HP launches new version of HP-UX 11i

Making one of its most public shows of faith in Unix to date, HP has launched a major new release of its HP-UX operating system while reiterating its future commitment to the HP-UX platform despite growing sales of Linux-based servers.

HP-UX 11i v3, which begins shipping today, includes several operational and technology changes, despite having a name that suggests it is merely a point release. The new OS features several operational improvements for use in the data centre, including optimisation and deployment support for virtualisation platforms, improved hot-swap support for hardware components including memory, processors and I/O cards - allowing for direct replacement of faulty components without minimal or often no downtime.

The new version of HP-UX also allows administrators to dynamically move memory among virtual partitions on the fly, simplifying the process of managing and supporting systems running multiple virtual mission-critical instances. Grid computing processes allow virtualised instances to be distributed across disparate servers and data centres, and in the event of a complete or partial data centre failure, instances can be transferred on the fly to another data centre or box with available capacity without interruption to users and running applications.

However, the key change in the OS is the optimisation of the kernel, which can now deliver significant performance boosts to existing applications without having to recompile or make any code changes. Performance gains are claimed to be as high as 30 per cent, depending on the application, using your existing hardware when compared to HP UX 11i v2.

"There really is no need to recompile your applications to experience an improvement in operational performance, the new version is completely code-compatible with anything that currently runs properly on v2" said Nick van der Zweep, HP's director of virtualisation and utility computing.

"Applications will run 30 per cent faster on average, on existing hardware. We have also rewritten the mass storage stack to support 100 million zettabytes of storage on a single system" he added. With one zettabyte equal to one billion terabytes, this larger limit is unlikely to be pushed by a single user any time soon, but nonetheless illustrates the focus HP is placing on the need to manage and be able to address large volumes of both storage and processing power as companies continue to look at distributing data centre resources and improve use of spare capacity, on-demand processing resources and minimise wasted energy.

Other operational changes introduced in v3 include an overhauled patch management system. Servers running v3 can now take and run a snapshot of the system while patches are installed, reducing the number of reboots needed and ensuring servers can keep running in peak periods even while critical patches and updates are applied to the system.

"We think we can get even more performance gains from the current code base through further optimisation and smart thinking about how we use the platform and applications on it" said van der Zweep.

HP is also shipping a revised version of HPjmeter Java monitoring and profiling tool for developers. HPjmeter 3.0 provides live views of application behaviour, root cause analysis and application behaviour modelling to help developers building Java based applications and processes for both HP-UX 11i v3 and older versions.