HP's app server fears, Unix dreams

Bright future for HP-UX

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Exclusive A pair of documents related to HP's software business have made their way into our hands, shedding light on tough app server decisions within the company and the future of HP-UX.

HP executives would have you believe that they scoff of Sun Microsystems' attempts to sell an application server. They claim that dumping the old Bluestone - aka NetAction - team off the New Jersey Turnpike in favor of partnering with BEA was the only sane decision an enterprise system company could make. Why make your own kit, when you can partner - a line of thought that has become the HP Way.

However, a document marked "HP Restricted" indicates that the company may have partnered with BEA more out of fear than sanity.

"IBM and Sun have both made very aggressive moves in the middleware space that threaten to take market share away from both BEA and HP," the note reads. "Fortunately, both the IBM and Sun offerings leave much to be desired in the areas of manageability, interoperability, reliability and usability."

All of the ilities flag this document as a marketing-laced pamphlet for sales folks, but nonetheless, it provides a clear indication that HP takes market leader IBM seriously along with often bashed, underdog Sun. This is a far cry from HP's public stance that the Sun ONE Application Server provides no challenge at all.

Along with the app server paper, a detailed report on the future of HP-UX has appeared.

Shannon Knows HPC has already pointed out that a version of HP-UX with the Tru64 TruCluster software is running in HP labs on a two processor box. As promised, HP also has the Advanced File System from Tru64 working with HP-UX. Both the clustering technology and file system are due in a 2004 release of HP-UX.

HP has been working on these ports for some time as it prepares to axe Tru64, which is tied to Alpha chips, in favor of an HP-UX only approach. HP's flavor of Unix will be the high end OS of choice on Itanium-based servers.

When HP-UX 11i version 3 arrives in 2004, it will also come with some other goodies. The OS will be the first release to support both PA-RISC and Itanic chips at launch. It will scale up to 128 processors and support virtual partitions for the Itanium processor.

All of this, combined with TruCluster and AdvFS means, HP is set to make a big to do about the OS release.

In 2005, HP will deliver HP-UX 11i version 4. It's hard to tell exactly what the OS will feature because HP's slides are marred by phrases such as self-tuning and self-adapting that don't mean much of anything. However, the OS will be designed to run well on large clusters and high end SMPs and include strong support for Linux apps.

After falling behind Sun's Solaris in analyst rankings, HP has worked to bring HP-UX up to even ground and even surpasses Sun on some features such as capacity on demand functions. Analysts tend to agree that IBM's AIX lags behind rival OSes by quite a ways.

With flash Tru64 features built into HP-UX, HP looks to keep the pressure on its competitors for some time. ®

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