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3/20/2006
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HP Rolls Out Speedier Servers, New Virtualization Software

Superdome servers can handle up to 30% more workload than HP's previous generation.

Hewlett-Packard on Monday rolled out a new generation of mid- and high-end Unix-based servers powered by its sx2000 chip set, code-named Arches, along with improved virtualization and management software.

On the strength of the company's new chipset, the HP Integrity rx7640, rx8640 and Superdome servers are capable of handling up to 30 percent more workloads than the previous generation of servers that used the sx1000 chip set. The enhanced HP Virtual Server Environment (VSE) software allows the servers to cut in half the time it takes to bring some virtualization projects online, company officials claim.

"What is important about VSE is it allows users to dynamically and automatically shift resources from one application to another based on service-level agreements," says Nick Van der Zweep, HP's director of virtualization and Integrity server software. "As more users log on to one server compared to others in that environment, VSE will provide the resources it needs to meet the terms of that contract."

Along with the new hardware offering, HP is supplying the HP-UX 11i reference architectures and toolkits for the VSE, which is designed to help customers bring virtualization projects online significantly faster when using software from BEA, Oracle, SAP and IBM. Company officials claim, for instance, that a VSE implementation with BEA WebLogic that normally would take anywhere from 17 to 34 weeks to complete can now be fully planned out and deployed in four to seven weeks.

Analysts believe HP's new systems are well-timed given what they believe is increasing demand among corporate users for speedier servers capable of deploying a variety of virtualization technologies.

"The global market opportunity for the replacement of RISC- and CISC-based server environments in existence today is nearly a $24 billion proposition, and one that vendors are attacking fiercely," says Andrew Butler, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Vendors that can approach customers with enhanced system capabilities that speak to today's need for sophisticated virtualization, management tools and capacity boosts are taking a step in the right direction."

In concert with the new servers, HP also debuted enhanced solutions for HP-UX 11i disaster-tolerance and security capabilities, new configuration options for HP Integrity NonStop servers and new HP-UX 11i management tools intended to simplify data center operations.

Some of the new disaster-tolerance features include intercontinental failover of Oracle 10g environments and support for Sonet, a lower-cost networking option for disaster recovery. The systems also feature new HP Serviceguard Extensions for SAP that boost the speed of high-availability solutions for HP-UX 11i and Linux running on HP Integrity servers.

HP also rolled out simpler systems management software, including its Distributed Systems Administration Utilities, which let an administrator synchronize as many as 500 instances of HP-UX 11i. The company also debuted a beefed-up version of its Systems Insight Manager, a management tool capable of automatically discovering applications existing in the HP VSE.

The entry-level price of the rx7640 is $43,500 for a model with two processors and 4 GB of memory, while the rx8640 starts at $76,500 for the same configuration. Pricing on the Superdome models was not available.

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