Lost in the excess of press and collective angst over the fate of HP’s HP-UX servers and the widely-accepted premise that Itanium is nearing the end of its less than stellar run has been the fate of HP’s NonStop users. These customers, some dating back to the original Tandem customer roster, almost universally use HP NonStop systems as mission-critical hubs for their business in industries as diverse as securities trading, public safety and retail sales. NonStop is far more difficult to engineer out of an organization than is HP-UX since there are few viable alternatives at any reasonable cost to replace the combination of scalable processing power and fault-tolerance that the NonStop environment provides.
NonStop users can now breathe collective sigh of relief - on November 4 HP announced that it was undertaking to migrate NonStop to an x86 system platform. Despite the lack of any specifics on system details, timing or pretty much anything else, I think that NonStop users can take this to the bank, figuratively and literally, for a couple of reasons:
HP has a pretty good track record of actually delivering major initiatives that it commits to. Their major stumbles in dealing with their Itanium-based HP-UX program has been in not communicating rather than missing commitments. Technically, given another cycle of server CPUs and their collective expertise in systems design, including the already undeway high-end x86 systems programs, there is little doubt that HP can deliver a platform suitable for supporting NonStop.