HP to Unify Unix and x86 Server Architectures

By Thor Olavsrud (Send Email)
Posted November 23, 2011


On Hewlett-Packard's fourth quarter earnings call earlier this week, Chief Executive Meg Whitman promised to increase the company's investment in research and development and take a longer view on planning for the future. On Wednesday, the technology giant revealed part of that plan with an ambitious project it calls "Odyssey" that seeks to unify Unix and x86 server architectures used for mission-critical computing.

"Clients have been asking us to expand the mission-critical experience that is delivered today with HP-UX on Integrity to an x86-based infrastructure," said Martin Fink, senior vice president and general manager of Business Critical Systems at HP (NYSE:HPQ). "HP plans to transform the server landscape for mission-critical computing by using the flexibility of HP BladeSystem and bringing key HP technology innovations from Integrity and HP-UX to the x86 ecosystem."

HP said the new roadmap involves ongoing innovations to HP Integrity servers, HP NonStop systems and the HP-UX and OpenVMS operating systems. In addition, it includes the delivery of blades with Intel Xeon processors for the HP Superdome 2 enclosure (which HP has codenamed "DragonHawk") and the scalable c-Class blade enclosures (codenamed "HydraLynx"). It also plans to beef up Windows and Linux environments with innovations from HP-UX within the next two years.

The company noted that DragonHawk clients would be able to run mission-critical workloads on HP-UX on Intel Itanium-based blades while also running workloads on Microsoft Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Intel Xeon-based blades in the same enclosure.

"Project Odyssey in our view is the right vision and strategy but is long-term in nature and will take about two years to materialize," said Brian Marshall, IT hardware and data networking analyst with ISI Group. "We view this as another example in recent weeks of HP leverage strong internal assets (e.g., Integrity servers, NonStop systems, HP-UX, etc.) for compelling organic R&D (along with Project Moonshot for ARM servers and Folio13 ultrabook)."

HP said Odyssey will deliver a number of infrastructure improvements. It said DragonHawk symmetrical multiprocessing x86 systems will scale to hundreds of cores and support large, complex workloads, giving clients the ability to deploy workloads in a dynamic, highly scalable pool of IT resources. Meanwhile, HydraLynx will offer two-, four- and eight-socket scalable x86 server blades.

Other promised improvements include increased availability of critical Linux applications with the HP Serviceguard solution, better flexibility and availability of x86 systems with HP nPartitions technology for precise partitioning of system resources across multiple or variable workloads, and enhanced business continuity by embedding HP Analysis Engine for x86 into the system firmware.

"Amdocs' experience in implementing HP-UX/Integrity as a mission-critical platform for our market-leading BSS/OSS solutions at top global service providers has proven extremely positive," said Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president of Product and Solutions Marketing at Amdocs. "Extending HP Converged Infrastructure features to Linux on x86 will allow customers using the Superdome 2 architecture to benefit from the cost-effectiveness of x86, while leveraging the platform's strength, scalability and availability."

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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