Tag: server

Bad time to be flogging servers

titanic-life-preserverBeancounters at IDC have said that it is a jolly bad time to be trying to flog servers and the numbers are sinking so fast that it is unlikely that the spotty kid with the posh girlfriend will escape before Celine Dion starts to sing.

The latest server sales figures for Europe, Middle East and Africa show that branded servers are losing ground to Far Eastern ODMs.

IDC numbers showed revenues down 3.7 per cent to $3 billion despite. All this happened while there was a  modest 0.8 per cent increase in the number of boxes shifted, which means that prices have fallen too.

Eckhardt Fischer, research analyst at IDC, said contract manufacturers, some of whom have launched their own branded gear, are doing well and the  HPEs, Dells and Lenovos of the world are suffering.

“This is strongly driven by the continued expansion of original design manufacturers (ODMs) in EMEA, a trend that IDC predicts will continue as mega datacenters and larger enterprises begin to source their hardware directly.”

HPE is still top server seller with 35.4 per cent market share in the second quarter of 2016, up 0.4 per cent. However its year-on-year revenues fell 2.7 per cent.

Dell grew market share to 17.9 per cent and saw revenues creep up by 1.6 per cent.

However Biggish Blue suffered the worst with a 36.9 per cent slump in revenues and a market share which fell to 9.3 per cent. IDC said the fall could largely be blamed on refresh cycles for IBM legacy mainframes last year – this was big enough to hit overall numbers for all vendors.

Oddly the place to try and peddle servers is Russia and the Ukraine where the improved political situation led to increasing IT investment. But the Middle East and Africa saw a decline of 8.5 per cent in revenues because lower oil prices led to cuts in tech investment.

 

Microsoft moves server software to per-core licensing

microsoft-in-chinaMicrosoft seems set to move its Windows Server 2016 to a per-core licensing system.

Windows Server will not arrive until the second half of next year, but Vole will probably change the way it licenses its server operating system.  Currently Microsoft uses a per socket licensing system, but now it wants to charge per core.

Windows Server 2012’s two main editions, Standard and Datacenter, had identical features, and differed only in terms of the number of virtual operating system instances they supported. Standard supported two virtual machines while the Datacenter product was unlimited. Licenses for both editions were sold in two socket units and a license was needed for each pair of sockets a system contained.

What appears to be happening with Windows Server 2016 is that this simple system is going to become more complex. There will be functional differences between Standard and Datacenter editions. Datacenter will gain additional storage replication capabilities, a new network stack with richer virtualisation options, and shielded virtual machines that protect the content of a virtual machine from the administrator of the host operating system.

More significant is that 2016 will use a two core pack, with the licence cost of each 2016 pack being 1/8th the price of the corresponding two socket pack for 2012. Each system running Windows Server 2016 must have a minimum of eight cores per processor, and a minimum of 16 cores per system.

In most cases with systems with up to four processors and up to eight cores per processor, this won’t change the overall licensing cost. But for heavier multi-processing and core use the prices will increase. Two or four processors with 10 cores per processor will cost 25 percent more to run Windows Server 2016 than they did 2012.

Those who know the black art which is Microsoft’s licensing will realise that this brings Windows Server’s licensing in line with SQL Server’s.  SQL Server has been using a per core model since 2014. BizTalk has been using the model since 2013. Azure is also licensed on the basis of virtual machine cores, rather than sockets.

What Microsoft appears to be doing is adapting its licencing to increased  processor core counts and a marked reduction of high socket count systems.

Some customers are going to lose money on the move, particularly those who are unfortunate enough to have Software Assurance agreements that cover systems that were licensed using 2012’s socket-based scheme.

Lenovo to merge server brands

lenovo2Lenovo is planning to merge its two server brands into one and use the unified brand to release products in 2017.

The outfit has just written a cheque for IBM’s server division and is already developing new products for 2017

Lenovo’s Taipei server R&D Centeoduct marketing director, Andrew Huang told Digitimes  that  y, Lenovo has two product brands under its server business, ThinkServer and System X, and Lenovo is no longer using the IBM name to sell System X servers.

