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HP tempts users with HP-UX for Itanium 2

Hewlett Packard is preparing for the launch of the first Intel Itanium 2-based servers by announcing that its new HP-UX operating system for Itanium will have all the functionality of HP-UX for PA-RISC processors.

HP-UX 11i, Version 1.6 is scheduled to ship in mid-July. Servers based on Intel's Itanium 2 chips are expected to arrive from HP some time this summer, Ram Appelaragu, director of marketing for the HP-UX operating environment, said.

With HP-UX 11i, Version 1.6, HP customers planning to purchase Itanium 2-based systems will enjoy all the enterprise-class tools previously only available to customers running servers powered by HP's more expensive PA-RISC chips, Appelaragu said.

"All the proven, mission-critical capabilities that we have always had in HP-UX for our own processor, namely PA-RISC, now become available for Itanium as well," he said.

"From a system manger's standpoint, they can't tell the difference whether it's an Itanium system or a PA-RISC system. The look and feel and consistency of all the interfaces are exactly identical between PA-RISC systems and Itanium systems," he said.

PA-RISC chips are in the process of being phased-out by HP, with the last PA-RISC-based servers expected to arrive in the spring of 2004, according to HP.

Upgradable without a reboot, HP-UX 11i, Version 1.6 can support up to 64 Itanium 2 or original Itanium processors, and can be clustered using HP's MC ServiceGuard clustering technology.

Workload management capabilities and process resources management tools within HP-UX 11i, Version 1.6 have also been brought over to Itanium from PA-RISC versions of the OS, Appelaragu said.

The new operating system includes a wide range of security features, such as host-based intrusion detection, directory enabled authentication, and high-performance encryption.

A Linux porting kit is available for customers wishing to run Linux applications on Itanium 2. A Linux run-time environment will become available for HP-UX 11i, Version 1.6 in the first half of 2003, Appelaragu said.

The integration of Compaq's True64 software tools from HP's acquisition of Compaq will begin to happen with HP-UX 11i, Version 1.6 in 2004.

Previous versions of HP-UX for PA-RISC servers were included in the price of the server. But unlike PA-RISC chips, Itanium processors also run the Windows operating system, so HP will begin charging Itanium server customers for HP-UX 11i, Version 1.6, Appelaragu said.

"We'll be licensing HP-UX for Itanium on a per-CPU basis. The cost will be $2,995 (£2,000) per CPU licence," Appelaragu said.

HP hopes to use the new operating system to entice PA-RISC customer to start migrating to an Itanium platform, said Tony Iams, a senior research analyst with DH Brown.

"This is the first serious effort for [HP] to start moving their PA-RISC users to industry-standard servers. But there is no question that once you move onto the industry-standard platform, you are not going to be able to charge the same kind of premiums that you could with PA-RISC," Iams said.

Because Intel chips are less expensive, HP understands that its OS revenue stream will become ever more critical as time goes by, Iams said.

"This is definitely a shift in their business model away from hardware," he said.

HP may also have an advantage over competitors such as IBM because HP has chosen to support three operating systems on Itanium - HP-UX, Windows, and Linux - whereas IBM will only offer Windows and Linux for its Itanium-based servers, said Iams, who added that Big Blue plans to keep its AIX OS running on its RISC-based Power processors.

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