It's like watching grass grow, but less exciting. Every three years, HP puts out a new version of HP-UX 11i, then every six months it issues updates and patches, more or less like Microsoft releases service packs. So there wasn't really any news in this latest, except to say that HP had released an update to 11i-v3. In February, when the orginal release came, there were significant upgrades, including performance improvements and a new file system that can address 100 zettabytes.
The operating system also gets an update to its physical partitioning features -- something that sets it apart from Sun and IBM. Essentially, SuperDome servers can allocate and deallocate cell boards (two- and four-processor blades with lots of memory), creating electrically isolated partitions. Security and fault tolerence are the benefits.
But what really struck me about my conversation with HP was its commitment to platforms that will never grow significantly. For instance, HP still maintains OpenVMS to the extent that it has ported it from the Alpha processor -- which it still supports -- to the Itanium, which is the processor of choice for HP's business-critical computing group.
There's a good reason, of course. For example, the U.S. Postal Service still runs its mail sorters on OpenVMS; that's a pretty big customer to leave without an upgrade path, so HP created one.
There's no doubt about the wisdom of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but one wonders about the wisdom of not finding a way to migrate OpenVMS or Alpha users, or PA-RISC users for that matter, to newer platforms and operating systems. The Alpha hasn't been updated since 2003 and the PA-RISC hasn't been updated since 2005.Art Wittmann is a former editor for InformationWeek. View Full Bio