the model name ).

Image 12

2) After I took it out of the box and plugged it into an old 3Com 4120 9 port PoE switch ( it's what I had ).

I got the following login page. From what I've read, if I had a “real” vdi solution that was broadcasting it's services, it would automatically detect the connection type and then connect to the server broadcasting the available sessions I think – No VDI in my home lab ( yet ) though so I get to manually select which type of VDI I would like to connect to. ( I chose RDP7 for a window 2008R2 server)

Image

3) It now prompts me for the Server name or address.

Image 1

4) I put in my username and password. ( I didn't need the other options ) and seconds later, I'm logged in.

Image 3

 

Pretty cool, right? (I'll save you the screen cap of a windows server desktop. ). I didn't get to test out the internal speakers since the VM I was connecting against had no sound cards.

 

So what about the PoE part? This is the awesome part.

Screen Shot 2012 09 28 at 10 10 54 PM

 

yup. That's right 10.6 watts while fully operating. Max of 13 watts, Average of 10.9 watts. Can you see why I question UPoE? Somehow the guys in the PC division at HP actually managed to put together a full all-in-one thin client with monitor and left JUST enough power for the keyboard, mouse, and the speakers as well ( I presume on the last one, never tested it ).

Caveats

Are the tradeoffs here? Of course! I've only playing with this for a few hours now, but so far. It's great. No issues at all. According to the data sheet, there are a few things that you will sacrifice in PoE mode though.

Specifically, there's the speed drop from Gig to 10/100. But in the case of a thin client, most of the streams are less than 2Mb +/-, so the whole speed drop is PROBABLY not going to cause anyone any issues.

The other thing, which I haven't experienced, is that the screen brightness will actually come down in the event that there's not enough power budget left on the switch to be able to fully power the unit.

 

Final Thoughts

This is a nice unit. It's got a small foot print. Nice screen. The out-of-box setup was extremely easy and the fact that it only draws 13 watts of power ( I'm using the max draw value I saw ) is absolutely AMAZING to me. It would have been easy for HP to start making Thin Clients that consumed more and more power to try and drive customers into purchasing new switches. Instead, HP threw some engineers at the problem and instead came out with a product that will work in customers existing environments without a costly upgrade.

As an HP Networking pre-sales engineer, I have to say it would be nice to have another reason for our customers to upgrade their switches, but as a human being, it makes me proud to work for a company that does the right thing for their customer and the environment.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Rethinking the UPoE value proposition

  1. Thanks for this writeup, Chris! Awesome! Greg Reese @ Citrix was the guy who kept telling me about them, but until I saw it “for real”, I wouldn’t believe it.

    Of course, all of this really good factual data, and I’m hung up on the fact that you could not spell “interface” right. 🙂

    Thanks for this!

    1. ROFL Yeah… I went back through this and couldn’t believe how bad the spelling was. I was just so excited that I pushed publish and then had to go back and edit MULTIPLE times. 🙂

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