Looking Beyond Itanium

 

Over the last one year the future of Itanium and HP-UX has been subject to intense discussions with Oracle announcing that it will no longer support its middleware and database on HP’s Itanium products line. This had kicked up intense legal battles between HP and Oracle, with lots of allegations and counter allegations. Notwithstanding, HP’s-Itanium line is seeing steady declines and if one has to go by HP’s latest global quarterly numbers (Q1), which show a massive 27% decline in its business critical systems as compared to the corresponding quarter previous year.
HP’s server, storage, and networking business contributes about $5 bn and the business critical contribution is around 8% of the global revenues. Catherine Lesjak, HP’s chief financial officer, commenting on the numbers said that due to Itanium issues HP’s business critical systems are going through a challenging phase.

Converged Computing

HP is no newcomer to the systems business, but the non-x86 UNIXthe mission-critical side, has been going through tough times. Sun Microsystems going into Oracle fold created a market confusion and Sun’s leading position on UNIX went south in the last couple of years. Now with this Itanium issue, the one vendor who is gaining the most is IBM on AIX side.

So, clearly to stop HP customers from migrating to competition on the mission-critical front, HP needs to do something innovative and broaden the choice for its mission-critical customers who can concurrently run their IT infrastructure on x86 architectures as well. Reflecting on the significance of this, Matthew Eastwood, group vice president and GM, enterprise platforms, IDC says, “Today customers are trying to achieve a level of price performance which they cannot reach on their own while balancing their mission-critical requirements. Converging IT and extending the mission-critical experience to x86 will address this while providing greater flexibility, reliability, and freeing up resources for future business innovations.”

HP has been into this converged infrastructure play for quite some time, and advocating it aggressively on the data center side. Says Ramanujam S Komanduri, director, BCS, HP India, “We believe that the converged infrastructure is the way forward and Project Odyssey is basically about efficiency and innovation, technology, roadmaps bringing all under one umbrella.”

 

Information available from HP suggests that Project Odyssey’s key aim is to unify UNIX and x86 server architectures onto a single platform. This allows organizations to leverage on the availability and resilience of UNIX based platforms along with the familiarity and cost-efficiency of industry-standard platforms. Moreover through this HP also plans to enhance the HP-UX operating environment on HP Integrity servers and delivering blades with Intel Xeon processors for HP Superdome 2 enclosure (code named DragonHawk) and the scalable c-Class blade enclosures (code named “HydraLynx), while fortifying Windows and Linux environments with innovations from HP-UX within the next 2 years.

Sources in HP say that once DragonHawk is available, clients will be able to run mission-critical workloads on HP-UX on Intel Itanium based blades while simultaneously running workloads on Microsoft Windows or Red Hat Linux on Intel Xeon-based blades in the same Superdome 2 enclosure.

Impact

According to Andrew Butler, VP and distinguished analyst, Gartner, “The mission-critical server market will undergo significant changes over the next decade including the adoption of more x86 platforms for critical applications. As such, x86 customers are looking for an equivalent mission-critical experience to what they have today in UNIX environments. An ideal scenario for customers is to leverage an infrastructure that is flexible enough to evolve and adapt to address their changing mission critical needs.”

Clearly, this seems to be the whole idea of HP and given the mission-critical market alignment right now this seems to be wise move by HP because with advancements in the x86 side in terms of processing power has given the much needed fillip in terms of its adoption across multiple application/demand scenarios. However HP reiterates that Project Odyssey is all about giving broader choice and innovation for customers and it is not about migrating its UNIX (UX) customers on to x86 platforms.

HP believes that its UX business will continue to innovate and offer value to its mission-critical clients. Despite HPs problems with Oracle it has got the full support of Intel. On the contrary that Itanium will be discontinued by Intel; it had reaffirmed its commitment to Itanium. “Intel’s work on Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule,” says Paul Otellini, president and CEO, Intel Corporation. “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture,” he adds.

Intel sources say that Poulson is Intel’s next generation 32nm 8 core based Itanium chip, and is on track to more than double the performance of the existing Tukwila architecture. Kittson is an officially committed roadmap product for Itanium beyond Poulson and is also in active development.

According to Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center and connected systems group, “Intel’s continued innovation with a multi-generation Itanium processor roadmap, combined with existing and future mission-critical capabilities of Intel Xeon processors, allows HP and Intel to provide customers with greater flexibility and choice. Together with HP we will be able to give customers the ability to do mission-critical computing on their terms, with a broad range of operating systems and applications.”

From a broader industry perspective, this move by HP is seen by analysts as a way forward trend for the industry and HP might have got the early movers’ edge. Globally, UNIX market is shrinking and mission-critical server buying decisions are increasingly going through a longer haul as in many instances CIOs find it easier with industry standard commodity servers. With this move, HP is addressing the customer concerns regarding future of HP-UX. And at the same time giving a wider choice for its customers and driving home its commitment to pure play UX offerings.

