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Issue Date: June 2007

HP pursues telcos with new entry NonStop server

7 June 2007
Timothy Prickett Morgan

Server makers that have invested large sums of money over the years into sophisticated, non-standard server architectures are always looking for new niches they can chase to boost sales or hold them steady in a market that is increasingly dominated by X64 processors running Windows, Linux, and sometimes Unix. And so it is with Hewlett-Packard and its fault-tolerant NonStop server line.
HP has announced a new entry configuration of the NonStop machine and a homegrown stack of switching software aimed specifically at small telecommunications companies — particularly those in emerging markets.
Like other recent NonStop machines, the hardware in the new NS3000AC is based on HP's Integrity line of Itanium-based servers. Specifically, the NS3000AC is based on the Integrity rx2660 server, which is a two-socket box that supports Intel's dual-core 'Montecito' Itanium 9000 processors running at either 1,4 GHz or 1,6 GHz; customers can also use single-core 'Madison' Itanium 2 processors running at 1,6 GHz, but there is simply no compelling reason to do that.
The rx2660 can support up to 32 GB of main memory and has three PCI slots for peripheral expansion. When used as a NonStop machine, these rx2660 servers are modified to include the fault-tolerant ServerNet interconnection technology for linking machines together to share work. The NonStop machine runs an operating system called the NonStop kernel, a variant of Unix that has a network-aware, clustered, relational database that speaks SQL. The NS3000AC comes with two rx2660 chasses, but only one of the processor sockets is populated with a processor, which means each chassis has a single dual-core processor for supporting NonStop; the other socket is not populated because the NonStop system thinks at the chassis level, not at the CPU socket level, and the software is not designed to cope with a situation where one socket is working and the other one is not.
Each chassis in the NonStop NS3000AC server can have either 4 GB or 8 GB of main memory, and HP is only supporting the 1,6 GHz/6 MB cache variant of the Montecito chip in this box.
Customers can cluster up to four chasses together in the NS3000AC box. The setup can also support up to 9 TB of external storage. According to Bob Kossler, director of the Integrity NonStop product line within HP's Business Critical Systems unit, the stack of telco software that HP is peddling atop this iron includes various wares from its OpenCall division in its software unit. The OpenCall software hooks into Signaling System 7 (SS7) telco networks and supports myriad telco protocols and standards. HP is also partnering with CBoss, a Russian software company that has a realtime billing module for small telecommunications companies called CBoss rtBilling, to add billing capabilities to the stack.
A two chassis version of the NonStop NS3000AC server will cost around $300 000 to $350 000, depending on the amount of disk capacity and including all of the HP NonStop and telco software. Kossler says that the offering is designed to compete against entry Unix setups -- particularly those created on Solaris or carrier-grade Linux. Solaris was the dominant platform for telcos until fairly recently, along with a smattering of HP-UX, AIX, and Linux.
Kossler says that the NS3000AC is available worldwide, but HP is expecting it to sell well among small telcos in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Asia/Pacific region -- particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In all of these areas, there is a mix of state-sponsored and independent telecommunications firms of the size where this box is appropriate.
The new NonStop box focused on small telcos mirrors another offering that HP announced in April, but this one, called Neoview, was aimed at giant data warehousing workloads and brought much larger NonStop iron to bear.
Source: Computergram


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