Cross compatibility for HP utility platform

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Cross compatibility for HP utility platform

Will Garside
HP has announced that its utility computing platform will support Sun, Compaq and IBM architectures.

HP utility computing has only been available on HP equipment, so the move means customers can make the switch without switching to HP hardware.

"Few people understand just how strategic to HP utility computing really is," said Nick van der Zweep, director of HP utility computing division. "This is a project we have spent hundreds of millions of research dollars on, but we rarely talk about it outside HP and our customers.

"This is a fundamental change to how a company deploys IT. You no longer buy servers for the peak usage; you instead buy for the average usage. One of the first benefits of utility computing is that you have fewer servers and applications to manage because it is a much more efficient use of computing resources," he added.

Food giant Kellogg's, one of HP's first utility computing customers, is likely to be the first to integrate non-HP servers into its utility computing model. However, Van der Zweep admitted that more integration work is required to implement an existing system than a pre-configured HP system.

HP expects each utility computing customer to spend around $1m, but Van der Zweep confirms that early adopters have been either service providers or large corporations, which have larger infrastructures and therefore spend considerably more.

As HP has yet to train its channel in utility computing, the HP consulting and services group will pick up the bulk of the lucrative integration work.

The utility computing vision will turn disparate computing, applications and storage in a single IT system. "Essentially, utility data centre means that any application can be scaled up or down using any available resources in real time." Van der Zweep added.

The utility data centre concept is based around a pair of fault-redundant resource controllers that assign computing power to applications across a storage area network.

Each resource controller contains an Oracle database of every computing device within the network. Each device is managed by a small application, called a resource abstraction layer (RAL) driver, created by HP. RAL drivers cover several thousand products from vendors that include HP, Sun, Compaq and Cisco.

Van der Zweep said that RAL drivers for IBM AS400 and system S390 would be available within the next few months. "It's not so much a technical limitation, it is just that our first wave of customers required compatibility with Sun architecture," he said.

HP claims that each resource controller can manage any set of applications running over 600 servers with between one and 64 CPUs accessing up to 55Tbytes of data storage. Previously, HP's utility computing model was confined to its high-end Superdome server. Each controller can also form part of a cluster of up to 100 units.

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