HP, Compaq Ease Linux Server Management

Hewlett-Packard will resell and co-brand Turbolinux's PowerCockpit server provisioning software with HP's Netservers and Blade server lines. Compaq will offer PowerCockpit with its server blades.

Linux continues its steady march to becoming a mission-critical, enterprise-ready operating system with the requisite applications Wednesday with the announcement that Hewlett-Packard Co. will resell and co-brand Turbolinux Inc.s PowerCockpit server provisioning software with HPs Netservers and Blade server lines.

PowerCockpit was released in early September 2001 and is designed to make it easier for users to automatically and easily deploy and provision their entire software environments to Intel-based Linux servers very quickly. It also enables the instant reconfiguration of computing systems.

While there will be a tight integration between PowerCockpit and HPs Blade servers, it was unclear at this stage whether HP would bundle the software or include it as a freestanding software option, according to Dino Brusco, a vice president at Turbolinux, in Brisbane, Calif.

It is a two-phase deal: firstly, HP will reference sell, or steer, its customers to the PowerCockpit software while working with Turbolinux to co-brand the product. The co-branded version was expected in the first half of this year.

"It is a tremendous validation of the product for HP to put their logo on it," Brusco said.

Turbolinux will also announce today that Compaq Computer Corp. will be offering its Linux-based customers the option of using PowerCockpit to deploy, configure, and redeploy individual servers and applications on the new Compaq ProLiant BL e-Class line of server blades.

These ProLiant BL e-Class servers are power-efficient, ultra-dense edge server blades engineered for the enterprise.

PowerCockpit will be an optional software offering and not preloaded on the Compaq servers. "This is one of several offerings that Compaq will have around its Blade server line and PowerCockpit will be offered for Linux applications on their ProLiant servers," Brusco said.

"With PowerCockpit, users can dynamically allocate these server software environments so they can be done on the fly," he added. "Using PowerCockpit technology an IT manager who has a datacenter with a server farm can allocate the server assets dynamically based on business needs. So this is a key element for enabling profitability in the datacenter arena.

"You can take the PowerCockpit technology and as your business requires more Web servers or financial modeling systems or Oracle [Corp.] database transaction systems you can dynamically allocate your current server assets using this technology," Brusco said.

Compaq and HP have rapidly adopted the PowerCockpit technology, Houston-based Compaq had a vision around the adaptive infrastructure while HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., was looking at the utility datacenter and the next generation of server farms and making servers easy to use and deploy, he said.

As the Linux operating system has advanced to the next level, its robustness and feature-rich capabilities have caused some difficulty and complexity in managing Linux-based servers. Technologies like PowerCockpit have helped IT managers reduce the cost of managing and deploying Linux servers, Brusco said.

Brusco claimed that Turbolinux had seen a number of end-user design wins, less than 100 at this point, in both the server provider and enterprise IT space. But he declined to give specific names at this point, saying these would be released over the next few weeks.

While the pricing of the PowerCockpit with the Compaq and HP servers would depend on how it was offered, the standard Turbolinux list price starts at $2,400 for the software and a license to manage 10 nodes, with, for example, a node being one blade in a server. Additional nodes are available at $180 each, Brusco said.

Turbolinux is also discussing PowerCockpit technology with all the other major server suppliers, including IBM, he said.

Pete Beckman, Turbolinuxs vice president of engineering in Santa Fe, N.M., said the focus for the PowerCockpit software going forward was to be cross-platform and support multiple operating systems. While the product currently only supports deployments of Linux-based software stacks it would in the future deploy stacks based on other operating systems like Windows and Unix.

"These products will definitely be available later this year as we have to meet the needs of our customers who have interest in Windows, IA 64 machines, Solaris machines and what they have in the datacenter. We have to provide solutions to the needs of our customers," Beckman said.

Customers also are looking at the datacenter and wanting all the pieces to be controlled with one simple platform, Beckman said. They are concerned about "reproducibility" – being able to replicate things in all geographical locations, especially with regard to security. Customers want the ability to apply a patch uniformly over all its systems, he added.

"PowerCockpit is the first step in this uniformity as we can deploy solution stocks to machines and distribute that uniformly," Beckman said.