By Timothy Prickett Morgan Hewlett-Packard Co will next week deliver a more e-business friendly version of its Unix operating system, HP-UX 11. The new release, which will ship on October 1 and will be included on all new N-class and V-class servers, will include HP’s E-speak brokering software as well as free versions of the […]
By Timothy Prickett Morgan
Hewlett-Packard Co will next week deliver a more e-business friendly version of its Unix operating system, HP-UX 11. The new release, which will ship on October 1 and will be included on all new N-class and V-class servers, will include HP’s E-speak brokering software as well as free versions of the Netscape Fast Track and Zeus Lite web servers and the Netscape LDAP Lite directory services. The new HP-UX 11 release will also support Common Data Security Architecture (CDSA), a meta-national encryption management scheme that allows companies to use the highest level of encryption available in any country to serve up web pages; the release will also include support for the IPSec security standard. Numerous web quality of service (WebQoS) enhancements have also been added to the new release that allow system administrators and webmasters to browse performance characteristics as users hit their applications, helping IT staff to monitor traffic congestion, site usage, server response time and take proactive steps to maintain better response times on transactions and browsing.
The new HP-UX will also include what HP is calling dynamic processor resilience and dynamic memory resilience, which allows HP servers to monitor their own processor and memory cards and take themselves offline as their data or processing responsibilities are transferred to other memory cards or processors.
All of these developments are part of HP’s campaign to deliver 99.999% availability to its server customers, and they appear to include some of the advancements that HP has been promising since 1997 under its Three Dimensional Architecture (3DA) HP-UX development partnership with Japanese mainframe giants NEC and Hitachi.
Having divorced SCO on developing a version of Unix for Intel’s IA-64 processors, HP started working with NEC and Hitachi in September 1997 on creating a more stable and modular HP-UX kernel for both PA-RISC and IA-64 processors. The three have been really quiet about what they are up to, but 3DA’s goals are pretty obvious. HP wants to bring the significant mainframe operating system experience that its Japanese partners have to bear in HP- UX, and which the vendors more or less got by copying IBM and learning from Big Blue’s hits and misses in mainframe software in the past two decades.
The multi-year joint development agreement between the three specifies how HP-UX 11 and later versions will evolve. All that is really known about 3DA is that the three are working on creating an exception architecture which is a series of kernel enhancements that will improve the processing error discovery and recovery capabilities of HP-UX. With the 3DA enhancements, HP-UX will be able to detect hardware and software errors quickly and accurately, and recover them immediately at the instruction level if possible. If not, then HP-UX will isolate that error to keep it from influencing the whole system and do everything possible to keep the server from crashing. Under current releases of HP- UX, for instance, if an I/O device like a disk controller fails, it takes down the whole system. (This is true of AIX and Solaris and all other Unixes, too.) With the exception architecture of 3DA, HP-UX will be able to isolate those applications dependent on the failed card, reroute those applications to other cards (if possible) and pause the application until the I/O card is replaced without causing the system to crash. It’s kind of like unplug and still play conceptually.
The important thing about 3DA is that the very guts of HP-UX are being changed in a way that will be transparent to its applications because the changes are in the operating system kernel, not in application programming interfaces that require customers or developers to change or recompile their applications. HP’s 3DA plan also includes advanced features such as online software patching of the operating system and online addition and replacement of CPU, memory and I/O cards in HP-UX servers. All of these will contribute mightily to the virtual elimination of downtime, and they are all targets of similar software development projects at Sun, IBM and Compaq. HP, NEC and Hitachi reportedly have thousands of programmers and tens of millions of dollars invested in the 3DA project.
The HP-UX roadmap calls for the company to deliver 64-way servers in the first half of 2000 as well as the PA-8600 RISC processors for these machines. The HP-UX shipped with these machines will have real-time software extensions, support NFS file systems over TCP/IP connections, support the IPV6 network protocol and 128- node Hyperplex clustering. HP-UX will at that time also be enhanced to provide the online addition and replacement of I/O cards – this on the N-class servers only at first – as well as up to 16 protected domains (software partitions) on a single server.
In the second half of 2000, a new version of HP-UX will come out that supports both the PA-8700 RISC processors and the Intel IA- 64 Merced processors. It will include support for the Veritas cluster file system as well, and will include features that will allow customers to manage multiple machines and multiple domains spread across those machines as if they were one physical machine. This HP-UX release is also expected to include dynamic replacement of memory and processor cards, as well as support for CDSA 2.0.