Putting the overall development in perspective, Richard Fichera, vice president, principal analyst serving infrastructure and operations professionals at Forrester writes in his blog post, “My interpretation of these moves is that it is both a combined defensive and pro-active offensive action on HP’s part that will both protect them as their Itanium/HP-UX portfolio slowly declines as well as offer attractive and potentially unique options for both current and future customers who want to deploy increasingly critical services on x86 platforms.” This in a way sums up the road ahead for HP’s mission-critical offerings.

Clearly, this seems to be the whole idea of HP and given the mission-critical market alignment right now this seems to be wise move by HP because with advancements in the x86 side in terms of processing power has given the much needed fillip in terms of its adoption across multiple application/demand scenarios. However HP reiterates that Project Odyssey is all about giving broader choice and innovation for customers and it is not about migrating its UNIX (UX) customers on to x86 platforms.

HP believes that its UX business will continue to innovate and offer value to its mission-critical clients. Despite HPs problems with Oracle it has got the full support of Intel. On the contrary that Itanium will be discontinued by Intel; it had reaffirmed its commitment to Itanium. “Intel’s work on Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule,” says Paul Otellini, president and CEO, Intel Corporation. “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture,” he adds.

Intel sources say that Poulson is Intel’s next generation 32nm 8 core based Itanium chip, and is on track to more than double the performance of the existing Tukwila architecture. Kittson is an officially committed roadmap product for Itanium beyond Poulson and is also in active development.

According to Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center and connected systems group, “Intel’s continued innovation with a multi-generation Itanium processor roadmap, combined with existing and future mission-critical capabilities of Intel Xeon processors, allows HP and Intel to provide customers with greater flexibility and choice. Together with HP we will be able to give customers the ability to do mission-critical computing on their terms, with a broad range of operating systems and applications.”

From a broader industry perspective, this move by HP is seen by analysts as a way forward trend for the industry and HP might have got the early movers’ edge. Globally, UNIX market is shrinking and mission-critical server buying decisions are increasingly going through a longer haul as in many instances CIOs find it easier with industry standard commodity servers. With this move, HP is addressing the customer concerns regarding future of HP-UX. And at the same time giving a wider choice for its customers and driving home its commitment to pure play UX offerings.

Putting the overall development in perspective, Richard Fichera, vice president, principal analyst serving infrastructure and operations professionals at Forrester writes in his blog post, “My interpretation of these moves is that it is both a combined defensive and pro-active offensive action on HP’s part that will both protect them as their Itanium/HP-UX portfolio slowly declines as well as offer attractive and potentially unique options for both current and future customers who want to deploy increasingly critical services on x86 platforms.” This in a way sums up the road ahead for HP’s mission-critical offerings.

Clearly, this seems to be the whole idea of HP and given the mission-critical market alignment right now this seems to be wise move by HP because with advancements in the x86 side in terms of processing power has given the much needed fillip in terms of its adoption across multiple application/demand scenarios. However HP reiterates that Project Odyssey is all about giving broader choice and innovation for customers and it is not about migrating its UNIX (UX) customers on to x86 platforms.

HP believes that its UX business will continue to innovate and offer value to its mission-critical clients. Despite HPs problems with Oracle it has got the full support of Intel. On the contrary that Itanium will be discontinued by Intel; it had reaffirmed its commitment to Itanium. “Intel’s work on Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule,” says Paul Otellini, president and CEO, Intel Corporation. “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture,” he adds.

Intel sources say that Poulson is Intel’s next generation 32nm 8 core based Itanium chip, and is on track to more than double the performance of the existing Tukwila architecture. Kittson is an officially committed roadmap product for Itanium beyond Poulson and is also in active development.

According to Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center and connected systems group, “Intel’s continued innovation with a multi-generation Itanium processor roadmap, combined with existing and future mission-critical capabilities of Intel Xeon processors, allows HP and Intel to provide customers with greater flexibility and choice. Together with HP we will be able to give customers the ability to do mission-critical computing on their terms, with a broad range of operating systems and applications.”

From a broader industry perspective, this move by HP is seen by analysts as a way forward trend for the industry and HP might have got the early movers’ edge. Globally, UNIX market is shrinking and mission-critical server buying decisions are increasingly going through a longer haul as in many instances CIOs find it easier with industry standard commodity servers. With this move, HP is addressing the customer concerns regarding future of HP-UX. And at the same time giving a wider choice for its customers and driving home its commitment to pure play UX offerings.

Putting the overall development in perspective, Richard Fichera, vice president, principal analyst serving infrastructure and operations professionals at Forrester writes in his blog post, “My interpretation of these moves is that it is both a combined defensive and pro-active offensive action on HP’s part that will both protect them as their Itanium/HP-UX portfolio slowly declines as well as offer attractive and potentially unique options for both current and future customers who want to deploy increasingly critical services on x86 platforms.” This in a way sums up the road ahead for HP’s mission-critical offerings.

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