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.

Server Design: Solving Real-World Customer Problems






Late last week,
I had the opportunity to spend some time on the phone with a customer who had a
large UNIX install base, but was considering HP and HP-UX 11i v3 for the first
time. The account team was on site, and obviously covered many more topics than
I did during my 45 minutes on the phone. However, I found the customer's
response to what I had to say quite interesting, and it got me thinking about
server design, and real-world customer problems.


 


While I covered
the whole software portfolio, the customer really had questions about two areas
- our high availability and disaster recovery portfolio, and our orchestration
capabilities
. In fact, I ended up going back to our orchestration products multiple
times, just to answer all of their questions. The customer was amazed that HP
Insight Orchestration, as part of our Converged Infrastructure, could automate
such a big part of their day to day provisioning process. To them, this would
help solve a huge operational problem - reducing the ongoing maintenance costs
as part of their overall it budget. This is something HP experienced - reducing
maintenance and operations from 70% of the IT budget and reducing it to around
30% of the IT budget. The first model was making IT unsustainable.


 


This got me
thinking about the what our customers ask for in new servers. Everyone expects
that the new servers will offer more performance than the previous generation.
Everyone expects that power consumption will drop. These are good
characteristics, but is that all the innovation you want from your server
vendor? A faster chip, but in the same old box - what comes to my mind when I see the new POWER 7 servers.? With the same old maintenance
issues? A vendor who makes great hardware, but looks at customers as support
annunities? A vendor who isn't invested in reducing maintenance as percentage
of your IT budget - solving the big IT problem?


 


Intel has
released their new Itanium 9300 processor, and HP will announce its new systems
within 90 days. My question: will they just be the same old servers, just with
a faster processor? Or will they be something more for mission critical
environments? Will HP take steps to help our customers dig out from their
maintenance costs? What are you looking for in these new servers?


 


Jacob


 

HP-UX 11i v3: The Results of Integrated by Design






Well, IBM has
announced their first Power 7 servers. They, like they have done in the past,
focused on a few key messages: performance, power efficiency, and system
management. They added details in a few other areas as well, but nothing
drastic beyond a more powerful processor and therefore more powerful systems.


 


Since Intel has
announced the Itanium 9300 processor (Tukwila), but HP hasn't announced its
server line up with these processors yet, doing a head to head hardware
comparison isn't appropriate at this time.


 


However, something
that is shipping today is the UNIX operating system that is supported on each
platform. Power 7 servers support AIX 6.1, and HP-UX 11i v3 is supported on
current and future systems.


 


While I've heard
more than once that people thought HP-UX 11i was dead, indeed, it is still
alive and well. Thanks to the work done by Gabriel Consulting, we have a good
idea of what customers value in each UNIX operating system.


 


From a HP-UX
11i v3 perspective
, particularly when comparing to AIX, a few things pop
out.


 


HP-UX 11i customers
tend to think more highly of HP's virtualization technology, particularly when
you include multi-system virtualization capabilities and management (for
instance, Global
Instant Capacity
and Insight-Dynamics
- VSE
). I wonder if that is perhaps because HP Integrity Servers and HP-UX
11i v3 offer multiple types of virtualization technologies, so customers can
pick the technologies that work best in their environment, and yet use the same
management console for any and all virtualization technologies?


 


This leads directly
to the second thing customers really appreciated about HP-UX 11i - the
simplified, single-pane-of-glass management and management automation. Tools
like HP
Systems Insight Manager
allow the management of physical and virtual
environments. IBM Director appears to offer similar capabilities, but the last
time I checked (and it's been a while), you often get to switch between
different tools (with potentially different log ins, etc.). HP has done the
hard work to truly integrate many of these products, and perhaps customers
actually appreciate it.


 


 The idea of integration continues to the next
reason customers prefer HP-UX 11i - integrated high availability, disaster
tolerance, and virtualization. Not only do all of these products work together
on HP-UX 11i v3, but HP offers a lot of application integration and support.
This includes scripts from the Enterprise
Master Cluster Toolkit, Serviceguard Extensions for SAP or Oracle
, and
Insight Dynamics - VSE
Reference Architectures that show you how to build
everything together and get it to work - quickly, easily, and with fewer
errors.




Overall, it appears that HP customers value the integration that HP designs
into HP-UX 11i v3 - whether the operating environments that simplify ordering
and license management, integrating add on products such as virtualization and
high availability, or the information on how to deploy it with common
applications much easier.


