But Wait, There's More
HP-UX Shop Opts for PowerEasy ERP on Mac OS X
Now that it is becoming more commonly known that Apple's Mac OS X operating system is really BSD Unix at heart and Apple has decided to move to X64 iron for its desktops and servers, here is a story you might hear more and more often: companies moving ERP applications from Unix to Mac OS X.
I know it sounds a bit strange, with Apple Xserves running ERP applications, given the Mac's strong heritage in digital media and other nice markets where Unix servers are less popular. But it could happen. According to Effigent, which has created an ERP suite called PowerEasy for the Mac OS X operating system, a small manufacturer called Trimjoist last week ditched its legacy ERP applications on a mix of HP-UX and Windows servers and jumped to PowerEasy running on Xserve servers, using Mac OS X as the operating system and Sybase's Adaptive Server Enterprise as the relational database behind the ERP suite. While PowerEasy Enterprise 1.2 is not as complex as many ERP suites that are aimed at midrange and enterprise customers, it does have the basic financial, sales, inventory management, purchase order processing, and e-commerce modules that many small companies need.
Effigent says PowerEasy can scale to hundreds of concurrent users on the current Xserve line. The legendary ease-of-use of the Mac plus more scalable iron could result in a significant ERP for the future Xserve line, particularly when you think about the simplicity of having a unified client and server platform and much more powerful Xserve machines, which will very likely have at least four CPU sockets and at least two cores. This will arguably offer about three times the current processing capacity of the current Power-based Xserve machines--and the X64 machines ought to be less expensive per unit of computing power, too.
Entry Sparc Servers Test Well on Data Warehousing Benchmarks
While many companies focus on their big iron when it comes to running benchmark tests that compare and contrast platforms on OLTP or data warehousing workloads, the fact remains that most of the companies in the world run on little iron. So running benchmarks on these machines matters, too. To that end, Sun Microsystems and Sybase have teamed up to demonstrate the performance of entry Sparc servers on the TPC-H data warehousing benchmark.
Sun and Sybase tested five different Sun Fire servers running various Sparc processors and equipped with the Solaris 10 operating system and Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise 12.5 database. They ran the benchmarks on the 100 GB and 1 TB data warehouse variants of the test. (The TPC-H test has different tiers based on the size of the data warehouse, spanning from 100 GB to 10 TB.) A smaller server would be used for only small data warehouses, which would be relatively large for a small shop with modest customer data to sift through.
On the 100 GB test, a Sun Fire V250 with two 1.28 GHz UltraSparc-IIIi processors was able to process 1,443 queries per hour (QPH) at a cost of $15 per QPH. A Sun Fire V240 with two slightly faster 1.5 GHz UltraSparc-IIIi processors was able to handle 1,713 QPH, and because the system was less expensive (it is a denser machine with less scalability for peripherals) as well as delivering more oomph on the TPC-H test, the Sun Fire V250 delivered a bang for the buck of $12 per QPH. On a four-way Sun Fire V440 server using even faster 1.6 GHz UltraSparc-IIIi processors, the Solaris-Sybase combo delivered 2,883 QPH at a cost of $17 per QPH. Not many server vendors have run 100 GB TPC-H tests using Intel processors, so it is hard to gauge whether current X64 machines are on par in terms of price/performance with the Sun Fire servers tested. IBM tested an OpenPower 720 with four 1.65 GHz Power5 cores in December 2004, and while this machine delivered 6,357 QPH running Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 and IBM's own DB2 UDB 8.2 database, it also cost $42 per QPH, which is a pretty expensive machine for an entry data warehouse. Considering that the OpenPowers are cheaper than AIX-based p5 servers, Sun is able to demonstrate pretty good bang for the buck comparatively speaking on its 64-bit RISC/Unix entry servers. IBM tested a two-way xSeries 346 server (which has the new "Hurricane" chipset and which uses 64-bit Xeon chips running at 3.6 GHz) running the same software stack on and was able to show 1,894 QPH at a cost of $14 per QPH. This is about where the Sparc boxes are.
On the 1 TB TPC-H test, Sun rolled out a Sun Fire 490 with four dual-core UltraSparc-IV processors running at 1.35 GHz, which was able to handle 3,446 QPH at a cost of $41 per QPH. And just to show the benefits of upgrading to the UltraSparc-IV chips, Sun also tested a Sun Fire V800 server with eight 1.2 GHz single-core UltraSparc-III processors, which handled $3,247 QPH at a cost of $53 per QPH. The dual-core machine 6 percent more performance at a cost that was 17 percent lower, which yields 23 percent better price/performance. Pricing is all over the map on the TPC-H 1 TB test, and so is performance, since vendors are testing many different architectures and many sizes of systems. The Sun machines are at the low-end of performance, and among the best price/performers on the 1 TB test.
