> Inperso > Full Story
Itanium, PA-RISC, Superdome and Server trends
have been many significant developments in the server space.
Firstly, Intel launched its 64-bit processor for servers.
Also, servers have gradually evolved from all-in-one boxes
to application specific ones. High-end servers now match
mainframes in processing power. In an e-mail interview,
Kamal Dutta, Country Business Manager-Unix Servers
& Solutions, Hewlett-Packard India, explains what impact
these developments will have on the market. He also details
HP's server processor roadmap
Itanium and PA-RISC processors
HP and Intel have been co-developing the Itanium processor
over the past seven years. But all along HP had its own
PA-RISC processor architecture. Now that Itanium is finally
out (and it works with HP-UX too), will it pose a threat
to HP's PA-RISC systems? Will HP discontinue PA-RISC production
in a few years and migrate its base of users to Itanium/McKinley?
What is the roadmap?
HP & Intel have co-developed the Itanium processor.
The RISC architecture has been in existence for more than
15 years now and we believe that the next generation of
computing will require processor architecture with capabilities
and performances surpassing those of RISC chips. Hence there
is a need for a different architecture, which is what Itanium
is based on, and this new architecture is called EPIC (Explicitly
Parallel Instruction Computing). EPIC chips can execute
more instructions per cycle than the current generation
of RISC processors.
Itanium does not cause a threat to the PA-RISC systems and
we will continue developing and marketing PA-RISC based
systems in future. We also understand that there will be
users who would like to migrate from a RISC environment
to the Itanium processor family, and HP will provide the
smoothest migration path for these customers. HP will also
continue to invest in enterprise-class solutions for the
Itanium processor family. Also, all our PA-RISC based systems
will be upgradeable to Itanium processor family in future,
thereby providing investment protection.
Let me explain the investment protection part a little bit
more. Since all our PA-RISC based systems are upgradeable
to Itanium processor family, the customers get a choice
of either continuing with PA-RISC based processor or can
upgrade to Itanium based processors, and will have the ability
to use the server to run not one but three operating systems,
which are HP-UX for enterprise class mission critical applications,
Linux for front-end Web applications, and Windows for workgroup
The HP Server roadmap over the next four to five years will
see both faster and more powerful systems based on PA-RISC
processors as well as systems based on the Itanium processor
Sometime back analysts said that Itanium is a "Test
Processor" and that McKinley (next version of Itanium)
will be the real performer. So are businesses in India waiting
for McKinley or are they starting with Itanium (with a migration
plan for McKinley).
Itanium is not a test processor. It has industry leading
integer and floating point benchmark results and also has
excellent OLTP capabilities making it an ideal choice for
enterprises. McKinley is projected for performance levels
that will be a quantum leap over the current generation
of processors and HP is proud of the joint efforts in development
and delivery of the excellent indicative performances of
We believe that businesses in India can very well start
deploying Itanium based systems for their current applications.
On Server Segmentation
When is HP launching its 9000 Superdome server in India?
Which industry segments in India could potentially use Superdome?
HP 9000 Superdome server, which is also the highest end
system available from HP, is available in India now. Superdome
fulfils our vision for high-end systems, which will have
the ability to work with different processors architectures
(Itanium & PA-RISC); have the capability to handle mixed
workload environment and run three different operating systems,
and provide industry-leading reliability features. Superdome
is ideally suited for applications like large ERP implementations,
data warehousing, e-businesses, core-banking solutions and
Internet banking, large database implementations and high-end
technical computing, to mention a few.
HP is selling a range of servers: Pentium III/Xeon, HP-9000,
HP-UX servers, Itanium etc. Can you explain the market segmentation
for these servers.
The IA-32 based servers (Pentium III/Xeon) are clearly positioned
for entry level to midrange application deployments. Itanium
and PA-RISC based systems are positioned at mid- to high-end
On Server Trends
Servers have gradually evolved from all-in-one boxes to
application specific boxes (mail server, database server,
communications server, applications server, Web server).
What is your view on this? What is the future trend here?
It is our belief that applications such as Web servers,
security servers, firewalls, VPN, cache engines, etc will
be deployed in application specific boxes. However, we also
believe that the back-end of enterprises, data centres,
and banks will use servers that have the capability to run
multiple applications within a single system. Today enterprises
are looking for consolidating all their applications into
a single server, which will have the capability of partitioning,
running multiple operating systems, running processors of
different generations, frequencies, and architectures.
Servers are gradually moving from tower form factor boxes
to Rack systems, Bladed servers, and Appliance servers.
What kind of market potential do you see for these new systems
in India and in which segments?
Rack systems will increasingly become part of any standard
data centre of enterprises. Bladed servers will be used
for front-end applications, data centres and in the service
providers space. The Bladed server and Appliance server
have good growth potential in India in the SMB market place,
and even for enterprises seeking a good price-performance
system for their front-end applications.
On Server Sales
Last year there was great potential for server and storage
sales because many new dotcoms were opening shop and several
businesses were getting e-enabled. But this year the dotcoms
have died. So has this affected sales projections for server
and storage systems?
I do not think dotcoms have died although there has been
a tremendous shakeout which has affected the demand of servers
and storage in this market segment.
Mainframes Vs Servers
Do high-end servers like HP Superdome or Sun E10000 and
scalable systems (like Bladed servers) pose a threat to
mainframe computers? How near does HP Superdome come to
matching a mainframe in performance?
Superdome today is ideally suited for applications that
in past would have required a mainframe computer. Superdome
in many real-life application benchmarks has outperformed
a single mainframe system. The features available in Superdome
today are the ones, which were till recently only available
on a mainframe class of server. We believe that mainframe
users or customers who are looking for application deployment
on a mainframe will find Superdome a very good alternative
because of its price/performance. Today Superdome is the
most powerful Unix Server in the market place.
Most IT managers and industry analyst believe that UNIX
servers are far superior to NT-based systems. Will Itanium
with Whistler (Microsoft's forthcoming 64-bit operating
system) eventually change that opinion? What is your view
As per independent industry analysts such as Gartner &
IDC, the UNIX operating environment today has certain superior
features and functionality that make it the ideal platform
for mission critical applications. It is also projected
that UNIX will continue to be favourable for running enterprise
Brian Pereira can be reached at email@example.com