Sunday, February 19, 2012

A head start on Vegas!

The chance to exchange emails with Martin Fink helped firm up my perspective on Project Odyssey and the news looks good for the NonStop community …

What is it about the business trips that I take to Southern California at this time of the year, particularly when they include a lay-over in Las Vegas? Is it the glamor of the strip? The warm weather that comes as such a relief following winters chills here, in Colorado? Or is it that with the holiday season well and truly behind us we start to think about what’s coming next?

I have always been a slow starter at this time of year and I usually spend weekends catching up on my reading – books, magazines, as well as lots of blog postings that I had put to one side. There was a lot of variety as in among the usual car and motorcycle magazines, travel and vacation newsletters, etc. was the recent issue of The Connection together with several press clippings from a number of electronic publications that I had printed.

The picture above was just taken on the strip, looking back at the Venetian and the Palazzo hotels where this year’s HP Discover will be held and the contrast with some of the photos included in November and December posts couldn’t be greater – winter’s ice and snow had become little more than a distant memory. And for the NonStop community, the recent headlines about HP may be having a similar effect.  Even with my slow start to the year, what I saw in these stories assured me that HP was making all the right moves.

The headlines I am referring to appeared late last year as the news of HP’s embracing the Intel  x86 architecture – a project that HP called Odyssey. In the post of November 22, 2011, on the site eWeek mobile, Burt told readers that HP’s Odyssey project will “innovate on the current high-end HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop solutions and Integrity servers running on Intel's Itanium processing platform, while also developing blade servers powered by Intel's Xeon chips that can run mission-critical applications that call for high availability, scalability and reliability within Microsoft Windows and Linux environments.”

Just a day later, on November 23, 2011, there was a similar post in the ServerWatch section of the electronic publication, ITBusinessEdge, “HP to Unify Unix and x86 Server Architectures.” Reporter Thor Olavsrud quoted HP Senior Vice President and General Manager of Business Critical Systems (BCS), Martin Fink, as having said “clients have been asking us to expand the mission-critical experience that is delivered today with HP-UX on Integrity to an x86-based infrastructure. HP plans to transform the server landscape for mission-critical computing by using the flexibility of HP BladeSystem and bringing key HP technology innovations from Integrity and HP-UX to the x86 ecosystem."

Reporter Olavsrud then quoted IT hardware and data networking analyst with ISI Group, Brian Marshall, “Project Odyssey in our view is the right vision and strategy but is long-term in nature and will take about two years to materialize. We view this as another example in recent weeks of HP leverage strong internal assets (e.g., Integrity servers, NonStop systems, HP-UX, etc.) for compelling organic R&D."

Innovate on the current high-end HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop solutions! Transform the server landscape for mission-critical computing by using the flexibility of HP BladeSystem! Not to mention, leverage strong internal assets (e.g., Integrity servers, NonStop systems, HP-UX, etc.) for compelling organic R&D! Innovate, transform, leverage – all powerful stuff when it comes to this latest program of HP that will give us “Intel's Xeon chips that can run mission-critical applications that call for high availability, scalability and reliability!”

For those who may not be familiar with the landscape between Boulder, Colorado, and Las Vegas, Nevada, there are many summits that need to be crossed – outside Denver, the Continental Divide has to be climbed, then Vail Summit, too, has to be traversed. Then it’s a twisting passage along the Colorado River for the descent into Glenwood Springs. But on entering Utah, there’s another series of passes before you descend into a rich and fertile valley that runs south into Nevada. The final stretch into Las Vegas kicks off with another spectacular canyon passage that cuts through a small corner of Arizona before dropping you into the deserts of Nevada. So much variety in less than a thousand miles with a landscape that changes as you round each turn!

As cliché-rich as this description is, it’s hard not to make comparisons with the journey NonStop has taken ever since HP became involved. Much of what I have posted to this blog to do with my own predictions of where NonStop is headed hasn’t turned out to be completely accurate and yet, some of these forecasts from as far back as four years ago still hold up. Among the most persistent of my predictions is that the commoditization journey will eventually lead us to where all BCS platforms will     be based on the same components.

In the post of February 12, 2008, “‘
MyWish’ for NS Blades”,  to Real Time View, I acknowledged how I believed that HP would ship NS Blades sometime mid-to-late summer that they would utilize the c-Class blade enclosure (BladeSystem c7000), and I said that  my first wish was to see HP BCS deliver on the slide-ware Martin Fink first unveiled as the “Shared Infrastructure Blades” package at the previous year’s HPTF&E event. In the post of February 13, 2011, “Threeyears on, and three more wishes!” I returned to this topic, this time suggesting that I would like to see a chassis populated with commodity blades that are physically identical, and which can run any operating system we chose, including NonStop. So here it is, February a year later, and it’s time for another update on where I see this all headed.

Among the commentaries there were public statements made by HP in November, including one press release that stated quite simply how “HP’s new development roadmap includes ongoing innovations to HP Integrity servers, HP NonStop systems and the HP-UX and OpenVMS operating systems. The roadmap also includes delivering blades with Intel® Xeon® processors for the HP Superdome 2 enclosure (code name “DragonHawk”) and the scalable c-Class blade enclosures (code named “HydraLynx”), while fortifying Windows® and Linux environments with innovations from HP-UX within the next two years.”

It may be winter, and I may still be slow, but it’s hard to miss just how important the HP BladeSystem has become for the NonStop community and how important a role the c-Class Enclosure is playing. HP literature at the time of the announcement of the NB54000c provided even more clarity when it said “The NB54000c is built on the proven HP Integrity BL860c i2 (blade) using the standard HP c-Class Enclosure c7000 (chassis) to host NonStop server blades”

Yes, the BladeSystem points to a future of even greater exploitation of commodity components and packaging. The only thing that will distinguish one blade from another will be the all-important mezzanine card in support of the connectivity to the (internal) networking fabric – in the case of NonStop, this will continue to be ServerNet for a little while longer.

While much has been made about the all-inclusiveness of Project Odyssey particularly as it relates to x86 becoming an integral part of the mission-critical portfolio from BCS, it should be remembered, according to Martin Fink, that "Project Odyssey isn't just about x86 but about our continuing investment in HP-UX, OpenVMS, Integrity (based on the Intel Itanium processor) and NonStop. When viewed all together, particularly should you be using NonStop, this represents great investment protection - a message I am sure all of the NonStop community must appreciate."

And with the continued exploitation of commodity components and packaging will come less footprint, and indeed always-significant improvements in price performance reflected in possible decreases in pricing in selected marketplaces. Yes, it is all suggesting that the steps I had predicted are now being taken and that being able to mix and match blades in the same enclosure is becoming a reality! Not that we will have the capability to run NonStop on x86 or Windows on Itanium quite yet, and possibly not at all, but having just a single enclosure to house all our blades is a great next step for all HP customers.

I have a sense, however, that we are just only seeing the beginning of further transformations. Innovation is thriving within HP, and yes, strong internal assets will continue to be leveraged. Winter will soon pass and spring will be upon us, and for those who have checked out all that’s been written of late by me, not only has the ice and snow been melting, but we are beginning to see things more clearly.

 As for the next time I pass through Las Vegas it will be for HP Discover and I can’t wait to hear what HP has in stall for us when next we all meet! As for me, I will be the one carrying a stack of “Fools for NonStop” shirts, that’s for sure!!!

1 comment:

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