TruCluster for HP-UX canned

HP has abandoned its project to make its Alpha clustering technology available on HP-UX, a move which may provide an opportunity for HP's competitors to entice its AlphaServer customers
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor
HP has abandoned plans to include TruCluster, its in-house clustering technology, on its proprietary HP-UX operating system, the company said on Thursday.

It had initially planned to complete the migration of the TruCluster/AdvFS feature from Tru64 Unix to HP-UX 11i v3 in the middle of 2006. Tru64 Unix, which runs on the AlphaServer platform, is being phased out along with AlphaServer, meaning that HP customers will need to move to HP-UX running on HP9000 or Itanium servers.

This project has been cancelled in favour of a combined solution with storage firm Veritas. HP is working with Veritas to integrate HP-UX 11i and Serviceguard with Veritas' volume management and file system products, and plans to release a combined product for HP-UX 11i v2 in the third quarter of 2005.

Peter Kraft, HP's European director of business critical systems, said the company decided to work with Veritas to enable it to bring improved virtualisation and clustering capabilities to market sooner.

"Nothing has gone wrong with development on TruCluster -- it wasn't a technical decision," said Kraft. "We realised the capabilities that the Veritas product has developed would allow us to come up with a solution a year earlier. This also enables us to provide a more broadly accepted, standardised solution that is not only available on HP."

Neil Macehiter, a research director at Ovum, said HP has made a practical decision as Veritas already works on HP-UX.

"It seems to me like a pragmatic move from HP," said Macehiter. "They have avoided the engineering effort of transferring TruCluster from the Alpha to the HP-UX environment."

But Alpha customers are likely to be unhappy with HP's decision as the change to a new clustering application will complicate the overall migration effort, according to Macehiter.

"The transition to Veritas does increase complexity," said Macehiter. "It will increase concern that customers have, especially as companies tend to run high-performance mission critical applications on the cluster. There are not only forced to move away from Alpha, but they will also have to change their file systems."

Macehiter said that Sun, one of HP's main competitors, may be able to exploit its decision to persuade customers to move from AlphaServer to Sun's Solaris platform.

"Some of HP's competitors may seek a tactical opportunity, by saying to HP's Alpha customers that the complexity of moving to HP-UX is not that different from moving to Solaris," said Macehiter.

Sun has already tried to persuade customers to move, through making public statements that 'HP-UX is dead', which HP vehemently denied, saying that it was committed to HP-UX for the long term.

Kraft said that as the Veritas product is commonly used in the market, the migration for Alpha customers should not be difficult. "Alpha customers have said to us, 'we want to take advantage of a common clustering environment'," said Kraft. Also, HP is integrating its management tools with those of Veritas which will make it easier to use, said Kraft.

HP plans to make the Veritas solution available on Linux sometime in 2006, enabling its Itanium customers to chose between the open-source operating system and its own proprietary operating system, according to Kraft. Some in the industry may see this as a sign of the demise of HP-UX, but Kraft denied this and said it was merely offering its customers a choice.

"Who knows where the market is going -- for years there have been forecasts from analysts about the end of Unix," said Kraft. "But it hasn't happened. The Unix market continues to be very healthy. Specifically, unlike other vendors, we let customers choose which operating system they run."

Only 25 percent of HP Itanium sales are in Linux or Windows, according to Kraft.

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