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.

Easier UNIX

As I've
mentioned here a few times already, HP-UX 11i v3 March 2010 update is now
shipping. There are a number of new capabilities, but let's take a look at some
of the things that are now a little easier.


First, from a LVM
perspective, it now allows you to boot directly from an LVM L2 volume. The
volume layout was changed, and the LVM 2.0 volumes allow for a lot more
scalability. There are a few other changes, including LVM Snapshots, and
LVMove, which helps automate the process of moving volumes. 


The March 2010
release improved the management for HP
Integrity Virtual Machines v4.2
. It has improved system management by
offering automatic memory reallocation providing better utilization and more
flexibility. It has a storage reporting tool to report on the mapping between
virtual and physical storage, a big time saver whenever you need to make
storage modifications. It has better network management with guest-tagged VLAN
support providing additional flexibility. Finally, to improve the integration
between HP Integrity Virtual Machines and HP Serviceguard Solutions, there is a
new Integrity VM Serviceguard Toolkit enhancements to monitor not just the
virtual machine guest, but also the application running inside of the guest.
This provides multi-level protection in the cluster: failover if the server
fails, if the virtual machine guest fails, or if the application inside of the
guest fails.


While many
customers use HP Integrity Virtual Machines, a number of customers,
particularly those who are looking to reduce their maintenance costs for large
shared-services deployments, like to use application stacking within a single
instance of HP-UX 11i v3. For customers who are interested in using Secured
Resource Partitions in SAP, HP has released a reference architecture (Link: PDF).
HP is also developing a reference architecture for Oracle and Secure Resource
Partitions which should be published this month. Reference architectures make
it much easier to implement not only the technology with the application, but
also include best practices to make life easier.


Finally, to make
life easier for developers, HP has updated the default versions of the C and C++ compilers. These
compilers not only use the latest standards, but offer higher performance.
There are also features which make it much easier to port GNU applications to
HP-UX 11i v3 using these compilers.


These new
features are another step towards making HP-UX 11i v3 systems easier to use for
our customers.




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


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
). 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

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?




Measuring Uptime

How do you measure uptime? Is it becoming more important in your environment? Is downtime costing your company more or less today when compared to a  few years ago?

For many customers, the amount of downtime that they experience is increasing, often due to the complexity of new systems. In addition, the cost of downtime is also increasing, usually due to the businesses increased reliance on IT systems. In short, for many customers, downtime is a bigger issue than in the past.


Coming from a business that spends a lot of time working with mission-critical customers, I've seen some interesting changes over the past few years, especially where uptime measurement is concerned.


I've seen that with virtualization, many workloads that each have lower uptime requirements are consolidated onto fewer platforms. Often, this means that the uptime requirements for platform actually increase compared to the individual workloads. However, virtualization also provides benefits, such as moving workloads online which allows maintenance to be completed without bringing down the application -  a great way to reduce planned downtime.


I've also noticed that as systems get more complex, and vendors build in more availability into the applications, that the overall uptime of the application increases. However, the uptime of an individual node in a cluster may not be as high as a single node of the application. Why? Because the increased complexity of the cluster results in higher overall availability, but at times it sacrifices the ease of management, configuration, and maintenance that may be available in a single node version, resulting in more downtime.


So, how do you measure uptime in your environment? Do you measure it based on the uptime of the server? Does that change if you can move a virtual machine workload from one system to another to handle planned downtime?


Do you measure uptime based on the OS availability? I can move my virtualized workload from one server to another, and the OS stays running. This is wonderful, and definitely helps reduce planned downtime. If you are running a cluster of virtual machines, and the clustering only measures whether a server is running (for unplanned downtime) or if the administrator needs to manually start an online migration (for planned downtime), it is hard to get OS level availability or application level availability measurements.


Do you measure uptime based on the application availability? This is easy in a clustered environment when the cluster understand the applications, such as with HP Serviceguard . While this works well for mission critical applications, it does take some effort to get that level of application integration. And then, how do you measure uptime on a multi-node solution, such as Oracle RAC? Do you measure the uptime of each node, any of the nodes, or all of the nodes?


So, how do you measure the uptime of your environment, or do you use different measurements for different systems or parts of your environment? How do you navigate vendor uptime claims, especially since different solutions may offer similar claims (ex. 99.9% uptime), but often measure different things (ex. Application uptime versus physical server or virtual machine uptime)? Do your uptime measurements include  planned downtime for maintenance, or just unplanned downtime? Comments or thoughts on how this plays out in the real world are always appreciated.



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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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  • 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.
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  • 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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