Mission Critical Computing Blog
Your source for the latest insights on HP Integrity, mission critical computing, and other relevant server and technology topics from the BCS team.

UNIX and Linux in the Datacenter


A number of years ago, I was working booth duty at Linux World in San Francisco. I believe that I was showing off the HP Virtual Server Environment for Integrity servers running Linux, now Insight-Dynamics - VSE for Integrity servers


At one point during the day, after a customer demo, one of the two people watching the demo started asking about HP-UX 11i, and UNIX in general. We talked about server virtualization for HP-UX for a bit, and then came the big question. Does UNIX have a future? Isn't Linux on x86 going to wipe it out?


My answer then, much as it is now, was that UNIX is a large, mature market, and that the existing vendors were going to keep innovating in that market for years to come. The revenues on non-x86 servers, at least back then, were roughly the same as for x86 servers, although the x86 server market was and is growing faster. Linux is going to grow, especially for new workloads.  However, UNIX will still deliver mission critical environments, especially for existing workloads, better than many of the operating systems typically found on x86 servers. I used server virtualization as a proof point: the UNIX environments were offering a variety of mission critical virtualization technologies that were not available on Linux at that time (such as dynamic hard partitions and instant capacity), and indeed, are still not available today. In other words, Linux was small and growing, but UNIX was big and stable, and would be around for years to come.


After the customer walked away, satisfied with the answer, the other person watching the demo spoke up. She worked on AIX, and commented that she was glad I got to answer that question, since she also had to answer it many times! We shared a laugh, and went our separate ways.


Now, years later, I still get the question on a regular basis, and my answer is still much the same. I keep speaking with sales reps, who are still making a living selling UNIX. I keep speaking with customers, who definitely want more UNIX servers, and are often wondering not whether or not to keep UNIX, but which UNIX vendor they should buy from (HP of course, since that is where I draw a paycheck <grin>).


In addition, we have the Gabriel Consulting Group reports on UNIX preference . Their report on UNIX is title UNIX: Alive, Well, and Strategic . In short, the report states something that many of us already know: In the datacenter, UNIX is still a go to choice for mission critical workloads, especially for large enterprise customers.


I look forward to working with those customers and sales reps for years to come.



OpenVMS 8.4 enters Field Test

Well, I'm catching up on my e-mail after spending a few days on the road. It seems that the last few days have been quite busy around here! I know that some readers of this blog run or work with OpenVMS, and I'm reminded that we often don't promote it enough. So, when there is an announcement, I guess I better get it out quickly!

The news today: OpenVMS 8.4 beta has been released for field testing . If you want to participate, you can get the register online. Once approved, you can download the release instead of having to order DVDs, as we have traditionally done. This is a good way to help the planet and get the latest code to test!

Some of the new features, according to an e-mail that I saw, include:

·         Cluster over IP

·         2 TB Volume Support 

·         Host-based volume-shadowing support for upto 6 shadow sets

·         Integrity RAD support

·         Performance and reliability enhancements

·         TCP/IP enhancements

·         Support of OpenVMS as a guest operating system with HPVM (Field test available shortly)

Details, as always, are available on the web site .


Transatlantic Training and Remembrance Day

Well, I'm at 36,000 feet and coming up on Fort McMurray (yes, I've been to Fort Mac) on a flight back from London on Remembrance Day .

As a Canadian, now living in the US (San Jose), I miss the minute or two of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. While I had just boarded the plane in London at 11 am and personally observed a few minutes of silence (with no one to talk to, it wasn't hard), it was great to see the whole terminal come to a halt for a few minutes from my window seat on the plane. We should never forget those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Why am I on my way back from London? November is the start of a new fiscal year at HP, and after a tough 2009, we're getting out at least a little to provide training for our sales forces around the world. There are two main goals - inform and invigorate! If you are a HP customer, ask your specialist sales rep what they learned, what's new, and perhaps even what is coming up this year.

As always, spending time with sales reps from around the world is always a lot of fun and a great way to share, but also a great way to learn about what is happening with customers. While I get to speak to a dozens of customers every year through the HP Executive Briefing Center, the opportunity to speak to dozens of sales reps gives me a much broader understanding of what is happen with our customers.

Not a surprise after this past year, many of our customers are doing what HP did - do what you need to to survive 2009. However, there seems to be optimism that 2010 will be a much better year.

One of the other themes that came up time and time again was productivity, and helping customers move from spending a lot of time and effort on maintenance to spending the majority of their time and effort on new development and enhancements which make their business more productive. Whether it is through management (ex. HP SIM -http://h18013.www1.hp.com/products/servers/management/hpsim/index.html), further server automation of both physical and virtual environments (ex. Insight Orchestrator - http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/solutions/insightdynamics/provision.html), capacity planning (ex. Capacity Advisor -http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/solutions/insightdynamics/optimize-capacity.html), or many other ways, the biggest inhibitor tends to be that people are just too busy maintaining their existing systems to invest the time to implement the technologies that would make them more efficient. In many cases, our customers have even purchased the licenses or HP has provided it as an update to an existing license, such as with the enhancements to the HP-UX 11i v3 Operating Environments .

One example: I asked our sales reps how long it took their customers to provision a new server once a request was received. Many of the sales reps said weeks to months. One sales rep said 5 minutes. His customer is using their time much more efficiently than most of the customers the sales reps in the room work with. I'm sure it took the customer an investment of time and energy to get to that point. I know that it took HP a significant investment in process re-engineering to go from provisioning 1 server a day to being able to do ~100 per day, with the same number of people. However, that effort makes the customer, as well as HP in our case, more competitive.

