Smoke off the show floor
OpenMPE gathers help, hope at Forum

Customers moving, HP exits

Here on the fourth day of the HP Technology Forum, customers have told stories of their plans and accomplishments moving off the 3000 and onto other platforms. Attendees at the Forum are migration-minded, mostly, some with field experience in moving apps to HP-UX and Windows. Others are still in the planning stage, but nearly every body in the lightly-attended e3000 sessions kept migration as their primary mission.

At the same time, most of HP's 3000 experts have taken to the skies by today. The exhibition floor closed last night with a well-attended food and free drinks reception: Asian shrimp salad (some wags warned their pals to 'watch the spinach") well-heeled wedges of cheeses, fruits and assorted pastry confections, beers from Bud Light to Heineken and Texas' favorite, Shiner Bock.

While we all held what must have been the smallest reception plates in my memory, we talked about the future for the moving 3000 shop. George Willis of investment firm Fayez Sarofim said his multiple N-Class installation will become an HP-UX Integrity shop in 18 months. He's moving an application with some modules more than 20 years old, taking the transfer as the first phase of his project. Willis has been a happy 3000 user, but simply faced with needing IT resources a homesteaded site would struggle to provide. Like many, Willis says he will shed a tear when the 3000 lights go out, sometime in 2008.

HP showed off the power and value of its newest entry-level Integrity systems, the rx3600 and rx6600, at a briefing late yesterday. These systems promise an 82 percent improvement in power by using the Montecito chips from Intel's Itanium line. These chips have been long in coming; HP was talking about a production release of Montecito-based servers for late 2005.

But the 3600 has a four-way, dual core processor capability, and the 6600 goes 8-way with dual cores. A customer can get into a 3600 for about $30,000, according to Integrity reseller and 3000 expert Terry Floyd of the Support Group and Entsgo. The new systems also feature a new kind of drive, the Serial Attached SCSI devices. HP called the peripherals "the new universal drive," smaller in form factor and including a mirroring functionality right on the drive. It's not RAID 5, HP said, but it will eliminate the need for Mirrored Disk UX in mission-critical environments.

The greatest improvement that HP adds to the industry-wide Montecito is HP's zx2 chipset, providing 33 percent more CPU bus bandwidth than the zx1 and 66 percent more memory bus bandwidth. The chipset also includes a ROM cache to decrease boot time. Using HP-UX still requires reboots to patch up security vulnerabilities, although the vendor is working on HP-UX technology to integrate more of those weekly patches without bringing an Integrity server down.

HP also talked about discontinuance of these newest hardware models. In today's HP-speak, "discontinuance is not obsolescence" because a server user can still buy upgrades for a year after discontinuance. Then HP pulls the Integrity server into a maintenance support phase, something like the five years and counting which MPE/iX has had. This discontinuance calendar is something for HP 3000 buyers of even the newest Integrity systems to watch. The popular rx4640, rx2620 and even the bare-bones rx1620 are headed for a discontinuance in about a year.

HP gives these 4640 and 2620 customers an upgrade kit to get the faster Montecito processors into their systems. 4640 and 2620 Integrity units must make do with their slower zx1 chipsets, however. The newest entry-level 3600 and 6600 servers are headed for a 2009 discontinuance, which amounts to about a three-year active life cycle.