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HP's New Unix Supports Near Limitless Storage

HP  is continuing to rapidly improve its HP-UX Unix operating system.

As part of a new software and hardware roll-out HP is releasing HP-UX 11i version 3.

The new Unix version boasts improved storage, performance and virtualization features, raising the stakes against Unix competitors IBM  and Sun  as well as Linux.

The version 3 update comes just under two months after HP fortified HP-UX 11i version 2 with new security features.

Though HP is announcing what appears to be a rapid succession of Unix updates, Nick van der Zweep, director of virtualization and software for HP's Business Critical Systems, argued that customer update fatigue is not an issue. Van Der Zweep noted that HP provides quarterly updates for HP-UX.

"I wouldn't call it fatigue since the customer based absolutely demands that we add more features and security and they pick and choose when they want to upgrade, " Van Der Zweep said.

The version 3 release is also not necessarily a major revenue event for HP either: existing HP-UX subscribers get version 3 as part of their subscriptions without additional cost.

By moving from version 2 to version 3 on the exact same hardware, users may well notice a real difference, real fast.

Van Der Zweep boasted that version 3 provides a 30 percent performance improvement over version 2. Part of that performance improvement comes via an improved I/O (input/output) stack.

The I/O stack improvements also empower HP-UX 11i version 3 with what Van Der Zweep called "unlimited storage" capacity.

There is actually a limit but the limit is 100 million zettabytes of storage, which is an amount that is barely comprehensible. One zettabyte is equal to 1 billion terabytes .

Sun's Solaris Unix operating system actually now also deals in zettabytes with its ZFS (Zettabyte file system) which became part of Solaris in 2005.

With HP-UX 11i version 3, HP is also set to have its Unix certified under the UNIX 2003 standard, an effort to help define a set of APIs and functionality across Unix to allow for application portability.

Both IBM, with its AIX 5L V5.3 Unix, and Sun Solaris 10 are already Unix 2003 certified.

Van Der Zweep noted, however, that most customer don't come to HP asking specifically for the Unix 2003 certifications.

"We have the functionality there in HP-UX and to a certain extent it's just a check-off item," Van Der Zweep said. "Customers don't demand certification -- they are just worried if their application runs well and that the availability stands up over time."