RealTime IT News

Sun to IBM: Blue You!

The server market, especially when it involves IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. , is particularly cutthroat. No greater evidence of that was shown than Sun's move Friday to trigger a series of programs to steal customers and market share from Armonk, N.Y.'s IBM.

Dubbed "Project Blue-Away," the "competitive replacement program" strategy is aimed at picking up IBM customers, which Sun said have been neglected by IBM's discontinuation of its NUMA-Q platform. Used by IBM to power its xSeries servers, NUMA-Q was an entry level, Intel-based platform geared for e-business that IBM absorbed when it bought Sequent Computer Systems in July 1999 for $810 million. Sun's aim is to move those disenfranchised users to its own Solaris Operating Environment on Sun servers.

Shahin Khan, vice president and chief competitive officer at Palo Alto, Calif.'s Sun Microsystems, dogged IBM in a public release.

"The end-of-life of the xSeries NUMA-Q product line, only two years after IBM acquired Sequent, shows the company's continued lack of commitment to its customers' evolving needs," said Khan. "According to industry analysts, this represents a $750 million market opportunity for Sun. Together, Sun and Oracle are delivering abandoned customers with best-of-breed solutions, an IT infrastructure that can grow with their business needs and an application lifecycle that can lower their total cost of ownership, while ensuring their investments are protected well into the future."

IBM spokesman John Buscemi told InternetNews.com that Big Blue is currently moving NUMA-Q customers to its Enterprise X architecture. Buscemi scoffed at Sun's announcement Friday.

"This is a sign of the increasing desperation by Sun to staunch the bloodletting in the market," Buscemi said. "The most interesting thing is that they're moving away from their strategy by trying a little bit of this and a little bit of that. They used to talk about one architecture."

How so? Buscemi pointed to Sun's recent announcement of broad support for Linux.

"They're following our strategy now," Buscemi explained. "We have a history of embracing open standards [such as Linux] that Sun doesn't have."

IBM, it seems, has reason to feel confident about its server schemes these days. New statistics from Gartner Dataquest show that Big Blue server revenue in the U.S. increased from $4.7 billion to $4.9 billion in 2001, growth of 7.8 percent. Overall, the firm increased market share from 21.5 percent in 2000 to 29.3 percent in the weakest year for server sales in years. IBM posted 3.1 percent growth in sales for the Unix server market (still a distance second to Sun) and a 1.3 percent growth in Intel servers.

Sun said Project Blue-Away's replacement program for NUMA-Q, backed by Oracle Corp. , has already helped xSeries users move their applications to Solaris, including Littlewoods, Rural Payments Agency and Virgin Atlantic Airways.