Guides NonStop 'Entry Level' Servers, Not an Oxymoron.

NonStop ‘Entry Level’ Servers, Not an Oxymoron.

HP Monday announced an entry-level server in its Integrity NonStop line, the high-availability servers descended from the Tandem line of servers. The new NS2000 is aimed at both emerging markets, looking for always-up performance and at existing Tandem customers with older hardware.

Entry-level doesn’t normally run $125,000, but HP is betting that the need for constant uptime will pay off for these descendants of the Tandem server.

The NS2000 server family is targeted at specific markets such as healthcare, financial services and telecommunications industries. One-third of customers already lined up are telcos, and HP has a special version of the server specifically for telco companies, according to Randy Meyer, director of NonStop product management.

In 2005, HP began the migration of the NonStop software platform from its old MIPS architecture to Intel’s Itanium platform. It chose Itanium because of its data integrity and RAS (reliability availability scalability) features.

“For years it was all proprietary, which was highly reliable but fairly expensive,” Meyer told Last summer, HP announced NonStop’s move to blades as well. All of the proprietary hardware was ditched except for the switch fabric to connect the blades. All of the software, middleware and applications, though, were brought over to Itanium.

“We’re getting good performance out of Itanium, and we’re getting what we need from ‘Intel’s’ roadmap,” Meyer said. The server uses the current dual core but can be upgraded to the quad core Tukwila generation when Intel ships it later this year.

The initial port of NonStop to Itanium was aimed at HP’s C7000 blade server, which has expandability to as many as 4,000 processors, all of which can be configured into a single system image.

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For those customers that don’t need the huge capacity of a C7000, the NS2000 offers a 32U rack with up to eight processors and up to 16GB of RAM per processor, plus all of the usual connectors (SAS, Fibre Channel and gigabit Ethernet). This especially applies to customers of the older Tandem servers, which are expensive to maintain.

“If they don’t have huge capacity growth that will drive them to a bladed infrastructure, we can do a consolidation play for them and take a system with 16, 24, or 36 processors, consolidate it on the NS2000 rack mount and reduce their hardware licensing costs every month, reduce their soft license costs every month and reduce your floor space by up to ten-fold,” said Meyer.

The NS2000 is also ideal for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and emerging countries where the infrastructure of banking and telecom systems are being built from scratch, and they are saying to HP “they want everything the big guys have, but at a smaller scale,” Meyer said.

The starting price is a princely $125,000 at list, with software bundles ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the apps, database and middleware. The NS2000 is available now, with a significant number of orders being fulfilled today.

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