New HP Itanium servers and better Unix should keep customers on board
HP has picked up the new “Poulson” Itanium 9500 from Intel and says the platform is here to stay, having drawn a line under the legal battle in which it forced Oracle to continue support for the platform.
While Itanium and Unix servers will never compare in terms of size to the mass of Xeon servers running Windows or Linux, the user base is stable, and customers can enter and leave at will, said HP.
The company showed its commitment to the platform with new Itanium-powered Superdome 2 servers, new blades, and HP Integrity blades for its BladeSystems c-Class chassis. It also showed off a major upgrade for the HP-UX Unix operating system, along with a new low-end business critical Itanium system for branch offices.
Itanium to the future
“If you have Itanium today, you can stay where you are,” said Mark Payne, HP’s EMEA vice president for business critical systems. There is enough innovation coming to satisfy those customers, he argued, and in the next 18 months they may decide to move their workloads off the platform or not.
The new eight core Itanium processor has something like two or three times the performance of the quad-core Itanium 9300 known as Tukwila, and Intel also promised a roadmap leading to the next version – Kittson.
HP’s business critical servers business has been decreasing of late – recent figures showed its sales had fallen year-on-year by 16 percent, dropping from $2.6 billion in 2009 to $2.1 billion last year, which most people have attributed to uncertainty over the future of Itanium.
The launch event in London was at pains to distinguish HP’s Unix business from rival lines at Oracle and IBM. Oracle’s Solaris runs on SPARC processors, while IBM’s AIX runs on Power, and both lines of processors are made in house and with a limited market. By contrast, Itanium gets the benefits of scale from compatibility with servers based on Intel’s Xeon processors, HP said.
The troubled Silicon Valley giant also took the opportunity to mention that its other operating systems, including OpenVMS and NonStop, will also get continuing life from the Itanium processors.
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