HP Faces New Realities in a 64-Bit World - Page 2

In addition, HP also is growing its Virtual Server Environment, or VSE, beyond HP-UX to include Linux, said Nick van der Zweep, director of utility computing in HPs Enterprise Systems Group. The move means that with the new Multi-OS VSE, HP will now be able to offer the virtualization and utility computing capabilities—such as partitioning, availability, utility pricing and management via its Global Workload Manager software—to its customers running Linux on its Integrity systems. HP also is working to bring full virtualization capabilities to Microsoft Corp.s Windows environment, van der Zweep said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifHP and IBM are mapping their Linux migration plans. Click here to read more.

The new version of VSE also will bring sub-CPU virtualization and dynamic resource allocation to the Integrity systems. Workloads can be assigned to fractions of a CPU, van der Zweep said.

In addition, HP will sell standard and mission-critical versions of VSE, with the mission-critical suite offering continuous availability.

All of these are designed to keep HP server customers with the company, or to bring in those looking for RISC/Unix alternatives—and officials say its working. For example, Lewandowski said a recent internal poll of 600 Alpha customers indicated that 98 percent are still buying systems from HP—either AlphaServers, Integrity or ProLiants—and that spending volume also has increased.

But a poll of 350 HP server customers by Interex, the HP user group sponsoring HP World, indicated some hesitation. Sixty-seven percent said HPs roadmap and product offerings over the past two years addressed core concerns of its customers, and 88 percent said they were satisfied with HPs products, support and services during that timeframe.

But only 16 percent said they intended to migrate to Itanium, and 9 percent already had started the migration. Forty-two percent said they had no plans to migrate in the next 18 months. In addition, 36 percent said they would consider an "in-between" system—ones that ran both 32-bit and 64-bit applications—rather than migrate directly to Itanium, although another 47 percent disagreed.

/zimages/4/28571.gifHPs revenue in servers and storage declined in its third fiscal quarter. Click here to read more.

The poll also indicated that users were deploying Xeon and PA-RISC systems two to three times more over the past year than Itanium systems, and that Opteron sales were creeping up on Itanium.

Michael McLaughlin, an analyst with Gartner Inc., said HPs 64-bit users eventually will fall into one of two categories—those who already use another 64-bit platform, or who need 64-bit computing now, and will lean toward Itanium; and those whose 64-bit demands were less and could look at Opteron or Intels Nocona Xeon chips.

Sixty-four bit extensions "allow people who were on the fence to go directly to 64[-bit]," said McLaughlin, in San Jose, Calif. "It allows them to port over time to 64-bit."

But Gartner also sees Itanium shipments continuing to grow, he said. In the first quarter this year, 6,300 Itanium-based systems were shipped. In the first quarter in 2005, that number should double to between 12,000 and 13,000, McLaughlin said.

Several customers said they were comfortable with HPs Itanium roadmap, enough so to make the move from other RISC systems to HP.

The Weather Channel Cos. jumped off Suns Solaris platform and onto HPs Integrity systems early this year. Kevin Gungiah, director of systems administration, said the key for his company was reducing the maintenance costs of the servers; those costs are about one-tenth of what The Weather Channel was paying previously, he said.

The company, based in Atlanta, is replacing 138 RISC processors with 42 Itanium chips in 19 two- and four-way Integrity systems, which also is improving performance and utilization while driving down licensing costs. The systems run Red Hat Inc. Linux 2.1 and 3.0.

When The Weather Channel was looking to migrate its infrastructure, Opteron was still new, and Intel had yet to release the 64-bit extensions for its Xeon processors, Gungiah said. That, combined with Itaniums availability and HPs commitment to it, persuaded the company to move to Integrity systems.

"HP had a strong product roadmap with Itanium," Gungiah said. "Opteron was just under way at the time."

The Weather Channel has spent about $200,000 in the first phase of the migration, and based on the performance of the Itanium-base systems, the second phase also will involve replacing RISC-based servers with Integrity systems, Gungiah said.

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