The outfit’s share in worldwide server market rose to seven percent in the second quarter of 2015 to become the fourth largest vendor. It has recently landed orders from Alibaba for 50,000 servers.

The move has been expected, but it is surprising that Lenovo kept its own product name rather than the Biggish Blue equivalent.

Mixing IBM and Lenovo is proving tricky

mixing-doughLenovo’s chief operating officer said that folding IBM’s System x practice into his company has been tricky.

Gerry Smith, COO and executive vice president of Lenovo’s PC and Enterprise Business Group, said it was taking a lot to retrain the IBM suits in a culture which was a little faster and less stodgy.

Smith told 300 attendees of the 2015 Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) Summit in San Francisco there had been supply chain challenges and integration issues Lenovo since its purchase of IBM’s $2.1 billion x86 server business.

Lenovo has been focused on making the IBM server acquisitions mainstream brands where channel partners of all shapes and sizes feel like they can come in, win deals and make money.

“It’s about speed to market, and it’s about the volume of our go-to-market,” Smith said. “It’s not just about having cool-looking, high-performance servers.”

Smith said that integrating IBM’s x86 workforce, and employees from Motorola’s $5 billion smartphone practice, was the single biggest challenge the Beijing-based vendor is facing today.

HP creates cloud server line

Every silver has a cloudy liningThe maker of expensive printer ink, HP said that it is creating a server family for cloud providers.

The project is being done as a joint venture with Foxconn, a partnership announced last year to create cloud-optimised servers. HP has been building servers from Foxconn for a year, but is now giving a name to its server line: Cloudline.

According to HP, its systems are based on standards-based principles and use rack scale computing.

With rack scale systems, functions that were previous located in the server, such as cooling and power, may be part of the rack. The systems will likely be deployed in multi-vendor environments, although users want uniformity in controls.

HP will use the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), an open management platform, and other systems that help provide a uniform way of managing hardware.

The hyperscale x86 server market has been growing fast, and this has led to increasing numbers of original design manufacturers (ODM), such as Taiwan’s Quanta entering the game.

HP is announcing these OpenStack systems at the Open Compute Summit and will begin taking orders on some of the systems at the end of this month. The systems use Intel Xeon E5 v3 processors and come in five configurations, including a two-socket (2P) server sled configuration and 1U configurations. No word on pricing yet.

Many companies will miss Windows server deadline

my_tombstoneCompanies are doomed to miss the end of the life of Windows Windows Server 2003, warned software experts.

The server operating system will retire in six months and many companies will still have boxes running the OS when Microsoft finally kills it off.

David Mayer, the director of Microsoft Solutions for Insight said that companies had adopted an approach that “it is not broken so they did not need to fix it.  It was the first really mainstream server from Microsoft, a really solid OS, and gave Microsoft a lot of credibility in server software.”

Microsoft will end security updates for Server 2003 on July 14 which should end the product’s support lifecycle. It has been supported years longer than the usual decade.

But there are still millions of machines running Server 2003, with pockets of the software in most data centres and it is a significant effort to upgrade.  While getting rid of a dead XP laptop is not a problem, server replacement is tricky.

A server might contain unsupported software and the company that built them may be out of business or the in-house development team may have been disbanded.   Updating this software might be impossible.

Many of those applications are 32 bit and while Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a compatibility mode to run such applications it does not always work.

Microsoft  is likely to make a killing out of after-retirement support contracts, or “Custom Support,” to its largest customers. Under a Custom Support agreement, Microsoft provides patches only for the security vulnerabilities it has rated “critical,” its highest threat ranking.

This time Redmond is suggesting that its customers facing end of support to shift their servers to the cloud. However, that might be an additional change too far for many companies.

 

QNAP brings AMD NAS to market

QNAP-tvs873-frontFor a while now AMD has been largely ignored by the makers of NAS x86 gear – who have tended to favour Intel or, more lately,  ARM.

QNAP has become the first vendor to bring an AMD-based x86 NAS to the market and was showing off its wares at CES over the weekend.

