Hewlett-Packard has abandoned plans to integrate its own clustered file services into the HP-UX operating system. Instead, HP will buy similar software from Veritas, saying this will allow it to bring virtualised multi-cluster systems to market earlier.

HP had intended to integrate two features from the Tru64 operating system (which it acquired via Compaq, which in turn acquired it from Digital Equipment) into HP-UX to improve the latter's scalability and reliability. Called the Advanced Filesystem and TruCluster, the features were scheduled to be part of the HP-UX 11i version 3 release, expected in 2006.

The company had initially hoped to complete the work by the end of 2004, but this deadline was pushed back because of the complexity of the integration work, analysts said. HP said the Veritas deal would allow it to provide HP-UX with clustered file services in 2005.

"What we found was that we could deliver something that was essentially equivalent to what we could deliver with the TruCluster technology by integrating HP products with the Veritas Storage Foundation suite, and we could do that by 2005 instead of 2006," said Rich Marcello, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Business Critical Servers group.

HP seems to have been caught out by the market's move to clusters and virtual servers - a clustered file system is key to virtualising storage across multiple servers and clusters so that they can be managed and optimised as one entity.

Given HP's enthusiasm for virtualisation and clustering, its inability to do the work itself is somewhat embarrassing. The company is putting a favourable spin on the change though, arguing that because the Veritas Cluster File System is not tied to any one operating system or server vendor, it will provide customers with extra flexibility in how they build and manage clusters.

The decision to drop the Tru64 integration will do nothing to help the public perception of HP-UX, which has been characterised as a neglected product by HP's rivals.

"This is a little bit of a setback, there's no way to disguise that," said Tony Iams, a senior analyst with DH Brown Associates. "There were repeated delays and now they're basically admitting that they're not going to be able to do the integration," he said.

Though the failed Tru64 integration may not reflect well on HP, the Veritas partnership is good news for HP's customers, who will now get access to advanced clustering and file system technology much quicker than they had previously expected, Iams said.

"From a customer standpoint, this is not necessarily a bad thing," he said. "It was looking like there was going to be a lot of surgery done on the OS to get to version three, and customers get nervous when you have a lot of change to the platform like that," he said.

HP says the Veritas software will be part of an enhanced Virtual Server Environment (VSE) for HP-UX 11i, providing a single management view of resources. This will help users to automatically expand and contract server resources in real time based on business priorities, the company adds.

It plans to begin shipping four bundles of the Veritas products integrated with HP's Serviceguard high availability software. The bundles will combine the Veritas Storage Foundation and Clustered File Systems with Serviceguard, and there will also be bundles for the Oracle database and RAC clustering software.

The software bundles will be available for HP-UX in the third quarter of 2005. Linux support will follow, though HP declined to say when this was expected. Pricing was not available.