So, if customers don't have the time to invest in the technologies and processes that would reduce their maintenance efforts, how can we help them get there? Should we provide more compelling business cases (although we try to do that already)? Do we bring in HP Technology Services to help our customers implement these technologies? Or do we just let our customers use their existing processes, even if they aren't efficient? Or is lack of time just an excuse for other reasons that they don't want to implement additional management technologies? Your thoughts and ideas are appreciated.


Farewell VSE; Hello ID-VSE

It is announcement day here at HP , so there are a large number of new and updated products, services, and visions to take a look at. Many people in the Business Critical Systems group, and actually across Enterprise Servers and Networking, have been working on the new Converged Infrastructure Architecture .

Converged Infrastructure, in a nut shell, is about switching the IT budget from mostly maintenance and operations to mostly innovation and upgrades. Normally, this means moving to a shared service model, and naturally, with the announcement, there are products and services to help you get there. BCS, and all the OSes that we support, are part of the Converged Infrastructure strategy.

However, there was one little tidbit that I knew was coming that particularly hit home. Many years ago, on a Friday afternoon, I was speaking with my manager about her idea of bundling a bunch of our server virtualization products together, at least from a naming perspective. From that and a few other discussions, the HP Virtual Server Environment (VSE) was born. Virtualization became popular in the industry shortly thereafter, and I was busy for many years speaking with the sales force and many customers around the world about the VSE.

The idea around the VSE became popular enough, and the products effective enough, that we ported some of the management products to the x86 side, where they were named Insight Dynamics - VSE. While the product suites were somewhat different (ex. utilized VMware and MS Hyper-V on HP ProLiant servers and the HP Partitioning Continuum on HP Integrity servers), the reality is that we had two similar names for two similar suites of products on two separate product lines, and I can tell many firsthand stories about how much confusion it caused! I would be asked to do an ID-VSE presentation, and when I was prepared to speak about managing VMware, someone would mention that they only HP-UX servers, and vice versa.

So, with today's announcement, the HP Virtual Server Environment on HP Integrity servers is going away, and being replaced with HP Insight Dynamics - VSE for Integrity servers . While it is with a feeling on melancholy that I say goodbye to that Friday afternoon idea that grew bigger than any of us imagined, it is with great relief that I welcome the simplicity of one name - Insight Dynamics - VSE - onto the HP Integrity server family. The fact that ID-VSE has grown beyond what the VSE started as, is more capable, and is a key part of HP's Converged Infrastructure, makes this an exciting day for the many people who have worked on and often still are working on server virtualization and management technologies.


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  • • Responsible for product management and marketing of NonStop Database, Business Continuity, and Cloud portfolios. Define product line strategy, positioning, branding, and messaging for all products in my portfolio. • Lead the Business Development efforts to build strategic partnerships to strengthen the eco-system. • Lead the GTM around Big Data with new innovative Analytics solutions resulting in incremental revenue opportunities. • Lead product marketing efforts including strategic positioning, Go-to-Market strategy, Sales Enablement and Analyst Briefing.
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  • I work as a Master Architect in HP Servers R & D group. I work with teams spread across the lab and outside to build solutions which are highly available on HP-UX, OpenVMS and Mission Critical Linux platforms. In particular I contribute to develop HP Serviceguard clusters, HP-UX Security and Middleware products. I have been with HP for last 17 years and have exposure to HA/DR field from both R & D and customer perspectives.
  • Kirk Bresniker is the Vice President/Chief Technologist for HP Business Critical Systems where he has technical responsibility for all things Mission Critical, including HP-UX, NonStop and scalable x86 platforms. He joined HP in 1989 after graduating from Santa Clara University and has been an HP Fellow since 2008.
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  • Hi, I´m part of the HP Servers team and work as Product Marketing Manager with a focus on mission-critical offerings. I´m interested in the business value our technology brings to customers and I'll be blogging about their stories and how our portfolio evolves to help them succeed in today´s market.
  • I have worked with NonStop systems since 1982. I am a Master Technologist for HP and am part of the IT SWAT organization, the Cloud SWAT and work with HP Labs. I report into the Enterprise Solutions and Architecture organization.
  • HP Servers, Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and ExpertOne
  • Luke Oda is a member of the HP's BCS Marketing team. With a primary focus on marketing programs that support HP's BCS portfolio. His interests include all things mission-critical and the continuing innovation that HP demonstrates across the globe.
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  • I work in the HP Servers marketing group, managing a marketing team responsible for marketing solutions for enterprise customers who run mission-critical workloads and depend on HP to keep their business continuously running.
  • Mohan Parthasarathy is a Technical Architect in the HP-UX lab. His primary focus currently is in the core kernel, platform enablement and virtualization areas of HP-UX. Mohan has worked on various modules of HP-UX, including networking protocol stacks, drivers, core kernel and virtualization
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  • Greetings! I am on the HP Enterprise Group marketing team. Topics I am interested in include Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and Management, and HP BladeSystem.
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  • Wendy Bartlett is a Distinguished Technologist in HP’s NonStop Enterprise Division, and focuses on dependability – security and availability - for the NonStop server line. She joined Tandem in 1978. Her other main area of interest is system architecture evolution. She has an M.S. degree in computer science from Stanford University.
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