 


So, if you use HP-UX
11i, why do you like it? Any of the reasons above? Or do you have other reasons
for prefering HP-UX 11i?


 


Jacob


 

Performance Improvements that make a difference






With the
announcement earlier this week of the Intel Itanium 9300 processor, as well as
the IBM Power 7 processor, there was a lot of talk in the press and blogs about
system performance. Performance improvements are a good thing. They help you
process the ever increasing amount of information you need to handle, but with
smaller, more efficient, lower cost servers. Let's face it, a whole lot of the
tech industry is built upon the pursuit of Moore's law - doubling the number of
transistors every 18 months. Granted, despite the coverage this week, performance is usually not the only, or even most, important consideration when purchasing a server. There are a lot of other factors such as management, availability, virtualization, automation, and software stacks that play into the decision. However, since the talk this week is often around performance, let's go with that topic.


 


Performance is often, at least in the press, described by benchmarks. Having said
that, many people realize that even when it comes to performance,  it isn't performance benchmarks that matter,
it is the real-world performance of your application, in your datacenter, that
matters. So, in this week when performance seems to be the hot topic, here are
a couple of things you may have missed over the previous few months.


 


First, last fall, HP
rolled out a number of papers and webcasts around the 2009 Gabriel UNIX
research. Gabriel Consulting surveyed UNIX users from all three major vendors.
But despite what the benchmarks may suggest, it turned out that HP Integrity
and HP-UX users had the highest ratings for
real-world, observed performance
. While benchmarks are interesting, they
don't tell the whole story, as everyone knows.


 


The second thing
around performance that you may have missed was some
updates to HP-UX 11i v3
in September and November of 2009. In September
2009 there were updates to LVM, and in November 2009, there were updates to
VxFS and OnlineJFS. Direct I/O and Concurrent I/O are now supported, and they
drastically increase the speed of the file system. How much? Performance now
comes in around 96% to 99% of raw disks, but with the manageability of a file
system. One manufacturing customer who shared their results with us found that
their 6 hour batch job dropped to 2 hours after they implemented Concurrent I/O
around the New Year. Concurrent I/O definitely helps with workloads that have
both reads and writes.


 


This type of
performance upgrade absolutely helps with observed, real-world performance.
However, it often isn't reflected in benchmark results, which are often run on
systems tuned for peak performance, and not real-world, managed environments.  If you are running HP-UX 11i v3, you just
need to update. If you are running HP-UX 11i v1 or v2, this gives you another
incentive to upgrade to HP-UX 11i v3.


 


The best part? For
HP-UX 11i customers with support contracts, you can get this performance
improvement at no additional charge. No extra software license fees. No new
hardware. No migration costs. Now that is a performance improvement that really
pays off!


 


Jacob


 

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About the Author(s)
  • 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.
  • I’m the worldwide marketing manager for HP NonStop. I’ll be blogging and tweeting out news as it relates to NonStop solutions – you can find me here and on twitter at @CarolynatHP
  • Cynthia is part of the HP ExpertOne team. ExpertOne offers professional IT training and certifications from infrastructure refresh to areas that span across the datacenter like Cloud and Converged Infrastructure.
  • Hi, I work on the HP Servers team as HP-UX worldwide product marketing manager. I´m interested in how customers use our technology and will be blogging about their stories and on how our products evolve to help their businesses be always on.
  • 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.
  • Joe Androlowicz is a Technical Communications and Marketing manager in HP’s NonStop Product Division. Joe is a 25 year journeyman in information systems design, instructional technologies and multimedia development. He left Apple Computer for Tandem Computers to help launch G03 and hasn’t looked back yet. He previously managed the program management team for the NonStop Education and Training Center and drove the development and growth of the NonStop Certification programs.
  • Hello! I am a social media manager for servers, so my posts will be geared towards HP server-related news & info.
  • 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.
  • I am the Superdome 2 Product Manager. My interest is to learn how mission critical platform helps customers and would also like to share my thoughts on how Superdome has been helping customers and will continue to do so.
  • 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
  • I’ll be blogging about the latest news and enhancements as it relates to HP Moonshot.
  • 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.
  • As a Managing Consultant for HP’s Enterprise Solution & Architecture group, I collaborate with client business and IT senior management to understand, prioritize and architect advanced use of data and information, drawing insights required to make informed business decisions. My current focus leverages event-driven business intelligence design techniques and technologies to identify patterns, anticipate outcomes and proactively optimize business response creating a differentiated position in the marketplace for the client.
  • 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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