RealTime IT News

Sun Plays Hardball With Server Promo

Just because Sun and HP are Silicon Valley neighbors doesn't mean they have to like each other. Judging by their recent ad campaigns and company statements, they don't.

Following last month's announcement of a new line of Sun Fire servers, Sun is targeting rivals Dell , IBM and HP in a series of aggressive marketing and sales programs.

But it's most aggressively-worded campaign targets HP. A Sun website starts with the headline: "Get off the "Itanic" referring to Itanium-based HP systems, and continues "Itanium is sinking. Itanium customers are left high-and-dry by Hewlett-Packard."

Below the copy are charts comparing Sun's new servers favorably by price, and power consumption to HP systems. The promo also includes price discounts for customers looking to trade in HP systems for Sun systems.

HP officials are more than crying foul, asserting, for example, that Sun doesn't bother to compare HP's Opteron-based systems to Sun's. Instead, the company said Sun compares its servers to HP's higher-end Itanium systems aimed at a different class of customer and applications.

"Most of what Sun is doing is marketing hype and I think shows signs of desperation," John Miller, director of portfolio marketing enterprise storage and servers at HP told internetnews.com.

"Look at our Proliant servers. We lead the market and we're growing faster than Dell and IBM. Sun's share is trivial. As far as the discounts go, they are talking about a trade in program that all the vendors have. I have not heard of any deals that we have lost to Sun in an open bid process."

Michael Dortch, an analyst with the Robert Frances Group, said pointed campaigns like Sun's get the attention of IT buyers. "Based on what I've heard from IT executives, such campaigns offer more hope and choice than upset to Itanium users," Dortch told internetnews.com.

"There is tremendous interest," asserted Pradeep Parmar, product line marketing manager for Sun's x64 systems. "We've had tens of thousands of hits on our websites that target Dell, IBM and HP."

HP has had its own "Sun Eclipse" campaign to win over Sun customers and detailed its success last month. In a company release, HP claimed it had generated more than $200 million in revenue from wins in 150 Sun customer accounts during the first half of this year, almost double the revenue HP earned during the same period last year.

At its recent Sun Fire launch, Sun CEO Scott McNeally ridiculed Dell servers as being "hot and heavy" for using more power and requiring more space than Sun's offerings.

Sun's Parmar said Dell is also a prime target because it doesn't offer Opteron-based servers. "We have seen customers literally drop their jaws when they see the Sunfire 2100 with x64 Opteron at prices starting at less than $750."

Dell, HP and IBM are expected to fill out their portfolio of server offerings next week with announcement of systems based on Intel's new dual-core Xeon processor next week.

Expect vigorous volleys back at Sun.