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HP Expands Virtual Reach With Integrity

By David Needle (Send Email)
Posted Sep 13, 2005


HP is enhancing the value of its Itanium-based Integrity servers and HP 9000 series based on PA-RISC with several new virtualization features. Additions to Integrity Servers, also planned for HP-UX, Windows Server 2003 and Linux.

The new releases are designed to simplify the management of virtual servers and speed implementation of virtualized environments, which give IT managers the ability to consolidate servers. HP had planned to roll out a number of announcements at its HP Technology Forum user conference in New Orleans this week, but Hurricane Katrina scuttled those plans.

Moving forward without the conference, HP announced it plans to expand the virtual machines capability in its Integrity servers, which allow multiple operating system instances to share a single CPU as well as I/O resources, to HP-UX 11i later this year. Support for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Linux is planned for next year.

The new HP Integrity Essentials software plugs into HP Systems Insight Manager 5.0 for a unified infrastructure management of both virtual and physical systems for HP Integrity and Proliant servers.

David Grant, data center manager at Mitel would have preferred to buy Integrity servers in 2003 when his company needed to upgrade its servers, but the virtualization features he wanted weren't available so the company went with HP 9000 servers running SAP among other applications. As part of its purchase deal at the time, he said HP is upgrading some of the systems to Integrity which Grant is looking forward too.

"There was an immediate benefit to virtualization," Grant told . "We went from 12 servers in two data centers to two servers in one data center and no performance hit."

Customers like Grant can look forward to the newly enhanced Workload Manager software that offers "unparalleled" integration, according to Nick van der Zweep, director of virtualization and utility Computing at HP. "You can pull the plug on one node, and the production system keeps on running, drawing from another system automatically because the workload manager knows how to move resources around."

While HP pushes the features and cost benefits of virtualization to entice new customers, van der Zweep said there are cultural and political issues that can hinder adoption despite the promise of "phenomenal savings." Even a technology leader like HP had trouble getting buy in from its own IT management.

HP has hundreds of instances of BEA Weblogic software it could consolidate on fewer servers with virtualization. "We were looking at saving a lot of money," said van der Zweep. "And when we need to expand, we would be able to add Weblogic to a virtual server in 24 hours or less and not have to wait for a new [physical] server to be installed.

"To install BEA on a virtual server was $7,000 versus $10,000 to put it on a new server, but the [IT managers] wanted to stick with the proven $10,000 solution. Then we dropped the price to zero, and they still wanted to pay $10,000 for a new server."

Finally, HP's controller insisted the department adopt virtualization. After six months of proven benefit, the price was reset to $7,000 and, according to van der Zweep, is now in high demand. "No one wants to be the guinea pig, but once we proved the value, everyone wanted it."

Intel and HP, co-developers of the Itanium, have been pushing hard to promote Itanium systems at the high end of the server market.

Development on the 64-bit processor began in the mid-1990s. Where it was once envisioned as a successor Intel's Pentium, Intel (which later took over sole development responsibilities for Itanium) has positioned it for the high end of the server market where it competes with IBM and Sun among others.

"HP is the Unix vendor that drove this trend toward virtualization in the mid-90s, so they've been working on it for some years but haven't always marketed it effectively," Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst at Illuminata told internetnews.

"By finally getting this onto Integrity, HP's playing a bit of catch up with Sun and IBM. But HP's done a really good job with the way it handles workload management, integrated with their clustering and tying it all into a single console."

Later this month Intel is slated to announce details of a new Itanium industry association that will provide resources for testing and facilitate porting of applications from other platforms to Itanium.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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