HP upgrades server line to ease virtualization

HP updated its HP-UX platform along with its Intregrity server line Thursday, offering guidelines and features designed to ease the process of virtualization in enterprise data centres.

The company said its version of the Unix OS, HP-UX 11i v3, would also offer features to help more effectively secure and manage business intelligence and data warehousing applications along with its virtualization capabilities. The launch coincided with the introduction of the Integrity rx2660 entry-class server, which is designed to work with its BladeSystem c-Class series of products and is also designed for virtualized environments.

Virtualization refers to technology that allows IT managers to run multiple “instances” of a software application on a single machine. 

Mary Ellen Lewandowski, director of HP-UX marketing, said the OS was designed and developed with the same team working on the Integrity hardware, which improves the ability of the two to work in virtual environments. HP will also be providing customers a series of reference architectures on how to deploy virtual servers based on its products.

“They’re kind of like cookbooks,” she said, adding that there are examples using applications from BEA, SAP and Oracle application server products, among others. “Depending on what kind of environment they have, we can help them through it.”

HP Integrity blade strategist Markus Berber said the rx2660 includes double chip sparing, which protects the memory from double bit-rate errors. Other products rely instead on memory mirroring, which is much more expensive, he said. The system can be powered by six different processor combinations and will be available in rack-optimized versions for data centre environments or pedestal versions with reduced acoustics for offices.

“One of our engineers said even contortionists are not as flexible as this entry-class server,” he said.

IDC Canada infrastructure analyst Jason Bremner said HP’s Unix strategy probably won’t do much to encroach on Windows server market share, but that’s not the point.

“What it’s doing is making HP-UX easier to do some things around virtualization,” he said. “It signals that they believe this architecture is going to be around a long time.”

HP has long partnered with Intel on the latter’s Itanium platform, and despite sluggish results so far, Bremner said HP-UX on Itanium is the likely long-term successor to PA-RISC, which the company began phasing out several years ago.

“Those things take time to propagate throughout any one organization,” he said. “We’re not talking about something with a three-year cycle for replacement.”

Berber said the rx2660 includes eight internal disk drives and will accommodate up to 32GB of memory and a maximum of 64 virtual machine copies.

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