Bullish on Opteron
64-bit computing should be a boon for several of Townsend’s applications — most obviously SQL Server, for which Akeson is awaiting a version that supports the new architecture. HP’s release of Opteron servers generated much interest, as Opteron “has really good 32-bit performance and most of our software is 32-bit at this point,” Akeson said. “[Opteron’s] absolutely the correct choice for us in terms of asset longevity, and fortunately, HP came around and actually offered an AMD 64-bit product, which from all of our testing, is absolutely incredible at running 32-bit code.”
The Intel Nocona chip, while worth “a try,” is less appealing to Akeson at this time, given that “the AMD product is here now.” Townsend has no plans to replace all of its IA-32 products with Opteron; rather, it will gradually work the performant AMD chips into its operations in a “slow process.”
Surviving a Crash
From a support perspective, Townsend’s experience with HP has been completely positive. It has opted not to rely on a 24×7 support contract with HP. To minimize the damage of an after-hours crash, “I keep two or three of everything that might blow up,” Akeson said. “If you have that many servers, things are going to blow up occasionally, and that seems to work out really well for us,” he added.
Should the server room equivalent of Black Monday strike Townsend, however, an HP sales engineer is available to lend a hand. Akeson also notes that HP has been “really generous” about lending other engineers to tackle those elusive bears when they crop up.
With its improved attempts to keep up with the technology curve in recent years, HP has outperformed the wish list of admins like Akeson. “They’ve continued to be a solid vendor, but they’re also more bleeding-edge now,” he said. Akeson cites HP’s bolstered SAN offerings and cheerfully reiterates its Opteron additions as examples. He is also looking forward to HP’s foray into the 64-bit blade space, which is scheduled to occur before 2005 in Opteron form.
HP’s close read of the market has helped customers like Townsend remain bullish about their relationship. By keeping an ear to the ground and an eye on the big board, the vendor has held on to, and expanded, its customer base.