At its HP Discover event in Barcelona, HP has announced the expansion of its Compute portfolio with its new HP Integrity Superdome X and HP Integrity NonStop X, which bring Superdome and NonStop to x86 servers.
“2010-11 was the last big refresh for our mission-critical servers when we took the whole portfolio to a blade system design from Itanium,” said Jeff Kyle, director, product management, Mission Critical Systems, at HP. “That’s when we started using standardized components. Superdome had run Windows and Linux in the past for Itanium but it wasn’t a major business. Now, bringing Xeon architecture into the blades will really open things up for Windows customers and Linux customers.”
The HP Integrity Superdome X scales up to 16 sockets and 12TB memory to support the largest enterprise applications. By way of comparison, it delivers up to nine times the performance of the HP DL980 G7, the current HP 8-socket x86 server. HP’s nPars hard partitioning technology offers 20 times greater reliability to maximize application uptime by insulating critical applications from other failures.
“The past got us to standardization for the Itanium Integrity line, but the future gets us more agile and closer to Linux for the mission critical environment,” Kyle said. “An enterprise can run its entire infrastructure in Superdome X, in memory, and do analytics and BI in that same set of memory, which is thousands of times faster.”
The HP Integrity NonStop X offers up to 100 per cent application availability, allowing customers to accelerate service delivery of workloads such as business processing, online transaction processing and large database environments. It scales online without any application outage to accommodate escalating transaction volume and supports business growth with up to 25 times increase in system interconnect capacity.
“While NonStop still supports Itanium, with Xeon we now have the opportunity to bring in an industry standard interconnect, Infinband, to bring a deeper integration with the Linux solutions that are already in our customers’ environment,” Kyle said. “NonStop X gives us a better integration with those Linux servers than before.”
Kyle said that moving this technology onto x86 servers is possible today because the ecosystem has matured sufficiently.
“The ecosystem is catching up,” he said. “Linux isn’t as reliable as Unix, but it’s getting there. The E7 Xeon 7 processors from Intel are getting there, and the applications are maturing. You have SAP with HANA screaming for these types of systems. And they are open, not a proprietary stack. HANA was important in starting this momentum, but Oracle 12c also has in-memory capabilities, and SQL Server has in- memory capabilities. We are working on solutions now with Microsoft around SQL.”
The timing is also right with regard to the ebbing of the UNIX market.
“The UNIX server market where Itanium-based systems play has been declining for 3-5 years, because ISVs have moved to Linux development infrastructure instead of UNIX,” Kyle said. “UNIX isn’t going to go away, but it has given up the front end and application and web tier to Linux, as customers want to take advantage of Linux agility. The market for x86 is there now, and is stable and growing slightly at less than 5 per cent per year. IBM and Oracle are going down a different path for this space, so won’t be serving the customers clamouring for more x86 here.”
Forecasting the end of Itanium has been a time-tested staple of IT journalism, but Kyle said the move to x86 does not bring this any closer.
“Our core Itanium base in areas like banking remains strong, and we have streamlined our investment appropriately, and that investment in itanium is targeted to keep those customers going as long as they want,” he said.
The HP Integrity Superdome X is available now through HP and channel partners, and the HP Integrity NonStop X is expected to be available in March 2015.
“Superdome X, and to a lesser extent NonStop X, are really open to channel partner involvement, using standard Linux and standard Windows,” Kyle said. “We want partners to be more in that mix, deploying their own support and services.”