RealTime IT News

Telcos Pick Up on HP, Intel Message

HP said it is making continuous dents in Sun Microsystems' server market share armor, thanks in large part to its partnership with Intel.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based systems vendor Tuesday said a slew of global telecommunication customers has taken a shine to its Integrity servers running Itanium processors.

China Telecom, Cogeco Cable Canada, Korea Telecom, SK Telecom, T-Systems, Telecom Italia and Telefonica de Espana are among the companies HP said are warming up to regular purchasing cycles after cutting costs through the early part of the decade.

Brian Cox, product-marketing manager for HP Integrity servers, told internetnews.com the telcos making these hardware investments now are preparing for the next 10 to 20 years.

"They are coming out of their slump and are starting to replace their RISC architectures in certain countries," he said. "The anchor point of their architecture when working with the billing of all these new mobile services is Itanium and they will surround that in their data center using the new SKUs."

Those new SKUs include using the recently released dual-processor "Madison" with 6 megabtyes of cache for the middle of the network and low-power "Deerfield" Itanium processors along the edge for Web traffic. This is because, according to Intel Itanium marketing director Mike Graph, customers can put them in racks and racks of servers without having to worry about the heat.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel and HP, which co-developed the Itanium, have a lot of ground to cover if they are going to catch up to Sun or IBM.

Recent stats from Gartner suggest that Sun has about 56 percent of the world's $5.3 billion high-end semiconductor marketplace followed by IBM with 24 percent. Intel's Itanium chip currently shares less than 5 percent of the market. Intel has said it expects about 300,000 Itaniums will be sold by the end of 2005. The company did not provide estimates for 2004, but ended 2003 selling around 100,000 units.

So why are telcos buying into the Integrity/Itanium combination with the knowledge that Intel will be making its Xeon processor more like Itanium by adding 64-bit extensions and bringing the price of Itanium down to levels that will compete with Xeon?

Illuminata principal analyst Gordon Haff suggests that, like the financial sector, telecommunications companies are technology savvy customers that are willing to try and use the latest architectures.

"Things always get cheaper, but if you are a telco you may well consider Itanium, even if you don't need it, you may go with it so then you have a stable platform going forward," Haff told internetnews.com. "It will depend on the individual and partly on what you want to deploy. In a broader system you would go to Xeon. The 64-extensions do provide possibilities where before they were starting to run into modest headroom issues."

HP also points to the wide amount of enterprise software that has been ported to Itanium. One third of all HP Superdome mainframes shipping today are configured with Microsoft Windows Server 2003, according to Cox. The remaining two thirds are made up mostly of HP-UX systems. For telephony networks, HP said its Integrity cx2600 carrier-grade server, announced in October 2003, has been a good seller.

Cox said HP is also in the final stages of Linux software certification for Integrity systems and is close to adding Open VMS to the mix. The Itanium version of HP's Non-Stop kernel is also shipping later this year as a controlled release and in volume amounts in 2005.