You have launched a new generation of enterprise servers, novascale bullion™, based on a new architecture, designed 100% by Bull. What is your objective with bullion?
Nowadays, IT Departments want to take back control over their servers; indeed they have to do so. Information systems are under a great deal of pressure with more and more demanding tasks, both in terms of inputs and outputs for real-time processing. There are more and more sources of information, more and more users, and more and more data to be taken into account in increasingly complex algorithms. And the slightest downtime – even a simple slowdown in performance – is no longer tolerable because it immediately results in lost money. So for CIOs it is all about being able to respond to this workload with new, very high service levels, while at the same time keeping control over their costs and resources.
And in both public and private sectors, on average only 10% of the capacity of x86-based servers (which make up the bulk of those currently in service) is being utilized. It is with this in mind that we have launched our new novascale bullion system. Fundamentally, it should help CIOs make their information systems simpler again. We are absolutely confident that making infrastructures simpler is the first thing to do when it comes to cutting costs, achieving greater flexibility, making applications more reliable and cutting carbon footprints.
Bringing in greater simplicity to take back control: isn’t that what everyone is trying to do?
No, quite the opposite. The common approach – which has really been happening since the client-server computing area, so since the 1980s – is, in essence, ‘a server for each application’. If I have to run a new application, then I install a new server and I connect it to the network. It’s so easy, so simple. But it only looks simple. You can easily imagine what happens after a few years. Obviously, CIOs have not waited until now to start cleaning up the mess. But this approach is just not viable any more. A new approach is needed. There are a number of ways to achieve this simplicity, from outsourcing – which Bull specializes in
– to the virtualization of critical applications on large-scale servers. This second path is where novascale bullion really brings value to the entire information system.
So the search for that elusive simplicity has to involve virtualization?
Yes, nowadays it is the only way, it’s essential. Virtualization now plays a vital role in information systems strategies, both as a tool for rationalizing hardware resources and reducing energy consumption, but also as an integrated systems administration platform. Which is why Bull has worked very closely with VMware: an essential feature of novascale bullion is its native virtualization capability. This close-coupling between hardware and virtualization software will make it easier to deploy critical applications while at the same time offering excellent information systems topology.
Because virtualization is taken into account from the start, you can automatically get the most from the available resources and make your investment pay off, especially in terms of lower energy bills. That is one aspect that the first customers who tried out novascale bullion were particularly keen on.
What makes the architecture of novascale bullion so special?
At its heart, this virtualized infrastructure – in which a native version of VMware and many other components are incorporated into novascale bullion – will make CIOs’ lives easier. novascale bullion is based on an innovative hardware architecture, developed by Bull, which enables the x86 and 64-bit worlds to be effectively combined. We’re calling this new architecture MESCA. We have taken advantage of the standardization of electronic components and the capabilities offered by Intel’s QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) bus to work in a similar way to a car maker: creating a single, common platform capable of accommodating different engines. This has resulted in a highly scalable machine, which combines the advantages of the x86 standard with its vast portfolio of applications and ease of use, with the performance and reliability of 64-bit systems. As a result, we have successfully resolved the dilemma posed by critical business applications, without compromise. And this unique architecture is shared not only by our new bullx supercomputers dedicated to Extreme Computing, and novascale bullion enterprise servers for virtualizing critical applications using VMware, but also our mainframe-class servers running gcos8 applications.
But is there really room for new innovations in the hardware market?
Absolutely. With novascale bullion, for example, we have developed an assembly method which facilitates scalability, because you can set it up with anything between 4 and 16 processors, with exceptional linearity. In another area, we have completely rethought the power supply, to enhance safety and energy efficiency. All these innovations have come 100% from Bull R&D and we are very proud of them! They are often the direct result of our expertise in Extreme Computing. If we go back the automotive analogy, with the MESCA architecture, we are going to help our traditional customer-base benefit from technologies developed for Formula 1. The only difference is that we are giving them tools to drive their information systems at 200mph. In complete safety!