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Supporting More by Doing Less, But Better

2 Ways HP Eats Its Own Dog Food

When a system supplier touts a product, it's one level of endorsement. When that supplier uses the same system to run its own operations, that's a more significant marker. HP's Unix and Integrity spokesmen are talking about Hewlett-Packard eating its own dog food: The HP-UX server environments they'd like to see replace your HP 3000s.

The Web posts at are written by spokesmen like Jacob Van Ewyk, who works in Business Critical Systems Marketing. He reported that HP's own internal IT ops use Integrity and Superdome servers in two ways: to service specialized mission-critical applications, as well as providing a smaller footprint for company-wide apps. While such stuff is written to promote HP's servers, it's also an insight into new technology terms and insider IT organization. A customer asked Van Ewyk if HP had its own dog food on the IT menu.

One of topics I addressed is whether we use HP Integrity servers and HP-UX 11i in our internal infrastructure. Indeed, we do. While it may also be used for exception types of projects (ex. Mission critical environments that can't use our standard services), both our Shared Application Server and Shared Database Server environments utilize application stacking in HP-UX 11i, Serviceguard (and Serviceguard Extensions for RAC in the database environment), Virtual Server Environment, and more.

Application stacking, you might ask? A new term for a familiar concept. HP 3000s have always hosted many applications on a single server. This was often not the case in the Unix environments of the early 21st Century, though. It was often one app to a server, with many instances of HP-UX -- running multiple points of failure.

TECHNOLOGY BUZZWORDS spring up when a vendor wants a fresh look from established customers, even though the concepts may be a little stale. Application stacking is not quite the same as multiple apps running on a single 3000 server. The element of virtualized servers makes the stacking a little different. But consultant Stephen Hoffman of Hoffman Labs believes the differences are not so great, even if he does work with them in his OpenVMS Integrity and Mac OS X Server projects.

Application stacking is simply terminology used to discuss server virtualization. For running multiple applications on one or more virtual machines. For using Xen or VMware or HP-UX and HP-VM, or other such. For stuffing — stacking — both existing and new applications onto the same or fewer hardware boxes. For server consolidation.

The stacking concept does help HP IT maintain its top-notch green rating, since it eliminates servers that were once needed to support an enterprise-grade computing operation. HP is all about saving money on power to its datacenters these days, enough to impress Newsweek in its Green Rankings of America's 500 largest corporations. HP earned the Number One spot in the environmental survey. (This may not be a favorite topic of some of the most veteran 3000 gurus, but Newsweek was impressed that HP reports reduced greenhouse gas emissions related to its supply chain.)

HP 3000s continue to do many things well at corporations much smaller than HP, as well as a few much larger. But a Series 9x9 3000, or one even older, draws a lot of power compared to newer technology. Application stacking, or multiple apps, don't have to consume so much wattage. You might be able to get greener by way of migrating, a result that could add two flavors of green to your bottom line.