August 03, 2015
HP-UX marks time after five years
When we last visited the HP-UX roadmap, the journey's destination was advice about when to expect the end of 11i v3 support. Plans for system and platform futures have changed greatly since that article of August, 2010. Back then, customers looked like they'd be facing a 2017 end of HP support for the version of the OS that replaced some MPE installations. The good news is that HP-UX support has now been promised through 2025.
The bad news is that HP's dropped plans to introduce any fresh generations of the OS. According to HP's 2015 roadmap, 11i v4 or v5 are nowhere to be seen. HP now plans to carry v3 from 2007 to 2025. An 18-year lifespan for an enterprise OS's major release is remarkable. Serving the expanding needs of enterprise customers with such a base OS, one that's eight years old today, is unprecedented at HP.
These roadmaps change, and sometimes the adjustments jettison implied promises which can form the bedrock of IT investment planning. The current hardware that runs HP-UX is Intel's star-crossed Itanium chipset in the Integrity servers. Support for HP-UX on the PA-RISC HP 9000s ended last year.
Five years have elapsed since any HP roadmap promised a newer future. This year's version of the HP-UX roadmap shows no forward march in a major release. HP's Unix is marking time, but there are promises of some refreshment. Like any platform roadmap of our modern era, the one for HP-UX "is not a commitment to deliver any material, code or functionality and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions." HP 3000 managers who remember 3000-centric conference roundtables will recall what those public promises add up to. Any of those managers who put dollars into Unix are looking at a future with few changes.In our research today we found this opinion about platform futures: "The hardware-software vendor dichotomy is so 20th Century." The comment was offered in reply to a chart that tracks the fortunes of technology suppliers. HP's valuation has waned while new-gen companies like Google and Apple have soared. But only one company that builds its own OS and hardware has seen its valuation soar: Apple. It's a mobile-hardware supplier in its predominant facet by now. And Apple promises nothing about prior OS release support.
However, that's not a market that's in decline like Unix (even though the heart of Apple's OS X is Unix). Choices for mobile environments can now command as much spending as a company's purchase of enterprise environments. But on average, the individual company's investment in HP-UX far outstrips any mobile choice.
What's a company that's commited to HP-UX to do? HP says they should mark time and stay put as long as they want, at least another decade. But with the final release of Itanium's chip line coming this year, and HP-UX parked at a major release that made its debut in 2007, signs point to much easier management for Unix customers who've bought from Hewlett-Packard. Such is the outlook for a company that's bought into HP-UX, a slide toward a stable environment that borders on static as the next 10 years roll by.
The refreshes are more than nothing at all — that post-2007 limbo that MPE/iX fell into. Improved IO and storage management, faster recovery times, extended data security, better and more dynamic virtualization uptime, converged infrastructure and cloud management: these are all that the Unix customer is being promised as of this year. Timing on these is as fluid as anything promised to MPE/iX from 2003-10. When to change horses for software platforms is a question for this year's IT planning, unless a 10-year march in place is a better strategy. HP 3000 customers have done that. They've done it without HP's support ever since the year that previous, v4/v5 HP-UX roadmap emerged.
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