Dubbed the TVS-x63 lineup has four, six and eight bay models. Each of them has a four or eight GB of RAM. The 8-bay model also comes with a ‘+’ SKU and a 10GBASE-T NIC pre-installed in the spare PCIe slot. The ‘+’ version comes with either 8 or 16 GB of RAM.

What makes this NAS different from many of the others out there is that QNAP specifies the CPU in the TVS-x63 models as ‘AMD quad-core 2.4 GHz with Radeon Graphics.’ This turns out to be AMD’s GX-424CC SoC.

This 4C/4T Steppe Eagle configuration is based on the Puma microarchitecture and has a TDP of 25 W. The L2 cache is 2 MB in size. The cores run at 2.4 GHz while the integrated Radeon GPU runs at 497 MHz.

This can support DDR3 memory at 1866 MHz. Puma supports out-of-order execution and is expected to turn out a performance similar to Silvermont in the Bay Trail SoCs.

The TVS-x63 has two HDMI outputs to handle multi-media. It supports true 4K output for the UI as well as QvPC. Video playback is restricted to 1080p and the the VCE engine is supported by the firmware, enabling hardware-accelerated transcoding similar to what we saw with the TS-x51 and TS-x53 Pro units that used Quick Sync.

The AMD offering by QNAP is a bit of a surprise and could force a price drop in similar NAS specs in the next few months. This is assuming that Intel’s vendors are beating a path to Intel’s door demanding either a product or a price which matches what AMD has done.

The TVS-863+-8G is expected to retail for $1400 which is really cheap if you take into account that the . 10G port is pre-installed. More basic models cost $1200 for the TVS-863-4G, $1000 for the TVS-663-4G and $800 for the TVS-463-4G.

 

HP locks in corporate customers

superdomeAhead of the breakup of the company, HP is doing its best to make sure that its big corporate customers do not flee.

The maker of expensive printer ink has announced a cunning plan to help retain important customers by allowing them to leave behind their Integrity.

HP will offer versions of two computer server lines under H-P’s Integrity moniker—Superdome and NonStop—that will be powered by Intel’s Xeon chips. HP’s Integrity machines now use Intel’s Itanium chips.

HP’s new Superdome model has sockets to plug in 16 Xeon chips and offers nine times the performance of a conventional H-P system with eight Xeon chips, the company said. H-P has developed accessory chips and software to speed up communications between chips and improve reliability.

Revenue from these “business-critical” servers, declined 29 percent in the quarter ended in October over a year earlier. However, Superdome and NonStop servers are still used by banks, telecommunications carriers and other companies particularly concerned with reliability.

Integrity only made $929 million in revenue in the fiscal year ended October 31, which was nothing compared to the $12.5 billion generated from more popular x86 servers.

HP needs to keep these customers sweet because they buy software, services and other hardware from H-P that hinges on the applications running on the Superdome and NonStop machines.

Under the plan HP will keep developing Itanium-based systems but will help its clients move Intel’s mainstream Xeon technology.

Intel, which introduced its last Itanium model in late 2012, has disclosed plans for a successor, which is code-named Kittson. The chipmaker hasn’t said when that product will arrive nor described models it may develop after that.

For Superdome, HP is encouraging customers to move to the Linux operating system or other software. HP is porting NonStop software to run on Xeon chips. The company is offering services to help customers migrate to the new technology in both cases.

 

Servers become central heating units

171879main_LimbFlareJan12_lgA German company is building a cloud which puts servers in people’s houses in exchange for the free heating.

Cloud&Heat is a cloud infrastructure company that has started distributing its servers to people who want to store them in exchange for free heat in their homes or offices.

Customers pay to have a Cloud&Heat fire-proof cabinet installed in their homes or offices which is about the same as a standard heating system. Cloud&Heat pays for the electricity and internet service the cabinet needs and the owner gets to enjoy free heat and hot water. Plus Cloud&Heat has some clever fixes in place.

