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HP goes sweet sixteen with HP-UX 11i update

Serviceguard but no leather boots

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On the clustering front, the Serviceguard A11.19 clustering extensions to HP-UX 11i v3, which is part of a set of HP-UX systems software that HP calls the Virtual Server Environment, is getting a new feature called fast failover. This feature was custom coded for two-node clusters for selected HP-UX customers who needed the absolute smallest recovery time if a server failed - think banks and stock exchanges - and is now being mainstreamed. The fast failover feature can now span 16-node clusters, not just two-node setups, and can reduce the failover time from 30 seconds with the prior Serviceguard release to 4 seconds.

Serviceguard has also been tweaked so the planned downtime associated with cluster maintenance and configuration - such as adding or deleting cluster resources, changing parameters of application software while the application is running - no longer results in downtime. According to HP, the U.S. and Japanese governments have mandated that their agencies support the IPv6 protocol, and Serviceguard A11.19 supports IPv4 and IPv6 networks, or networks that mix environments as customers transition to IPv6.

Finally, HP is announcing a feature for some clustering extensions dedicated to the Serviceguard-SAP combo called, appropriately enough, Serviceguard Extension for SAP. This new feature provides failover clustering for a key feature inside SAP's supply chain management modules called LiveCache.

The supply chain module is a big part of the SAP ERP application stack, particularly for manufacturers who use SAP software to manage their shop floors. The supply chain database was a performance bottleneck for the SCM modules as shop floor workers and the ERP suite banged away on it, and so SAP took an instance of its open source MaxDB database (which is one of many possible backends for the MySQL database management system) and embedded it in memory on systems running SAP's ERP software to house that SCM database. This is what LiveCache is, and it significantly improves the performance of the SCM software. But sometimes this database gets corrupted or the machine supporting it has a failure of some sort, and when it crashes, the system is bollixed.

So now HP is using Serviceguard to keep a fully replicated spare copy of the MaxDB database on another HP-UX box, and the SAP suite just points to that backup copy if something goes wrong with the primary. Now, instead of taking hours to rebuild that SCM database, recovery happens in about 2 minutes. LiveCache clustering for SAP ERP works with ServiceGuard Extension for SAP versions 4.51 and 5.0 and with LiveCache 7.5 or later from SAP, and works with HP-UX 11i v2 or v3.

HP-UX 11i v3 Update 4 and Serviceguard A11.19 are both available on April 17. ®

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