The latest blade system from HP is the company's first blade to venture outside the x86 architecture and into the high-availability territory of Integrity engineering, and the first to exploit multiple operating systems and virtualisation in a single unit.
Alongside the blade, HP launched another system, available as a standard rack-mount server or as an Integrity desktop, together with an upgrade to its HP-UX operating system.
At the same time, the company said it has cut prices. A chassis half full with four of the new blades and running HP-UX will cost €50,000 (£20,188), with prices starting from €3,000 for a single blade. The HP Integrity BL860c blade is available with either Intel's Itanium 2 or AMD's Opteron processors, and fits into the c Class chassis, which was introduced in June last year.
The new system is the first to enable HP to deliver a single blade rack running a mixture of HP-UX, Windows and Linux blades, or with virtualised operating systems, said Malcolm Garstang, UK marketing manager for HP business critical systems.The net result is that within one Integrity architecture, multiple virtual systems running HP-UX, Linux, OpenVMS or Microsoft Windows can co-exist offering flexibility of deployment, he added.
The latest version of HP-UX 11i , version 3, has been designed to exploit this flexibility and now has a huge data space capacity to accommodate multiple virtualised systems. According to the company, the virtual space available on the Integrity is 100 zettabytes (one zettabyte is equal to one billion terabytes), an impossibly large space to contemplate in a standard business environment.
The new system has hot-swap and online patching capabilities, in rack or blade environments.
"This is a flexible environment that takes virtualisation to another level," said Garstang. "Most companies get to the soft-partition stage but this goes past that to high-availability and full systems management. You only get true virtualisation with all three."
Garstang believes that the HP BL860c blade system marks the first time that the company has brought together all the features introduced last year in the original blade announcement. "What we now have is flexibility," he said. "We can have different combinations of HP/UK and Linux but we can now mix ProLiant [HP's system pitched below the Integrity] with Integrity in the same box with the same power supplies, the same storage the same everything."
Garstang explained: "You can take a ProLiant server and an Integrity side by side and you cannot tell the difference until you open it up, look inside and you will see the processors are different. That's the only difference."
The new rack-mounted server, the Integrity n2660 costs €5,000, making it the lowest-priced complete Integrity rack mounted system, according to Garstang.
The HP Integrity BL860c: the first Integrity blade server