Alpha users calm about Compaq switch to Itanium

Genesis Research & Development Unix system administrator Mark Brandwood says Compaq's plan to switch from Alpha-based servers to Intel's Itanium by 2004 came as a complete surprise.

Genesis Research & Development Unix system administrator Mark Brandwood says Compaq’s plan to switch from Alpha-based servers to Intel’s Itanium by 2004 came as a complete surprise.

“It came out of the blue — we weren’t aware it was happening at all,” says Brandwood.

The Auckland biotechnology company bought its third Alpha processor only a month ago. It bought its first Alpha, a 4100, four years ago and its first of the more recent ES40 was added two years ago, with the second added in December of last year.

However, the company believes abandoning the Alpha processor is the right thing for Compaq to do, Brandwood says. “We see it as a step in the right direction — we think it’s a good move and we’re happy with it.”

Alpha was acquired by Compaq when it bought Digital in 1998. Compaq will offer two more upgrades of Alpha before 2004, but Genesis will probably upgrade to one, EV7, and then to Itanium, Brandwood says.

Brandwood says at the rate Genesis is growing, a new processor will be needed every six months. The company paid approximately $200,000 for the original 4100 and roughly $300,000 for the ES40s.

Audit New Zealand network administrator Don Henderson says the decision won’t affect its IT system too much “because we were moving away from Alpha anyway”.

Henderson says Audit NZ, which is an independent unit of the Office of the Auditor General, says the organisation is changing over to a Wintel platform. “We only have one Alpha server left and are moving towards Windows NT, so we weren’t going to be supported by Alpha — we were moving from an Alpha to an Intel platform anyway.”

Meteorological Service information chief Marco Overdale says the state-owned enterprise recently installed an Alpha cluster based around a storage area network “and the way we’ve built it allows us to add more machines into the SAN more or less seamlessly”.

“In any case, our plan is to migrate away from [the proprietary operating system] VMS to Tru64 Unix and those machines will be added to our cluster section.”

The change won’t mean any disruption to the Met Service, Overdale says.

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