HP 3000 migrations to Unix trip up on a few fronts, but one hurdle is declining of late. Sales of the Itanium chipsets used in HP's Integrity servers are on the rise, measured both by sales and by percentage of market.
"While the server business is certainly mired in difficult times, the multifaceted community that surrounds Itanium-based systems has special cause for optimism," said Joan Jacobs, president and executive director of the Itanium Solutions Alliance. For more objective markers of Itanium — which must run servers at any site choosing HP-UX — the figures from IDC and Gartner analyst houses back up the claims of the Alliance.
Gartner's report might be most important, stating that in 2008 Itanium machine shipments outgrew RISC-based alternatives. Itanium grew in both sales and shipments, although revenues have not kept the same pace as discounting becomes steep in the non-Windows server world. HP is responsible for most of the Itanium increase. The vendor also has reduced its RISC-based sales to the point where more than 80 percent of HP's non-standard server dollars come from Integrity sales.
This is good news for an HP Unix community that has seen declines in HP's new-customer success, as well as a drop in the HP Unix training at the Connect HP Technology Forum. Selling this Intel-HP solution was not supposed to be this difficult, so the better figures of adoption give HP-UX some breathing room.
IDC pegged the Itanium shipments at an 18 percent rise for the final quarter of 2008. Intel's marketing group in Asia Pacific claims that the processor's business grew while IBM's Power line (the Series p and Series i) fell by 22 percent.
As we've reported before, the fate of the HP-UX alternative to the HP 3000 rests in the good health of Itanium/Integrity. HP has chosen not to port its Unix to any other processor, including the dominant x86 successor Xeon. The vendor is often the first to introduce servers which use the latest in the Itanium family. Intel has queued up it quad-core Tukwila chip as the next-generation 64-bit Itanium processor designed for use in enterprise servers.
The chip maker will now release Tukwila around the middle of this year, Intel officials said. The chip was due for release early this year, but Intel delayed it to add new capabilities to keep the chip in line with future technology advancements.
The Itanium Alliance's statement of good health included notice that high-profile migrations from mainframes are among the sweet spots for Itanium in a world dominated by x86.
"Even as the performance and scalability of x86 architectures make great progress," Jacobs said, "the inherent strengths of Itanium-based technology will continue to prove irreplaceable for mission-critical enterprise workloads, including large-scale databases and data warehousing; for the inevitable migration away from costly mainframes; and for intensive applications that rely on parallel processing, large memories and complicated algorithms."