Santanu Ghose, director, Business Critical Systems, HP India, spoke to us about the changing industry landscape, how HP is catering to the needs of large enterprises and SMBs, and the effects of the Oracle-HP lawsuit, in India.
Could you elaborate on the single unified architecture planned for x86 and Itanium processors?
IT has become the backbone for practically all businesses, be it small or large, or be it in the SMB, commercial or corporate segment. A lot of businesses that started with the x86 kind of environment--with Linux or Unix--are feeling the heat because they see that their applications cannot go down any further as their businesses are dependent on that. They are also seeing that their businesses are growing fast, and therefore, their IT systems should be scalable in order to grow with the business without choking. As the complexity of the handheld devices that access apps increases, the apps also need to respond faster and be highly available.
These are the challenges that some customers in the lower end of the segment--such as commercial SMB companies--are facing. Many high end large corporate customers have their mission-critical apps running on our HP UX platforms, HP OpenView platforms or the fault-tolerant NonStop Platform, and they have enjoyed very high availability and scalability and response times. But they are also seeing that IT costs are also an issue, and as their businesses are growing faster, a lot of their apps, which we call peripheral and support apps, are becoming critical. This is the dynamics of the market: While some of the organizations at the lower end of the market are going to the high end, some of the high end customers want their Linux and Windows apps to be supported the way mission-critical ones are.
What has HP done to address this need?
With this contrast between the needs of large enterprise customers and SMBs in mind, HP has looked at how Windows and Linux-based apps on x86 can be brought into the mission-critical portfolio. For the new generation of systems, we have designed x86-based servers with the same design concepts like the super dome and others as in the Integrity servers, and given them attributes and traits of a very high end system in terms of scalability, reliability, and uptime. The design concepts are same, but the processors could be different, depending on what apps are supported on them. The basic design philosophy, however, remains the same. This project is named 'Odyssey' and the underlying mission of this project is to encompass x86-based Linux and Windows-based apps into the domain of "mission-critical". So with that, we are extending the umbrella of mission-critical to x86 and Linux and Windows environment.
Could it be said that you are opting for this modularity scheme because of the waning popularity of Itanium processors?
There will be no decline of customers for these processors. I have not seen any customer going away from Itanium; they stick to it. You might probably be referring to the revenue for the Unix systems or the Risc/Epic category may have come down. But the reason for that is completely different: Every year, the Unix and the Risc/Epic category systems deliver a system that is more efficient than those of the previous years--they become 2 or 3x more efficient in terms of price performance. So customers are doing more with less money. They are spending less money, but are able to scale up and meet their business requirements. This is more of a contribution from technology than anything else. That is why you see a revenue decrease for Unix, but it does not mean that the customers are going away. Some of the mission-critical apps which were used at the customers' side are very much there. Also, some of the lower end segment customers are aspiring to get (their systems) to the mission-critical environment.
There are some customers in Europe who moved away from HP's Itanium processors due to the Oracle-HP dispute. Did this dispute have a similar effect on the Indian market?
We were not affected In india at all. Customers who had their mission-critical apps running on the Integrity platform, with HP UX, continued to support us, and there were no instances of customers moving away to a different platform because of this issue. Rather, the customers In india stood by us.
So I think in many ways, we won the first part of the lawsuit with the court's giving a diktat that Oracle will have to continue supporting HP. In many ways, this was influenced by customer feedback. Oracle finally accepted that and have now started supporting the Itanium platform for all their range of apps as well.Has the Oracle-HP lawsuit had any kind of effect on HP's brand perception in India?
The only thing that happened in India was that the customers started saying they would wait and see (the courts verdict) before they invest (in Itanium). So, while the new Itanium investments slowed down a little, that has also turned around slowly now. Q4 was a very good quarter for Itanium.As far as the Indian market is concerned, which of your business-critical solutions/products are faring the best?
We are seeing the rate of blade adoption going up very high. This is because blades offer a number of advantages such as better efficiency in terms of (floor space) footprint in India. This is important, given how floor space is at a premium in India and forms a big chunk of IT costs.
The second efficacy of the blade is on the power and cooling management front. You can very quickly distribute workloads because they don't have a backplane. These are some reasons for the increased adoption of Blade Integrity products in the market. This is fast becoming our flagship product.
Eric Ernest is a correspondent for CIO India and ComputerWorld India. Send your feedback to <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.