Now that would be great if it was not for that annoying thing called summer. However, apparently if the servers do heavy data processing when no one needs the heat, the system stores hot water in a “buffering tank.” Cloud&Heat cabinets can also vent outside in the spring and summer.

One of the downsides is the matter of security, because anyone’s data could be in anyone else’s house at a given time. Cloud&Heat said that all of its data is encrypted and only its employees can open the cabinets.

Microsoft software is unsafe again

Stained Glass - picture Mike MageeExpect a slew of critical updates to Microsoft Windows and other Microsoft software this week.

The company last week warned that much of its software needed patches to be safe and sound.  Many will need you to restart your machine or machines.

At the same time Microsoft will release an upgrade to its Malicious Software removal tool, its update services and the download centre.

Affected software includes Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows RT and Windows RT 8.1, Windows Technical Preview and Windows Server Technical Preview.

Microsoft doesn’t support Windows XP anymore so you are on your own unless like the NHS or people that use point of sale (POS) embedded software you have additional security built in. You can find the whole sorry tale at the Microsoft site, here.

Microsoft to change suicide server settings

msSoftware giant Microsoft has had enough of a suicide server setting in ASP.NET which too few sysadmins can be bothered disabling.

Microsoft said that all future versions of ASP.NET will enforce the deprecation of EnableViewStateMac=“false”. This was in a security advisory in December 2013, when Redmond has warned the setting had a privilege escalation vulnerability. Microsoft warned that disabling Message Authentication Code (MAC) validation would allow an attacker to use crafted HTTP code to inject code into the ASP.NET server.

Microsoft fixed that problem in ASP.NET 4.5.2 and in an optional patch for customers. Now, in a notice published on September 9, Microsoft says the previously optional patch will henceforth be enforced for all versions of ASP.NET.

“If you are running the ASP.NET framework on your machine, this behaviour will be picked up automatically the next time you check for updates.”

However it is likely to break installations still using EnableViewStateMac=“false”, but Microsoft said it was necessary to address this issue head-on due to the prevalence of misinformation regarding this switch and the number of customers who are running with it set to an insecure setting.

Most developers using the insecure setting did so to support cross-page posts on their sites. The scenario most likely to break when EnableViewStateMac=“false” is disabled is where designers were avoiding synchronising the <machineKey> setting in a Web farm.

You can read the advisory here 

 

 

Boston signs distie deal with Mellanox

bostonskylineBoston Limited has just signed a distribution deal with Mellanox Technologies to sell the latter’s Infiniband and Ethernet Interconnect kit, as well as rigging it up with Boston’s own server and storage tech.

Boston hopes the contract will help its growth and development in offering high performance server and storage, especially as enterprises are after scalable options running with high performance and efficiencies.

Mellanox increases efficiency, the company says, by offering the highest throughput with the lowest latency to deliver data, quick, as well as using a system to the best of its capabilities. Interconnects like adapters, switches, software and silicon will all be on offer to optimise HPC, enterprise data, cloud, storage and financial services.

Mellanox’s Darrin Chen said adding Boston Limited as a distie partner will help the company “better address customers looking to achieve their performance”.

“Across EMEA, organisations are increasingly demanding new systems with the scalable and high performance interconnect products to increase application performance and business productivity,” Chen said.

The Mellanox products are available to buy from Boston now.

EMEA server market slides 10.5 percent

server-racksThe EMEA server market seems unable to regain its footing. Following several consecutive quarters of lacklustre results, the negative trend seems set to continue, according to the latest IDC figures.

Revenue dropped 10.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 year-on-year. Shipments also dropped by 5.7 percent, to 520,000 units. This is the sixth quarter in the red and the market has been contracting since the fourth quarter of 2011.

IDC EMEA Enterprise Server Group research manager Giorgio Nebuloni said yearly revenue declined by more than 40 percent.

“Part of the spending intended to keep core business applications running is now absorbed by new integrated system offerings combining x86 and lower-end RISC/EPIC blades with storage and networking back-ends,” Nebuloni said.

