Hardware Today: HP Server Snapshot
March 8, 2005
In addition to keeping its ProLiant line fresh, HP continues to make over its Integrity server family. It has added faster Itanium 2 Madison processors, expanded the high-availability and disaster recovery features for HP-UX 11i and Microsoft Windows Server 2003, and integrated virtualization capabilities across multiple operating systems. It has also introduced pay-per-use features to Windows-based Integrity systems (i.e., additional resources can be added as needed by turning on an additional processor and paying only for what is used). HP plans to add blades to its integrity line in the near future.
"Integrity blades are being introduced, as some customers want Itanium performance or HP-UX functionality in blade servers," said O'Neill.
The flagship Integrity product is the Superdome, which has been running on Itanium 2 for several releases now. The Superdome is aimed at large-scale mission-critical workloads. The top-of-the-line model on Integrity uses the 1.6 GHz Itanium 2 processor with up to 9 MB of L3 cache or mx2 dual-processor modules. It can run HP-UX 11i v2, Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition, and Linux. An OpenVMS version is scheduled to be released by early 2006.
Another big shift in the Integrity world is the phase-over of OpenVMS from AlphaServer to Integrity. This is not a minor announcement to appease a few customers. The OpenVMS/Alpha franchise represents about $2 billion in annual revenue from hardware, software, and services for HP, so much care is going into Integrity to make sure this loyal user base remains in the fold.
The HP NonStop arena doesn't have nearly as much momentum. Although it is still MIPS-based, it won't be for much longer. Again, Itanium 2 is the preferred processor.
According to O'Neill, a NonStop Itanium release is scheduled for the middle of the year.
Meanwhile, HP has gone out of its way to ease the migration from Alpha and HP 9000 to Integrity. It has developed code merges so customers can run HP-UX on either the HP 9000 or Integrity server. The transition of VMS users from Alpha to Integrity is said to be similarly painless.
"OpenVMS on Integrity is a case of seamlessly assimilating a new processor, not using a high-tech shoehorn to force an old architecture into an ill-fitting shoe," said Bob Gezelter, a software consultant from Flushing, New York who has tested the new platform.
HP expects the 9000 and AlphaServer to stay in general use for some time and intends to support both through at least the end of the decade. It plans to continue selling the servers for the next year or two.
A key part of HP's strategy, and one it believes differentiates it from its competitors, is a focus on value-added elements aimed at better manageability. The HP ProLiant Essentials Intelligent Networking Pack enables ProLiant servers to adapt to and change their network path to achieve maximum reliability and performance. Another feature, the HP Power Regulator, enables customers to save on server power and cooling costs by operating the CPU at lower frequency and voltage during periods of reduced activity.
"We also have the Systems Insight Manager that manages all servers with one view," said O'Neill. "It is designed for ProLiant and Integrity servers, and will be extended to NonStop later."
What about interoperability with non-HP servers? O'Neill says Systems Insight Manager can identify other systems on the network but does not manage them to the same degree as HP servers.
In terms of virtualization, the HP Server Migration Pack eases migration to virtual servers based on VMware or Microsoft Virtual Server. Similarly, HP's Virtual Server Environment (VSE) takes elements like utility pricing, workload manager, and partitioning, and integrates them for Integrity servers. The HP BladeSystem line, too, has been virtualized to simplify data center management.
"We have added features to manage blades for greater virtualization and resource allocation," says O'Neill. "HP will continue to add value to its servers by extending their manageability and virtualization capabilities."