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HP fine-tunes VSE virtualization for Integrity servers

Hewlett-Packard shops running Integrity servers with Virtual Server Environment (VSE) have a raft of new feature enhancements to consider.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has issued a slew of enhancements to Virtual Server Environment (VSE), the venerable virtualization...

platform for its Intel Corp. Itanium-based Integrity server line running HP-UX, Windows, OpenVMS and Linux.

The enhancements run the gamut, from improved discovery by its HP Integrity Essentials Virtualization Manager, Linux support for HP ServiceGuard clustering and high-availability software, to the availability of virtualized hardware resources for software development partners.

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But don't look for any unifying threads that run through the specific announcements, said Jonathan Eunice, principal IT adviser with Illuminata Inc., an analyst firm in Nashua, N.H. "There are probably 30 or 40 little announcements here," he said. "I think of it as HP smoothing off a lot of sharp little edges … there's no single bright shining thing this does."

Whatever the case, HP called out several VSE enhancements as part of the announcement.

For example, users of the HP Integrity Essentials Virtualization Manager will find a new automated discovery feature for applications running within VSE partitions. "We can now discover all applications in the context of a virtual environment," said Ute Albert, HP marketing manager for virtualization. With this feature, IT administrators can see the relationship between an application and the VSE partition, its high-availability settings and the underlying physical environment.

For now, this new automated discovery capability is limited to HP-UX partitions, but could be extended to other supported VSE environments, like Windows and Linux, Albert said. For visibility into non-VSE environments, like VMware, HP VSE users would need to upgrade to Systems Insight Manager, HP's cross-platform management tool.

VSE shops that use VSE's policy engine, i.e., the Integrity Essentials Global Workload Manager, will find that its pay-per-use Instant Capacity pricing model has been tweaked. IT administrators can now set up policies that would restrict workloads from automatically accessing spare Instant Capacity, keeping down costs. At the same time, if a server goes down, HP has revised Instant Capacity licensing to allow users to share CPU licenses across physical boxes. "If a server is unreachable, you transfer the CPU usage rights off of the unreachable server," Albert said.

HP Integrity Essentials Capacity Advisor, meanwhile, is being promoted as a means to help customers migrate from Sun Solaris to HP-UX. However, Illuminata's Eunice called that idea "a bit overblown." "All they're doing is using an HP Open View performance agent," he said. "It's sort of a minor feature." Nevertheless, with that data in hand, Capacity Advisor can then recommend how to use virtualization techniques to run those Solaris workloads within a VSE partition, Albert said. The capacity advisor function also features new trending capabilities to forecast future usage data.

One last piece of news out of HP is the HP Partner Virtualization Program, which opens up internal HP resources to its ISV partners. Using a Web-based portal, ISV partners can log in up to one month in advance and reserve a virtual machine (VM) for testing and development.

ISV partners can choose from virtual environments running on HP ProLiant servers with VMware or VSE partitions on Integrity boxes. Support for both platforms enables ISVs to test x86-based operating systems, such as Windows, Linux and Solaris, as well as the Integrity-only platform HP-UX.

In particular, Albert believes the program will appeal to smaller ISVs that "don't want to invest in a lot of equipment," especially expensive Integrity hardware. The program is available to all members HP's ISV partner program.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director

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