Where else can you get wired?
October 21, 2008
HP detailed in more than 50 slides this summer what the vendor is working on in the wireless and new network protocol technologies. Last week we took note of some of the innovative topologies. There's a lot to improve in networking, a technology which has become the keystone to enterprise computing utility. HP is engineering many additions.
For example, Senior Technologist Fred Worley of HP brought along a slide deck that described 802.22 – WRAN, a Wireless Regional Area Network that delivers broadband access over unused TV channels. Uses include Rural broadband support, a disaster recovery link for remote data centers, rapid deployment of T1 to T3 level service, and a Last Mile solution for residential customers.
WRAN might not be in the near-term requirements for your enterprise networking. But if manufacturing moves to rural envionments in China, for example, requiring network links, now there's a purpose for such a standard. And Worley was not shy about saying that Hewlett-Packard's labs – the ones still working on enterprise computing in 2009, unlike the ones for the HP 3000 — can offer the best, most complete solutions.
"These are technologies that we are driving," Worley said at the end of his hour-plus talk, one where he spoke as rapidly as any auctioneer. "And if you want to find the people who are building this technology, and know not only how to design it and put it into products, but know it so deeply that we're inventing it, and can ensure that knowledge is out there as a standard, and can bring it back and build it into products, you're at the right place."
As evidence of HP's prowess in networking futures, he put up a slide listing the vendor's breakthroughs and participations. Toward the end of the slide deck, of course, HP hedged a bit by saying that the networking advances were going to come from the entire industry, not just HP. That is the only strategy that works; it does no good to engineer wizardry which other suppliers like IBM won't talk with. Is HP the best place to get networking on the cutting edge, the kind that other suppliers understand and implement less adeptly? Worley showed HP's mastery of the details as an argument in favor of making HP your networking supplier.
Your current vendor, he pointed out, was a founding member of the PCI SIG, RDMA Consortium, ICSC, and IBTA groups. As such, it provided lead developers, authors, and co-chairs of numerous industry workgroups:
- Electrical and Protocol for PCI, PCI-X, PCI-X 2.0, SHPC
- Protocol, Electrical, Graphics, Mechanical, Software, etc. for PCI Express
- 10GbE, Backplane Ethernet, QoS, Encryption, etc. for IEEE 802
- RDMA, SDP, iSER for RDMA Consortium as well as iWARP within the IETF
- iSCSI protocol, SNS, etc. for complete storage over IP solutions, SAS, T10/T11, etc.
- Interconnect Software Consortium – APIs for new Sockets and RDMA services
HP "sets the industry direction by focusing on customers," a claim which on the face of it does not sound all that unique an approach. But the vendor will deliver, or already has, on everything mentioned above.
These are industry-wide workgroups, though, which means that HP's competitors for your migration dollars also are also at work on supporting and implementing these technologies in products. Hewlett-Packard still doesn't look ready to re-embrace the "you can only find it here" flavor of technology which built MPE, IMAGE, Apollo's Domain networking or the flexibility and resilience of VMS.
But if proprietary advantages are a thing of the past, HP seems to have a plan for using everything that can be created as a standard to let networking improve existing technologies. RDMA services, for example, are Remote Direct Memory Access protocols which began with Infinband and have now moved into a new generation with iWARP, using RDMA over Ethernet.
HP combines RDMA with Networked Attached Storage (NAS), for example. The generations march forward once more this month with the expected Open Fabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) standard v 1.4. And here's where HP's networking futures look like they can be had on other vendor platforms. HP's own slide says that OFED features like IB reliable multicast, NFS-RDMA, and SDP zero copy have been "Adopted by major Linux distributions, with Linux iWARP and IB support in OFED v1.3, and Windows support for WinOF 1.2 and 1.3 expected by the end of this year."
Some HP 3000 customers will need to turn over Worley's details to a networking architect or guru, or a migration advisor (outsourced) if no such expert is on the company IT staff. You can download a copy of the Powerpoint slide deck he used — well, at least cruised through some major portions — right here. (Fair warning, it's a 12MB file. Not a download challenge if you have a state of the art network, eh?) It's worth considering that networking technologies will be offered by many suppliers, no matter where they were invented.