HP Extends Blade Server Line To NonStop

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The new HP Integrity NonStop NB50000c BladeSystem blade servers from Hewlett-Packard deliver twice the performance using half the space and the same amount of power as HP's current NonStop servers, said Randy Meyer, director of NonStop product marketing, strategy, and technology for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor's Business Critical Systems business unit.

HP's NonStop servers, a product line it inherited with the acquisition of Compaq, are used for 24x7 mission-critical infrastructures, Meyer said. "They're systems that have to be up all the time, have to handle lots of data, and have fault tolerance," he said.

The new NB50000c blade servers are built on the same industry standard hardware that is used for HP's standard BL860 blade servers with the addition of a special mezzanine card and the NonStop operating system. They are currently available with dual-core processors, with quad-core processors to come, Meyer said.

They are binary-compatible with existing NonStop servers, which lets customers drop their applications onto the new servers without recompiling them. Up to 4,080 of the new blades can be configured into a single system image, Meyer said.

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The existing rack-mount NonStop server line will continue to be available for the foreseeable future. "At the entry point, it's still lower priced than the new blades," Meyer said. "And mission-critical server users change slowly. They're risk-adverse."

Laurent Rotival, senior vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare IT, a Barrington, Ill.-based system integrator which has been working with NonStop servers for about 20 years in very large healthcare institutions, said the timing of the new NonStop blade servers is perfect.

GE Healthcare IT is looking at investing to extend its platform to embrace new technologies, and would see risks if it tried to move away from the NonStop servers, Rotival said.

"With the new blades, we can maintain the tremendous NonStop performance and reliability," he said. "Our customers can run their same applications without risk, and can adopt the new technology while keeping their existing accounts within the same racks."

HP technology is at the core of many of GE Healthcare customers' businesses, Rotival said. "Over time, I can see us mixing NonStop blades and other HP blades in the same chassis," he said. "It will be a unique approach for each customer. But there's no doubt it's going that way in the future."

The new NB50000c blade servers are currently shipping. An entry-level configuration with a chassis, two blades, 100 hard drives, and all the necessary I/O, rack, and cooling, costs about $300,000. About 15 percent to 20 percent of NonStop sales goes through indirect sales channels.