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With IBM's Watson question-answer machine getting ready to play the Jeopardy! game show next month and Oracle's Exadata and SuperCluster data warehousing appliances hogging a lot of the headlines last year, HP's Enterprise Business group needs to come up with something flashy to get some attention and do a little business.

Whatever that new product might be, it's not going to be a third iteration of the Neoview clustered systems that HP launched four years ago. HP killed it off today.

"HP has decided to stop actively selling Neoview to new customers," a company spokesperson told El Reg. "Our customers are demanding options for addressing an emerging set of requirements around the explosive growth of data, new types of information, new classes of analytics and new delivery models. HP will continue to work with best-in-class partners and will develop innovative approaches that address the next-generation requirements of the market. HP will continue to deliver professional services to support our customers’ needs to modernize and optimize their information delivery strategy."

The original Neoview data warehousing appliances were based on a cluster of HP's Integrity rx2620 servers, which employed Itanium processors from Intel as their main brains. This first-gen Neoview system could scale from 16 to 256 Itanium cores and made use of the NonStop operating system and fault tolerant database that comes from the Tandem part of HP.

The Neoview code takes the NonStop kernel and distributed database and tunes it for data warehousing and business analytics applications rather than for the OLTP workloads that the glatt kosher NonStop machines are designed to support. (Oracle says you can run OLTP and data warehousing workloads on the same box and has tweaked its software stack to tune the software to run each job on that iron).

HP took several years to port the NonStop stack to Itanium-based machines, and delivered it to customers in June 2006.

The base Neoview machine announced in April 2007 cost $645,000 with 16 processors and the Neoview software stack. This was back when the "Tukwila" processors were slated to have eight cores at some point in the future and would scale to 1,024 cores in a single clustered database image. The Tukwila processors delivered by Intel have only four cores, of course, so the scalability for Neoview took a hit when Intel changed the roadmap. Nonetheless, HP contended at the time that a 256-core Neoview with a few terabytes of main memory would be able to handle the random pesky questions of thousands of users.

In November 2009, as part of a hodge-podge "converged infrastructure" announcement, HP ported the Neoview stack to its Integrity blade servers and relaunched this product as Neoview Advantage. At the time, HP did not provide the feeds and speeds of the bladed NeoView setup, but HP told El Reg said that the switch from Integrity NonStop servers to Integrity blade servers backed by StorageWorks disk arrays pushed the Neoview Advantage price point down considerably. (How much, HP did not say).

The entry Neoview Advantage had 16 cores, expandable to 128 cores, as you can see from this spec sheet from last year. With the advent of the quad-core Tukwila Itanium 9300s last year, the Neoview Advantage data warehousing appliance could span from 32 to 256 cores. HP configured either 6 TB or 9 TB of user data space in the data warehouse for every 16 cores of processors, allowing the setup to span up to 144 TB max.

HP had a few dozen customers for the Neoview data warehousing appliances, and was itself a user of the appliance. But the writing was perhaps on the wall for the Neoview product in September 2008, when HP was chosen as the hardware partner for Oracle's first iteration of its Exadata data warehousing appliance, which put Oracle's eponymous database, its Real Application Clusters, and its Enterprise Linux clone of Red Hat's Linux variant of the same name, running on HP's ProLiant servers.

Maybe HP should have ported the NonStop kernel and database from MIPS chips to Xeons instead of moving the code to Itanium chips? It may not matter, with HP and Microsoft being all buddy-buddy about the Frontline data warehousing appliances announced last week. ®

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