Hewlett-Packard (HP) hammered home its commitment to the Itanium 2 chips this week, announcing new mid- and high-end members of its Integrity family of servers with the Madison chip, along with new support for OpenVMS 8.2, Novell's version of Linux, bundled virtualization software and, for the first time, a pay-per-use policy for server-based Windows.
The refreshed servers, which include those all the way up to HP's Superdome, run on average 25 percent faster than their predecessors. The added performance of the system is due not only to improved chip and other hardware technologies but software as well, according to company officials.
"A lot of the performance increase comes from the compilers and not just from the chips. It is not just about packing more transistors in or the clock speed, it is the maturity of the compilers and the performance it can deliver," said Don Jenkins, vice president of marketing for HP's Business Critical Server unit.
Trying to broaden their cross platform appeal, the new servers not only support Windows and HP-UX 11i but now OpenVMS Version 8.2 and Novell's Linux 9, the latter containing the 2.6 version of the Linux kernel. HP is also adding a couple of virtualization capabilities to boost the servers competitive position, including secure resource partitions to better ensure security among applications. The company is also shipping its Global Workload Manager that works across both virtual and physical servers acting as a live datacenter utility.
Industry observers said, however, that Integrity's success line against competing 64-bit servers depends on HP's ability to transition a generous portion of its existing base PA-RISC users over quickly.
"They still have a ways to go in terms of transitioning those (PA-RISC) users over. Has it gone as well as they would have liked? I don't believe so. It has been a long, slow process for them, but they are heading in the right direction," said Steve Josselyn research director for IDC's global enterprise server solutions practice.
The decision to offer a pay-per-use option for those Integrity servers shipping with Windows is based on a growing demand from the company's corporate customers who are using servers to host Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server consolidation and data warehousing.
"By introducing pay-per use for Windows, it is our first step towards offering utility computing capabilities for Windows. People increasingly tell us they want to pay for just what they consume," Jenkins said.
The new servers, available immediately, come with as much as 9 megabytes of cache, range in price from the low-end Integrity rx1620 model that goes for US$4,119 up to the Integrity Superdome server costing $185,252. In-box upgrades for all the company's existing Integrity servers are available, according to a company spokesperson.
In a related announcement, HP will announce that sales of Integrity server-related products and services have gone over the $1 billion mark in sales. That figure includes sales of StorageWorks systems, hardware services, and all associated software.
"That ($1 billion in sales in 2004) represents a 500 percent growth over 2003. Included in there are 180 SAP Aktiengesellschaft wins over the course of 180 days during the middle of 2004 We also hit the 3,000 application mark, which was something we were shooting for in 2004 and we are going for. Our goal for 2005 is to reach 4,500," Jenkins said.