Saturday, April 20, 2024

HP Upgrades Security on Unix OS

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HP-UX has been around for 25 years, and HP keeps on finding ways to improve and update its venerable flagship Unix operating system.

In HP’s (NYSE: HPQ) latest update to HP-UX, the OS is getting enhanced security features and memory availability.

While Unix is often thought of as being secure and not as vulnerable as other operating system choices, the reality is that new threats are constantly emerging.

That’s one reason why HP-UX 11i v.3 Update 5, codenamed “Vantage,” is getting improved features to help admins better protect their environments against emerging threats.

“If you look at the number of threats out there that are emerging for Unix, there is a new threat identified roughly on average one out of every three days,” Brian Cox, director of software planning and marketing for Business Critical Systems at HP, told “From a security perspective, how we’re making HP-UX better is by how easy it is to make it even more secure.”

In the newest update, one way HP is trying to make security easy is by way of scalability.

With previous HP-UX releases, administrators were only able to patch 10 systems at a time. Now in Update 5, Cox noted administrators can now patch one hundred systems at a time. The large-scale approach is implemented via an HP-UX tool called Software Assistant that automates the patching specifically around security enhancements.

“It dramatically reduces the burden to make sure that systems are compliant with all the latest security protection,” Cox said.

Additionally, HP-UX now directly includes a security auditing tool called Bastille to ensure compliance with security standards.

“Bastille looks through your software stack and looks for unprotected and open access points,” Cox said. “It will go through and analyze your stack and also over time will go back and re-analyze the stack for modifications.”

Cox added that Bastille is able to report on potential issues as well as automatically provide fixes.

HP-UX Bastille is based in part on the open source Bastille effort for Linux, for which HP has been a key contributor.

Better HP-UX performance

The new update also includes improved memory performance by way of technology called Locality-Optimized Resource Alignment (LORA). LORA uses local memory to optimize server performance.

“LORA allows us to significantly improve performance on a server by closely associating the data, the application and the resources assigned to it to be all together in one place on a server,” Cox said.

Cox explained that HP’s large servers can have multiple terabytes of RAM and up to 128 processor cores. As a result, when a user loads up application data, those bits will get assigned where there is available space within the system. The problem is that the bits can become separated across the system, analogous to the way that Windows PCs can have issues with disk file fragmentation.

LORA provides what Cox referred to as a measurable performance improvement on existing hardware.

“What we’ve been concentrating on is there are things we can do in software that require no change in hardware, and this is just one example,” Cox said.

Latest update

Update 5 follows the “Vigilant” release, which came out in April of this year. Update 4 had a core focus on new virtualization features for HP-UX.

HP updates HP-UX every six months, once in the spring and then again in the fall.

“We’re continuing to invest in HP-UX,” Cox said. “There is a solid business out there. Customers have mission-critical needs and we’re enhancing HP-UX on a regular basis to meet those needs.”

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