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September 2005

New HP virtualization touts adaptive ease

HP-UX, Integrity alternatives offer five days of half-hour slices of free CPU boosts

HP 3000 customers on the move have heard HP talk up its Adaptive Enterprise for more than two years. This year might be the first when adapting gets easy enough and small enough for the typical 3000 enterprise.

The changes are rolling out this fall for customers looking at HP-UX as a target environment for their migrations. HP’s Nick van der Zweep, director of virtualization and utility computing, said the new software makes managing virtual environments simpler. It also gives HP-UX customers a way to sample extra horsepower for free.

“We’re really making virtualization hit the mainstream,” van der Zweep said. The virtualization concept makes IT resources adaptable, so month-end and high-impact processes don’t bottleneck a company’s computing capacity. The Adaptive Enterprise has been an elusive concept in the past, but HP seems to have narrowed the offering down to “synchronizing business and IT,” a way of explaining that heavy computing loads won’t outstrip a company’s IT power.

Some of the extra horsepower for a firm using HP-UX servers — whether the familiar PA-RISC models or the newer Integrity Itanium 2 systems — comes from extra processors, shipped with the system but not paid for or enabled at first delivery. Customers can enable this extra capacity on demand for an extra charge, a feature HP calls Instant Capacity. But HP has added a new level of adaptability: Five free days of the extra processor use, available in slices as small as 30 minutes.

IBM, HP’s prime competitor in the virtualization market, also offers its customers free days of CPU use. But IBM, van der Zweep pointed out, doesn’t let customers use increments smaller than a full day.

HP’s virtualization has been a static offering for a number of years, taking a single server and portioning it into several virtual processors. Dynamic virtualization is the next generation of the virtual offerings, when a server automatically shifts processing power to applications as needed.

“So I can steal some resources of the ERP system to fuel the Web retail system, when the retail system needs more resources,” van der Zweep said. Such dynamics have been possible on HP hardware for a little while, but less than dead simple to manage.

HP’s now got new and expanded HP Integrity Essentials software, part of the HP Virtual Server environment for both the Integrity HP-UX systems as well as PA-RISC-based HP 9000s. A new HP Integrity Essentials Capacity Advisor lets system admins plan and simulate placement of application workloads. A Virtualization Manager configures and manages all types of virtual and physical resources from one management console.

Customers automatically allocate server resources based on business priorities using the HP-UX Integrity Essentials Global Workload Manager software. HP’s adding the OpenVMS environment for this tool that’s already supported on HP-UX 11i and Linux.

HP 3000 customers are working to justify migration expenditures, outlays for development and systems that far outstrip the regular budgets for their MPE/iX computing. New capabilities like virtualization — unavailable on the HP 3000 — can help deliver more than just a target environment that takes over for MPE/iX systems.

“Server virtualization capabilities are becoming increasingly important for buyers of enterprise servers,” said Tom Kucharvy, president and chief research officer, Summit Strategies. “In fact, more than 70 percent of enterprises have indicated that they already have or plan to purchase server virtualization solutions within the next three years.”

Comprehensive management

These adaptive environments have been fraught with complexity, something HP hopes to address with its new management tools. Prior releases had a separate interface for hardware partitions, software partitions, and high availability clusters. The new offering of Virtual Server Environment uses a comprehensive console, HP Integrity Essentials Virtualization Manager.

The manager looks at a company’s IT configuration, discovers the hardware and workload. “It lets you see it in one place, and then manipulate it to create new hardware or software partitions, all from one pane of glass,” van der Zweep said.

Some levels of the management utilities are included with HP-UX, while others are extra-cost add-on modules. Software such as the Virtualization Manager and Capacity Advisor costs extra, while the core Insight Manager, which discovers resources throughout the enterprise, is included. Insight Manager 5.0 discovers storage resources as well as computing systems.

In the Unix environment, one server to an application has been a typical configuration, so consolidations have been saddled with complexity. Putting 50 servers’ workload into two to four servers “has been an art” up to now, looking back at performance characteristics for different applications. Capacity Advisor looks at historical performance data to determine optimal workload configurations for the best utilization of a server.

Van der Zweep said that a typical HP-UX server using Capacity Manager has 60 to 80 percent utilization, according to figures from analyst house IDC. IBM virtual servers, he maintained, typically only utilize 20 percent of their capacity.

The virtualization also works under other operating environments on HP hardware: Linux, Windows Server and OpenVMS on Integrity and ProLiant hardware. OpenVMS, the Digital operating environment HP acquired in its deal with Compaq, was ported to the Itanium architecture this year — a move HP declined to complete for MPE/iX after promising customers it would do so.

HP’s virtualization allows Integrity servers to run HP-UX, Windows, Linux or OpenVMS alongside one another on a single server. This capability isn’t offered for PA-RISC based HP 9000s.

“Integrity is our go-forward architecture,” van der Zweep said. “We still sell a lot of PA-RISC. Our HP 3000 customers are PA-RISC customers. We’re up to 24 percent of the revenue from Business Critical Systems for Integrity, and the rest is PA-RISC.”

HP-UX Integrity systems have this sub-CPU virtualization today; Windows- and Linux-based environments will have the capability in 2006, and OpenVMS will follow after 2006, van der Zweep said.

This sub-PCU virtualization rollout had a scheduling future that invoked echoes of the MPE/iX IA-64 promises of the late 1990s. “Engineers are working on [OpenVMS],” he said, “and I can’t commit to next year. If I had my way, I would. I’m making a commitment that we will do it.”

Looser licenses

HP is also addressing the licensing issues that surround virtualization strategies. Creating multiple instances of an operating environment used to automatically drive up CPU counts, which triggered bigger software license bills. A new Virtualization Licensing Program for HP-UX 11i lets customers reduce total cost of ownership by licensing software for virtual machines and partitions rather than a full server.

HP’s van der Zweep said the vendor is also going to announce several large third party software companies who will adjust their licensing to follow the new HP licensing program.

VMWare for Intel systems

HP also announced a packaging deal with Intel-based virtualization experts VMWare. A new VMWare version bundled with HP ProLiant systems, called the ProLiant Essentials Virtualization Management software, promises to “reduce time and costs to implement and manage virtual machines” in an Intel-based environment. VMWare Workstation is in use by more than 2.5 million development users after six years of releases.

HP’s bundle lets its ProLiant systems complement VMware management capabilities, including links to VMotion for non-disruptive migration of virtual machines; transfer of virtual machines to an alternative host in the event of a failure; and migration from a virtual machine environment to a physical server environment.

“You can do server consolidation with it,” van der Zweep said, “to just click on a bunch of servers and it will consolidate them onto one ProLiant machine running VMWare.” The software grabs a Windows NT instance already on a server, puts a VMWare wrapper around it and places it on the ProLiant system.

Fit for all sizes

HP says it’s seeing VMWare being used in small, medium and large businesses, while the Integrity Virtual Server environment is more of a fit for medium to large businesses. It hopes the new management software will spread virtualization to smaller customers.

Smaller businesses hadn’t embraced virtualization other than VMWare “mainly because of the setting up of rules of sharing took a little more expertise,” van der Zweep said. “Now the plan is with the Capacity Advisor and Virtualization Manager and Global Workload Manager, the automatic movement of resources becomes a lot simpler.”

Customers can embrace the new simplicity for $2,500 per core CPU for the Global Workload Manager. Prices on the other extra-cost modules were being finalized at the time of HP’s virtualization announcements.


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