Sun’s ‘HP Away’ Swipes at Itanium

Sun Microsystems Tuesday officially launched an aggressive attack on Hewlett-Packard and the computer and printer maker’s joint partnership with Intel .

Designed to take advantage of HP customers running Alpha processors and Tru64 operating systems, Sun unveiled its “HP Away” migration program as a “no-risk alternative” to being forced to migrate to Itanium-based systems — a platform Sun says has “a questionable track record and limited industry support.”

A spokesperson with HP was not immediately available for comment.

HP’s vision of the future for its AlphaServer customers is heavily reliant on the Itanium architecture, which is slowly making its way into server rooms. According to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s server roadmap, HP will eventually transfer all processor support from its Alpha chip line to Intel’s Itanium platform, which it co-developed. Sources close to HP tell the company’s currentl 40 percent support for the former DEC processor and its corresponding Compaq operating system will radically shift to less than 20 percent of HP’s total server lineup as early as 2005. The company is expected to completely abandon all Alpha support by 2013.

To that end, HP recently released a new version of its HP-UX operating system tailored to fit the Itanium architecture.

Sun says IT executives should realize that if Itanium server shipments don’t reach levels that are economically sustainable for HP, the company could be forced to consider migrating Alpha/Tru64 customers to still another platform. AlphaServer users have to move anyway, so Sun says it would rather customers try its UNIX variant Solaris on one of its SPARC-based systems preferably.

Under the migration plan, Sun is offering a two-week Alpha/Tru64 to Solaris OS migration assessment service. If the customer decides not to proceed with the Tru64 to Solaris migration, Sun said it will absorb the cost of the assessment. The company said it will defer payment for the entire migration-including Sun services, servers, and software-until completion of the engagement up to 90 days. And if the customer goes with the deal, Sun said it will take care of the application porting through its professional services group in concert with its ISV partners, systems administrators and Sun’s iForce centers.

With an estimated 400,000 Alpha/Tru64 installed servers, according to Sun’s stats, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company smells blood in the water.

“Its not everyday a competitor unlocks its vault and makes it easy to steal away their customers,” said Sun vice president Larry Singer. “We have a golden opportunity to grow our UNIX server leadership position. We’re fully mobilized to target the entire Alpha/Tru64 installed base, with the goal of moving a large percentage to Sun Solaris. We’re confident that customers comparing the proven track record of SPARC and Solaris to the shaky history of Itanium will choose Sun.”

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