HP's new NS2000 completes the company's multicore NonStop lineup of fault-tolerant servers by giving SMEs the same high performance that larger enterprises get, but for a lower price. The move by HP is the latest by vendors looking to bring their high-end hardware platforms to new customers, in particular smaller enterprises and emerging markets. In October, IBM rolled out the System z10 Business Class, aiming its low-cost mainframes at SMEs.
Hewlett-Packard is rolling out a new family of low-cost NonStop servers
aimed at emerging markets, consolidation projects, and small and midsize
The NS2000 systems, announced March 16, are designed to give these companies
cost-effective access to the high performance and fault tolerance of HP's
The move echoes what other vendors-in particular, IBM
with its mainframes
-have done in bringing their high-end hardware platforms
downstream to SMEs (small and midsize enterprises).
Among the benefits of the 2U rack-mount NS2000 systems are 24/7 access to
data, a platform on which HP NonStop BladeSystem users can build a test and
development environment, and a migration path to larger NonStop systems
The systems are powered by the latest dual-core Itanium processors from
Intel, the 9100 series, and integrated hardware and software, which provide
application fault tolerance within a single box. The NS2000s complete HP's
multicore NonStop offerings.
A key to the news servers is the compatibility they offer, said Randy Meyer,
director of NonStop product management for HP's Business Critical Systems. They
run the current dual-core Itanium chips, and will be able to run the quad-core
and eight-core Itaniums when they come out, Meyer said.
Companies have a choice of four- and eight-core hardware base bundles, with
8GB or 16GB of memory per processor. There also are AC- and DC-powered
In addition, the NS2000s are software-compatible with other, larger
NonStop systems, he said. The only difference is the NS2000s don't scale as
high as the larger NonStops do. At just more than $100,000, an NS2000
box gives SMEs the same capabilities that larger enterprises pay millions for
in bigger boxes.
"The smaller guys are looking for the same capabilities," Meyer said. "For
instance, hospitals. The smaller ones have the same needs as the bigger ones.
They want 100 percent fault tolerance."
The servers also offer economic advantages in power, space and cost savings,
an important consideration for companies struggling through the recession, he
"New products, new applications, new -whizzy' features are tough to sell
because people are hunkering down," Meyer said.
HP's move with the NS2000s mirrors what IBM
is doing with its System z mainframes. IBM
in October unveiled the System z10 Business Class mainframe, a lower-cost and
smaller version of its $1 million System z10 released in February 2008.
Starting at $100,000, the System z10 Business Class is targeted at smaller
enterprises and midsize companies looking to consolidate workloads-particularly
Linux workloads-off multiple x86 systems. And like HP, IBM
views the smaller mainframes as a way of expanding its customer base, including
in emerging markets such as Eastern Europe, the Middle
East and Africa.
In a similar vein, Stratus Technologies officials are hoping that the free
they started offering with their Intel-based
fault-tolerant ftServers March 9 will persuade some SMEs to buy their
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said technology starting out
on the high end and then cascading down to smaller companies has been a
common theme in the IT industry over the past four decades. In IBM's
case, bringing the System z mainframes to smaller enterprises has opened up new
markets, particularly in places like China
and India, as
well as with older mainframe users who aren't planning to expand to the more
expensive System z10, King said.
"I expect that HP has similar, older NonStop customers who [the vendor] can
keep with [the NS2000]," he said. "Moving downstream gives [HP] the ability to
engage these customers."
Both IBM and HP have been able to drive
their high-end systems down to the SME level by leveraging more standardized
hardware, which in turn has enabled them to keep their development costs for
hardware low and to innovate on the software and pricing, said Gordon Haff, an
analyst with Illuminata.
In HP's case, the real step forward for the NonStop systems-which HP
acquired when it bought Compaq in 2002 for $19 billion-came when it
standardized the platform on Intel's Itanium processor, Haff said. Doing that
freed up HP to find ways to bring the NonStops to a larger audience.
"Until they could put NonStop on a relatively [high] volume platform ... it
would have been very difficult to mainstream NonStop," he said.