HP introduces Butterfly Flexible Data Center design, reducing CAPex by 50%

OK, my Microsoft past haunts me.  HP introduces a "butterfly" data center design and I think of the MSN butterfly.

HP's butterfly looks different than MSN's, and I doubt we'll see an HP data center staff in a butterfly outfit, but the building does look like a butterfly.

HP Flexible DC “butterfly” design

HP Flexible DC is based on a “butterfly” design featuring four prefabricated quadrants, or modules, that stem off a central administrative section. The offering uses industrial components to improve cost efficiencies as well as a streamlined building process with a variety of options for power and cooling distribution.


Joking aside I was able to talk to Kfir Godrich, CTO of HP critical infrastructure.

“Clients, such as financial service providers, government entities, and cloud and colocation hosts, will find the scalable and modular nature of HP Flexible DC a compelling option,” said Kfir Godrich, chief technology officer, Technology Services, HP. “HP can help clients innovate the way they build and operate a greenfield data center for greater savings over its life span.”

I am writing this blog post before the official release, and I will update this blog with the press release link.

HP Flexible Data Center Reduces Clients’ Upfront Capital Investment Requirements by Half, Optimizes Resource Use

Design delivers flexibility, lowers carbon footprint

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 27, 2010

HP today introduced a new way for clients to cut capital investment requirements for the design and build of data centers in half while significantly decreasing their carbon footprint.(1)

The patent-pending HP Flexible Data Center (HP Flexible DC) offers a standardized, modular approach to designing and building data centers that allows clients to replace traditional data center designs with a flexible solution that can be expanded as needed while conserving resources.

Some facts that data center folks will care about are:

  • 3.2 MW is the overall capability of the total butterfly building.
  • Each of the modules is 800 kW which you can deploy in a partial deployment, supporting 800, 1600, 2400, and 3200 kW increments.
  • The central core is shared building support space for the four modules.
  • You can use multiple 3.2 MW deployments for a campus approach like below


  • PUE is in the 1.2 - 1.25 range.
  • The design is modular to support multiple power and cooling systems, using multiple vendors while maintaining a high degree of integration across the systems.
  • Total square footage for a 3.2 MW configuration is 25,000.
  • Removing complexity in the system increases availability, efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

Here are images from the official presentation.

The one slide I would add if I was creating the presentation is "Why a new Data Center design?" where HP explained problems it sees customers having and then how Flexible DC creates a new approach to DC design.


Modularity and of the system to support 800kW increments.  BTW, Kfir said you could deploy a 400 kW configuration instead of 800kW.


To support a low PUE, hot air is exhausted through the roof.  Although in the images HP provided you can't see the roof system which lead me to think HP has a patent in process for the roof.  Note Yahoo patented its Chicken Coop design.  Kfir also made it clear the  design with 4 cooling methods can support deployments anywhere in the world, and where trade-offs can be made for when water is an expensive resource. 


Don't ask what Tier the design is.  It is designed for availability, energy and cost efficiency, not to meet a Tier standard.


I've been spending more time thinking about how you present data center issues to the CFO and so has HP.


There were six things that impressed me

  1. The amount of topics Kfir and I could cover in 25 minutes.
  2. The quality of the presentation and information that HP has in the Flexible Data Center Solution.  They can use this same presentation for CxO and data center geeks.  Although I would add a Why change data center design slide.  On the other hand criticizing decisions people have made in the past could upset some the audience and make them defensive, so being on the safe side I can see HP's choice for not calling out what is wrong with data center design.
  3. A focus on the supply chain.  If you are going to use HP's approach you could efficiently add data center capacity every year or more often.  This approach like a Just In Time manufacturing approach reduces the data center building inventory now that you could add additional space in as little as 3 months.  The current approach of building for 5 years of data center needs now turns into what do you need in 3 - 6 months.
  4. This is going to get a lot of people thinking about how they approach data center capacity.  How many were trying to save 10% in data center construction, and HP says hey you can save 50%?
  5. Building in smaller increments allows management to see data center building costs on a regular basis.
  6. The Butterfly Flexible DC design is a good alternative for Cloud Computing.


As HP's Flexible DC hits the market it will be interesting to watch the media coverage and customer interest.  I've already talked to my friends to tell them HP's Butterfly Flexible Data Center is something they should look at.

Five years ago who would have thought HP would have Data Center PODs and Flexible Data Centers?