The non-x86 market was especially hard hit, with a revenue decline of 34.8 percent. Revenues generated by x86 server dropped by 1.5 percent. Demand for x86 servers in developed European economies is flat, while demand for non-x86 gear is plummeting.

“RISC sales were particularly hit, down by 49.8% year on year, whereas mainframe revenue suffered single-digit declines of 4.8%” said IDC EMEA Enterprise Server Group senior research analyst Beatriz Valle. “Big organisations in the corporate space and government are consolidating existing infrastructure using high-end x86 servers, with demand for legacy architectures at an all time low.”

Demand is evaporating in the CEMA region as well, with a third consecutive drop in the first quarter. Shipments were down 9.7 percent, although some positive trends were seen in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile the share of modular server shipments increased from 19.9 percent to 22.7 percent in the first quarter of the year. The growth was driven by the increasing popularity of density optimised servers in the HPC area.

HP talks up the unsinkable Itanium

Der Untergang der TitanicWhile many in the industry have been writing off HP lately, the maker of expensive printer ink says that it is about to make a comeback, but has made Itanium  part of its cunning plan.

At the unveiling of Odyssey, a project ” to redefine the future of mission-critical computing”, HP said it wanted to transform the server market.

Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Business Critical Systems, HP, Martin Fink told All Africa that HP’s plan is more cunning than a distributed network of foxes wired up in a supercomputer of cunning.

HP has in its hands a roadmap which annex UNIX and x86 server architectures to bring industry-leading availability, increased performance, cure cancer and put everything in a single platform.

Fink said that these days organizations were challenged with increasingly tough service-level agreements and all sorts of terrible pressure to be efficient with their IT budgets.

HP reasons that in a perfect world they would have the availability and resilience of UNIX-based platforms along with the familiarity and cost-efficiency of x86.

So HP is coming up with a development roadmap includes ongoing innovations to HP Integrity servers, HP nonstop systems and the HP-UX and OpenVMS operating systems.

The roadmap also includes delivering blades with Intel Xeon processors for the HP Superdome 2 enclosure and the scalable c-Class blade enclosures , while fortifying Windows and Linux environments with innovations from HP-UX within the next two years, Fink said.

After HP released “DragonHawk,” its customers have been asking HP to expand the mission-critical experience that is delivered today with HP-UX on Integrity to an x86-based infrastructure.

He touted project Odyssey as something that HP partners would really want because it offered a “Intel’s continued innovation with a multigenerational Itanium processor roadmap”, combined with existing and future mission-critical capabilities of Intel Xeon processors, allow HP and Intel to provide customers with greater flexibility and choice.

Together with HP, he said that Intel would be able to give customers the ability to do mission-critical computing on their terms, with a broad range of operating systems and applications, he added with a straight face.

Lenovo to sell servers and storage

lenovo-logoLenovo, the world’s second largest PC maker, is planning to revamp its business strategy and refocus on its server and storage business over the next three years.

The PC slump has been hurting Lenovo, Dell and Hewlett Packard for several quarters and all traditional PC markers are now trying to reinvent themselves.

Dell wants to go private, HP is waiting for inkjet printers to make a comeback, while Lenovo seems keen focus on everything other than PCs.

Although its latest announcement indicates that Lenovo will make a serious enterprise server and storage push, it should be noted that the company is also betting big on smartphones and tablets. However, we don’t get to see that many of them in Europe, but Lenovo’s mobile gear is doing incredibly well in parts of Asia. In fact, Lenovo’s smartphone business accounts for about 20 per cent of the company’s revenue in mainland China, reports China Daily.

“We are looking for future profit generators, and the enterprise-level server and storage markets will surely fill that need,” said Chen Xudong, senior vice-president and general manager of Lenovo China. However, Chen stopped short of outlining Lenovo’s expectations for its server and storage gear.

The storage strategy seems off to a good start. On Tuesday Lenovo and EMC released their first co-branded server and storage products. The two outfits formed a joint venture last year to shift server and storage gear. It is hoped that the EMC alliance will help Lenovo fend off challenges from ZTE and Huawei in the Chinese market.