Updated HP-UX OS Boosts Storage

Hewlett-Packard also plans on releasing two new servers, including a new blade based on its c-Class design and an entry-level Integrity system.

With an eye toward offering more storage and virtualization, Hewlett-Packard is gearing up to release the latest version of its HP-UX operating system.

HP-UX 11iv3 starts shipping to HPs customers on Feb. 15. In addition, HP is scheduled to unveil two new servers, the Integrity BL860c blade system and the Integrity rx2660, a traditional rack-mounted server designed for smaller businesses. The two servers will run on Intels Itanium processors.

"With these two new servers, we are focusing on offering volume, space and high-end capabilities with an entry-level server and a blade," said Nick van der Zweep, HPs director of virtualization and Integrity server software for HP, in Palo Alto, Calif. "With the latest version of HP-UX and these servers, we are allowing our customers to run mission-critical applications and offering virtualization improvements within a Unix operating system."

HP-UX, which the company updated with new security features in December, will now offer much larger storage capacities than found in previous versions of the operating system. HP-UX 11iv3 will allow up to 100 zettabytes of information—one zettabyte equaling a billion terabytes—to be stored.

In an interview, van der Zweep said that although its doubtful that any company needs that amount of storage, HPs engineers were trying to address the problems associated with new government regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

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"Its a lot of storage," van der Zweep said. "There is a lot of concern about government regulations, especially around compliance, and a lot of our customers have started to think about storage these days."

The latest version of HP-UX also includes HPs VSE (Virtual Server Environment), which enables companies to scale resources, allowing them to partition servers and create virtual infrastructures within the data center.

The operating system will include VSE Reference Architectures for Oracle, SAP software, and HPs own application server and database software. The new version of HP-UX also allows hot-swap and online patching capabilities as well as improved I/O abilities.

With all these new additions, van der Zweep said HP-UX 11iv3 will offer 30 percent better performance compared with older versions. HP will offer its customers free upgrades if they already have older versions of HP-UX.

Analysts with Gartner and IDC say HP has worked to improve flaws in its Unix operating systems in much the same way that Sun Microsystems improved its Solaris 10 OS.

"It looks like they uncovered some hot spots and worked to fix those," said Paul McGuckin, an analyst with Gartner.

Like previous versions of HP-UX, McGuckin said the new version will appeal to Fortune 500 companies that have migrated from mainframe servers to smaller systems, and those companies that run large and critical databases using Oracle and SAP software.

McGuckin also said HP has to continue to improve the virtualization capabilities within HP-UX, since HP remains one of only a handful of companies that creates this type of operating system. IBM is another, and is offering new virtualization capabilities specifically designed for its mainframe servers.

Al Gillen, an analyst with IDC, said that since HP has only used Itanium architecture for a short time, the company has worked enhance the operating system on this platform. "My take is that we are really looking for the maturation of the OS on this architecture, and thats the biggest piece of the story," Gillen said. "The virtualization enhancements are also very important."

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HPs two new servers are intended to complement the release of HP-UX. The new Integrity BL860c server blade, based on the companys BladeSystem c-Class blade architecture, falls into HPs "blade everything" stance that looks to use this form factor across a wide range of products, said Markus Berber, an Integrity blade strategist with HP. The system is being marketed to companies that need servers for database applications and scientific computing. HP is offering the blade with either a single-core Itanium that runs at 1.6GHz and offers 6MB of cache, or two dual-core Itanium options, one 1.6GHz chip with 18MB of cache and another chip that runs at 1.4GHz and has 12MB of cache.

The blade offers up to four processing cores that can support up to 48GB of memory and can be bundled with a number of operating systems, including HP-UX and Linux from Red Hat or Novell SUSE. In the second half of 2007, the company will also offer Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and OpenVMS.

The other server, the HP Integrity rx2660, is being marketed as a entry-level rack-mounted server that sits at a height of 2U (3.5 inches). The server, which also comes in a pedestal form factor for easier storage in a small office, can use either the HP-UX, Microsoft Server 2003, Linux or OpenVMS operating system. The server comes with the same Intel Itanium processor options as the blade. It offers a hard drive of up to 146GB and 1.168TB of storage.

The starting price of the BL860c blade is $3,827 and the rx2660 is $4,931. The blade server will start shipping in March but the rack-mounted server is available now.

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