HP gives 2000-ready upgrades

Future servers will be able to
host Unix and NT simultaneously.





SAN DIEGO—Holding out both a carrot and a stick to HP 9000 server
users, Hewlett-Packard Co. executives at the HP World ’98 conference here early this
month announced free upgrades for the HP-UX 9.04 operating system, which they said is not
ready for 2000.


The company also announced plans to bring out a sub-$3,500 Unix server later this year.


The conference, sponsored by the Interex group of Hewlett-Packard users based in
Sunnyvale, Calif., drew a crowd of 9,000 split between HP-UX and Microsoft Windows NT
users.


“We’re here to help customers get upgraded for Y2K,” said Karen Louie,
the company’s installed-base marketing programs manager. HP 9000 users now running
HP-UX 9.04 or earlier versions will get selected core HP-developed software along with an
upgrade to HP-UX 10.20, she said.


Although Hewlett-Packard made no official estimate of the number of HP 9000 servers
still running HP-UX 9.x, analyst Andrew Allison of Carmel, Calif., put the figure at about
15,000.


The OS upgrade offer is part of a program called Cure2000 that helps Hewlett-Packard
users set up test beds for their Unix applications and provides other resources to meet
the year 2000 deadline.


“Our specific challenge is our legacy or mature customer environment,” Louie
said. “Many users still have a ways to go to bring their legacy applications into
line.”


After upgrading the operating system, she said, sites also may have to change
date-processing routines and get new versions of their Unix applications.


Seeking to make applications available 99.99 percent of the time—the equivalent of
only five minutes of annual downtime—Hewlett-Packard is working to position its
scalable Unix servers as a robust alternative to IBM Corp.’s MVS operating system,
said Nick Earle, vice president and general marketing manager of the Enterprise Systems
Group.


Earle said the company will roll out products that run in a fault-tolerant mode with
mainframe-class features and tools, powered by Intel Corp.’s future IA64 processors.
He said future operating systems and database software, plus remote storage over fiber
connections, will boost application server performance up to 90 percent.


The low-cost, open architecture would avoid “DB2, CICS, the consultants needed to
support them and IBM’s 70 percent markup on mainframes,” Earle said.


Hewlett-Packard will work to present “one face for all product lines,” he
said, no longer compensating sales personnel for sales tied to a particular OS but
encouraging them to offer the best solution for a customer’s needs.


The company also wants to simplify the specification and ordering process, Earle said.
Buyers will no longer have to fill out an eight-page form to specify and price a K-Class
server, he said. The K-Class successor, due later this year, will need only one page of
specifications filled out on a Web site.


Users can order the new server either directly from Hewlett-Packard or from resellers
via the Web site, he said.


“For many years, we’ve been trying to fix the wrong problem,” Earle
said. “We’re taking complexity out.”


The ordering model is based on one used by Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif.,
which Earle said has resulted in 75 percent of Cisco sales originating on the Web.


The sub-$3,500 Unix server expected later this year is part of the move toward less
complexity, Earle said, but he declined to give details or arrival date.


Noting that Hewlett-Packard will soon ship its thousandth V-Class server, launched in
November 1997, Earle touted future servers that will have separate operating system
domains to host Unix and NT simultaneously.


Also, Earle said, there will be common elements among the company’s FoundationWare
developer tools for NT and Unix, letting programmers code on an NT platform and compile
for both OSes.


“For software developers, I’m talking about saving millions of dollars, and
for users, I’m also talking about substantial savings,” he said.


The choice to start from the NT development base came about, Earle said, because
“the tool set for software development on NT is racing ahead of Unix.”


Earle said that Hewlett-Packard promises to double processor performance of its servers
every year. Later this year, the company will launch the V2500, which will have a 32-way
architecture for PA-8500 RISC processors. The V2500 will process at a rate of up to
100,000 transactions per minute; an IA64 system will handle four times that many by around
2001, he said.


Hewlett-Packard’s collaboration with Intel on the IA64’s internal
architecture ensures that users who migrate their HP systems to the new processor will
encounter “no forced application rewrites, no data migration and no forced
recompilations,” Earle said.


About 90 percent of the performance gain from the IA64, or Merced, CPU will come from a
recompiled operating system and recompiled database programs, Earle said.


Software and Services Group vice president and general marketing manager Deborah Nelson
vowed continued support for HP OpenMail. She cited user comments that show messaging is
the leading driver behind Internet and intranet expenditures.


OpenMail has an installed base of 7 million seats, she said. The company has set up an
Enterprise Messaging Practice unit, as well as two Hewlett-Packard/Microsoft Exchange
Competency Centers in the United Kingdom and France. Two more centers will open in the
United States and Asia later this year, she said, to train about 1,000 engineers for
Exchange.


Nelson said Hewlett-Packard is helping Finnish telecommunications giant Nokia Corp.
design a 60,000-seat Exchange network that will transmit Exchange e-mail to pagers and
cellular phones. 

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