|CSY's Dave Wilde Shares His e3000 Vision |
HP Professional sat down with Dave Wilde, recently appointed Research and Development manager in HP's Commercial Systems Division (CSY), to get an idea of the directions CSY is pursuing for the HP e3000. Wilde is no stranger to the HP e3000 and to MPE users. An HP employee since 1984 and a part of CSY since 1992, Wilde has for the last two years been a section manager in CSY, focusing on HP e3000 platforms, operating system kernel, network drivers and storage and high-availability products. The discussion focused on CSY’s priorities for the HP e3000 and the way those priorities are being met.
HP Pro: Thanks, Dave, for sitting down with us. Perhaps, you could start by identifying CSY’s top priorities for the HP e3000.
Wilde: I’d like to divide my answer into two parts when it comes to priorities – external, or customer-facing, priorities and internal priorities. On the external, or customer side, our priorities fall into three categories:
• Enabling continued growth of the overall platform and of our customers
•Supporting and facilitating the deployment of the HP e3000 in an e-commerce, Internet, intranet environment, and
• Continuing to improve the data center management capabilities of the platform
In the growth area, we’re working on new hardware platforms, which are always getting faster – higher I/O throughput, more bandwidth, more performance, etc. – and new network driver capabilities. Then, there’s the ability of the operating system and the database and related subsystems to scale in terms of OLTP performance – which also allows more users to connect to the system.
HP Pro: May we interrupt here to ask about the role of IA-64 in your growth strategy?
Wilde: Well, right now, I think we’re serving our customers best by continuing to support next-generation PA-RISC platforms … We have a very minimal, long lead-time architecture investigation staffed in the IA-64 area. I don’t think customers care whether the chip is PA-RISC or IA-64. They’re concerned about having platforms available, having the capacity, the scaling and the right support of peripherals on the platforms.
HP Pro: OK, that takes care of growth. What about e-enabling the HP e3000?
Wilde: In the overall area of e-commerce, Internet, middleware tools, etc., there are a lot of tools that customers need to interoperate with other platforms in order to Web-enable applications. We offer the Apache Web server and Java, for example. We’ve also been working with Channel Partners to offer specific middleware tools, like message queuing.
More recently, we’ve begun offering SSL on the platform, making sure that it is integrated with Apache. Other areas we’re looking into include single-on.
HP Pro: You mentioned new network driver capabilities and data center management as priorities.
Wilde: Yes, network drivers and continuing to support new platforms. One example is PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect), a new backplane architecture. A lot of our network and I/O drivers for disk and tape devices need to be significantly re-engineered for that new environment. There’s a big benefit here – much higher I/O throughput. Also, this is an essential change, because next-generation platforms will support only PCI.
HP Pro: Continuing on, what are you doing in the area of data center management?
Wilde: In the area of data center management, we’re focusing on storage, enterprise management and high availability. We’re tracking the overall HP storage roadmap when it comes to disk and tape products, and we’re making sure we have up-to-date technologies in the area of disk arrays. We offer the AutoRAID disk array today, and we offer the XP256 disk array, as well as other arrays.
HP Pro: Fibre Channel is a hot topic for storage. What are you doing here?
Wilde: Actually, we have three Fibre Channel solutions: SCSI Fibre distance solutions that are shipping now; a SCSI Fibre solution shipping in the near term; and then, in the one-to-three-year time frame, a native Fibre Channel solution. With this offering, we basically go from a 3000 SCSI driver to a hardware box that actually maps onto Fibre Channel and then translates back to a SCSI device. It allows you to use Fibre Channel in the middle to expand the distance between SCSI connections – to have peripherals at a significant distance from the HP e3000. And, we’ll be offering a SCSI Fibre solution that will allow you to connect Fibre Channel devices to the HP e3000, again using a hardware solution. That means if you have a device that supports only Fibre Channel, you’ll soon be able to connect that to the HP e3000.
For enterprise system management, we’ve been beefing up our OpenView products, like IT/Operations [now called VantagePoint Operations]. We’re basically offering templates to make it easier to make the HP e3000 a managed node when you use OpenView IT/Operations.
And, for availability, we’re working with the HP OmniBack team to make sure the HP e3000 can be a managed node from a backup perspective, so you can back up an HP e3000 using OmniBack.
HP Pro: Let’s cover some of your internal priorities now.
Wilde: Internally, our big areas of focus are schedule accuracy, quality and efficiency.
We’re working on improving our schedule accuracy by doing a better job of setting expectations and then delivering on our commitments. On the efficiency side, we’ve always leveraged compiler technologies across HP-UX and MPE. Now, we’re doing more to leverage I/O drivers and some of the network driver technology. We’re more closely aligning the I/O subsystems within MPE and UNIX.
HP Pro: Are your efforts to e-enable the HP e3000 paying off? Are a significant number of users setting up their e3000s as Web servers?
Wilde: Recently, I’ve seen quite a bit more of this. A number of people are using the e3000 as a direct Web server. In the Smith-Gardner environment, for example, the e3000 is a very big part of an Internet e-commerce world. And traditional companies are using the e3000 for Web serving, as well as some of the really small dot-com companies that are growing very quickly. Some businesses have been exposing their e3000 data to the Internet – companies in the financial marketplace, for example, that offer their customers access to financial information in a read-only environment over the Web. Others are using the e3000 in an intranet environment, serving up information from, say, data warehouses.
HP Pro: As you continue to e-enable the e3000, what about new applications? Where will they come from?
Wilde: First, we want to make sure that Channel Partners who have been running their applications on the HP e3000 and have large successful businesses continue to be successful. Also, remember that these vendors started out as small HP Channel Partners – they didn’t start somewhere else and move to the e3000. That means our best opportunity is to identify vendors that may be small now but are growing very quickly and have a unique value add. It’s a better opportunity to grow seedlings you already have rather than try to transplant big trees.