"[Linux] represents a sizeable opportunity for the architecture," said Stephen Bacon, Linux Integrity business manager for HPs Business Critical Servers unit.
There already are 2,300 Linux applications that support Itanium, and analyst firm IDC ranks Itanium as the second-most popular server architecture for Linux, after x86, Bacon said.
HP is looking to bring greater reliability features to Integrity systems running Linux, such as the ability to deallocate components before there is a failure and the system crashes, he said.
Scalability is also a development focus, particularly with Montecito on the way, as well as enhancements in chip-set design. HP in March introduced its "Arches" chip set for the Integrity line.
However, some analysts say Windows will be more important to future growth. IDC, in Framingham, Mass., found in a survey that the awareness of Itanium among enterprise users was greater than expected, and is predicting that the Itanium market will grow from $1.4 billion in 2004 to $6.6 in 2010.
But, IDC analyst Matthew Eastwood said, as Itanium workloads shift more to high-end enterprise applications, so will the growth of Windows on the architecture. In 2005, Unix—mostly HP-UX—accounted for 57 percent of all Itanium workloads, followed by Linux at 19 percent and Windows at 16 percent. By 2009, IDC expects those percentages to be 51 percent Unix, 17 percent Linux and 26 percent Windows.
The operators of the Boston Marathon illustrate this trend. In 2005, organizers used an HP Integrity system running Linux applications to create and deliver alerts throughout the race, while another Integrity server ran the SQL Server 2000 database.
For 2006, organizers continued using the Integrity system for the back-end database, but used x86 ProLiants for the runner alerts, said John Burgholzer, technology coordinator for the marathon. The Integrity system worked well for that job last year, but seemed like overkill for the work, Burgholzer said. The ProLiants were capable of handling the job of tracking the runners, while the Integrity systems were better utilized handling the massive amounts of hits on the database during the race.
"On race day, we got 10 million hits, mostly in the 6 hours [of the race], so we get our databases hit pretty hard," he said. "We used Integrity [with the database] because of the high volume of hits on it."
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