Is Linux moving to HP's NonStop (Tandem) platform?

While the loudest buzz in the operating system/hardware arena has been the news of Apple's jump to Intel CPUs, another story that may be of more interest to enterprise datacenter managers involves two completely different operating system/CPU platforms - Linux and HP's NonStop servers.

Earlier this month, HP hinted that Linux may be ported to the server platform once known as Tandem, which HP inherited from its acquisition of Compaq (which purchased Tandem the company in 1997 for US$3 billion).

Speaking at a recent Red Hat customer/partner event, Martin Fink, the general manager of Linux and open source business at HP, said: "Maybe one day you'll actually see Red Hat Linux running native on NonStop" He stopped short of saying the move would definitely happen.

HP has not formally committed to porting Linux to the NonStop platform, which runs on RISC-based CPUs made by Silicon Graphics. However, the vendor appears interested in running Linux on NonStop servers along the same line that IBM has moved its Linux operating system to run natively and as a virtual partition on the Big Iron. HP has not said what form Linux on a NonStop server might take - whether native, or virtual.

Many large companies such as retailer L.L. Bean, Citigroup, Rubbermaid and countless others have made this jump, putting virtual instances of Linux on IBM mainframes for server consolidation. For longtime Tandem shops, the idea of running Linux instances could be a useful tool for making use of extra CPU cycles on an old Himalaya box. HP NonStop customers should stay tuned to this development.

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