The announcement a short time ago that HP plans to certify and resell Oracle's Solaris, Linux, and virtualization software on ProLIant servers comes as no suprise to those of us who have been watching the emergence and acceptance of HP's Converged Infrastructure strategy. No longer are customers comfortable with single vendor hardware and operating system solutions. With Solaris now available on Intel Xeon-based HP hardware, it provides customers one more reason to move to HP hardware.
Customers can now run HP-UX, Linux, Windows, Solaris, and OpenVMS on HP server blades. Combine that with the ability to consolidate, virtualize, and manage HP storage and networking, and the solution looks extremely effective.
Future Blog: HP continues to battle the proprietary monster
I have been watching with interest over the past few months to get some sign as to what Oracle will do with their newly acquired hardware architecture, SPARC, along with the Solaris operating system. In the process, I have noticed that several writers and bloggers have commented on Oracle's new licensing strategy for Solaris. The new licensing strategy is such that now you can't just download a Solaris 10 license and use it for free for as long as you want. You get to use it for free for 90 days only, then you need to pay for support. Gone are the days when you could pay for operating system support on 25 servers, but get support on all 100 servers you have on site.
For me, the writing is on the wall. It already makes sense from a TCO perspective to migrate your older SPARC servers to standards-based servers running Intel-based processors. Check out the Sun TCO Challenge and you'll see that you can reduce core counts by five to one or more by migrating to Integrity or ProLiant servers. I think that many Solaris/SPARC users were staying with the architecture because the ongoing software operational costs was pretty low. But I know that Oracle has vowed to make more profit out of the Sun acquisition, and this is definitely one of the ways to do it - through increased support costs to existing customers. Now, if you are running an older SPARC-based server environment, you now face unexpected operational costs. That means less money for innovation in your IT environment.
Keep your eyes on what Oracle does next with Sun/Solaris. If I was a customer running a SPARC-based server environment, I would think long and hard about the roadmap for this architecture. It may be time for you to take a look at servers and operating systems with a brighter future.
Since I often speak with customers in my role, I tend to run into some scenarios on a regular basis. As part of the worldwide team, I also get to spend time with people who understand certain areas of our business at great depth, and learn about offerings we have that can help our customers. This was the case the other day when I was speaking with Swaroop, a co-worker who works on compilers, Java, and transition tools.
We were speaking about a common scenario that we often come across - lots of HP 9000 PA-RISC servers functioning perfectly well at a customer site. The customer would like to get rid of the old servers and consolidate on something more efficient, but their code runs on PA-RISC and they don't want to upgrade or re-write their code to work on HP Integrity servers. I've known about the Aries translator, but Swaroop gave me an in-depth view of the "Over Easy" portfolio.
As I've heard for years, the Aries translator runs HP 9000 PA-RISC binaries on HP Integrity servers. It works well, but like any translation, it isn't as efficient are recompiling the code to a native mode, although the translator gets more efficient the longer that it runs. Naturally, if you take an old server, the performance per core of a new server is so much higher that even with the translator the performance might improve compared to the old environment.
The next tool is for Java environments. It is called HP Mixed Mode Translator (MITR). Essentially, this runs the HP Integrity Java Virtual Machine instead of the HP 9000 JVM. However, if the Integrity Java JVM calls a HP 9000 library, MITR automatically makes sure that the library runs under the Aries translator. This gives you the benefit of a native JVM (such as performance improvements), but still using the rest of your HP 9000 libraries.
Third, for developers, there is the HP XPADE - namely the HP 9000 Cross Development Environment for Integrity. This allows you to develop your HP 9000 code on newer HP Integrity servers. HP XPADE provides a self-contained and fully functional HP 9000 HP-UX C/C++ development environment on HP-UX 11i for HP Integrity servers.
Finally, if you are at the point that you want to move code from HP 9000 to HP Integrity servers, HP offers a number of HP Software Transition Kits. There is a Software Transition Kit from HP 9000 and HP-UX to HP HP-UX on Integrity. There are other software transition kits as well - Linux, Solaris, Tru64, and AIX. There are other tools as well. And naturally, HP is has a lot of upgrade, transition, and migration expertise, including Migration Competency Centers. If you need help, HP is happy to help provide it.
As I mentioned, I learned a lot about how to get HP 9000 code onto newer HP Integrity servers, which often reduces maintenance activities, support costs, power, cooling, and floor space costs, and more. Hopefully you find this information useful as well.
It was back about a week ago that I received an issue of InformationWeek. One of the first things I noticed was the piece on the Oracle-Sun deal titled “Exclusive Research: Customers Skeptical Of Oracle-Sun Benefits” by Charles Babcock. What I found to be of interest is that it is the first article on Oracle-Sun that has research on what customers think about the combination of the software giant and UltraSPARC.
The fact of the matter is that of the of 381 business technology polled, 42% of them who are customers of both Oracle and Sun think there will be no benefit. That's a pretty high percentage of respondents, and shows a great deal of skepticism. As the article says, Oracle is not looking for all Sun customers, just the biggest and most sophisticated.
But what about the rest of the customers? If I was in a UNIX shop running SPARC-based servers and Solaris I might have some concerns. What if I had a number of general purpose applications running on SPARC hardware today, what then? I know what I would do - move to a vendor that can show me a long-term server and operating system roadmap. I would want to be in a position where I don't have to be concerned about the underlying server architecture architecture in my datacenter. That's the reason I like both Proliant and Integrity servers. I can lower my infrastructure costs by moving to them from SPARC - just check out the TCO Challenge at www.hp.com/go/tcochallenge - it's compelling. And if you still have alot of Solaris applications and expertise, just move over to Solaris on ProLiant.