IDC Says Disk Storage Sales Grew Modestly in Q1
Market researcher IDC says sales for disk storage continue to grow modestly. In its analysis of the external disk array market for the first quarter of 2001, IDC reckons that overall market revenue for external disk arrays grew by 6.7 percent to $3.77 billion, while the total market for disk arrays (including internal units sold for servers) grew by 6 percent to $5.47 billion. The aggregate capacity sold across all kinds of disk arrays continues to explode, with a total of 409 petabytes peddled in the quarter, up 58.6 percent.
EMC was the dominant supplier of disk arrays, with $808 million in sales in the first quarter. Up 12.2 percent. Hewlett-Packard came in second with $668 million in sales and growth of only 6.2 percent, followed by IBM's $435 million (up 9.2 percent), Hitachi's $345 million (up only 1.9 percent), and Dell's $291 million (up 29.2 percent). Other vendors in the diverse disk array market accounted for $1.22 billion in sales, but their share of the pie shrank by a fraction of a percent.
When you add in internal disk arrays, HP is the dominant supplier, with $1.23 billion in sales in the quarter, up 4.2 percent, followed by IBM, with $1.02 billion in sales, up 4 percent. EMC's numbers stay the same because it does not sell its own servers, but Dell's numbers are bumped up a bit to $444 million across all disk array types, an increase of 26.2 percent compared to last year. At current growth rates (provided they persist), Dell will surpass EMC in the overall disk market within three years, and in four years will be jockeying for the top spot with HP. Other disk array makers accounted for $1.61 billion in sales in the quarter, up 2.2 percent and accounting for a little less than a third of all disk array sales worldwide.
Storix Releases Backup/Restore for Mac OS X and Windows with System Backup Administrator 5.2
Data archiving and system backup software maker Storix announced this week that it has ported its backup/restore features of its System Backup Administrator software to the Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows platforms. The core System Backup Administrator software was written for IBM's AIX Unix variant a number of years ago and was recently ported to the open source Linux operating system. These AIX and Linux platforms run SBA--which can backup and restore files for the purposes of archiving, or go into disaster recovery mode and restore a working AIX or Linux operating system image on a remote machine--even if the underlying hardware (such as disks and controllers) is different on the new machine from the old machine for that operating system image. With SBA 5.2, Storix is allowing a Linux-based SBA server to backup and restore data that is stored on Windows or Mac OS X clients or servers; it does not provide disaster recovery (by which Storix means restoring working operating systems) to these platforms. This backup/restore functionality for Windows and OS X is not available with AIX-based servers at this time.
In addition to the new platform support, SBA 5.2 also includes optional 128-bit, 192-bit, and 256-bit data encryption on backed-up files, which would come in pretty handy these days at the big banks that keep losing credit card data.
A base, two-node network configuration of SBA 5.2 costs $1,200 on Linux/X86 platforms, $2,100 on Linux/Power platforms, and $2,400 on AIX/Power platforms. The Windows and OS X backup/restore feature costs $79 per backed up device (be it a desktop or server). The data encryption feature costs $269.
Tandberg Unveils 1U LTO Tape Autoloader
Do you have a use for an LTO autoloader that occupies only 1U, or 1.75 inches, of space in an industry standard rack? Tandberg Data, which last week announced what it claims is the densest rack-mount LTO autoloader in the business, is betting that you do. The LTO StorageLoader features a half-height LTO-2 tape drive that can hold up to eight data cartridges across two removable magazines, giving the device a native storage capacity of 1.6 TB (3.2 TB compressed) and a native transfer rate of 24 MB per second (or 48 MB per second compressed). Users can interact with the SCSI-based StorageLoader through its LCD screen and four-button keypad, or through a Web-based interface; a barcode reader is optional. "For small to medium businesses, our new StorageLoader will cost less than a LTO-3 full-height drive and store four times the capacity, while providing integrated automated backup and manageability features," says Ken Cruden, Tandberg Data's chief operating officer. To sweeten the pot, Tandberg is offering eight free LTO2 cartridges with the purchase of a new StorageLoader; see www.storageloader.com for more information.
PeopleSoft Ex-Chairman Sets Up Fund to Help Laid Off Workers
PeopleSoft founder and ex-chairman of the board Dave Duffield has set up an $10 million fund to help laid off workers from his former company, which was acquired earlier this year in a hostile takeover bid by rival Oracle. While Duffield does not want any press about his generosity, according to a report in the New York Times, we say he deserves some. Duffield did not have to do that, and yet he did. To be fair, he has a net worth of about $1.3 billion and had over $900 million in PeopleSoft shares that Oracle paid him for, so he can clearly afford it. So far, according to the Times report, PeopleSoft employees have been granted a total of $800,000, with grants as high as $10,000, to help tide them over as they look for new jobs.
Duffield is expected to launch a new ERP software company any day now, and you can bet he is going to shake up the industry. Go for it, man.