Enterprise Unix Roundup: HP Has Integrity

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Mar 17, 2006

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And it has no intention of converging HP-UX with Solaris. The vendor discusses where the OS fits in its product stable. If ZFS isn't meeting your needs, consider IBM's General Parallel File System.

Amy Newman
Brian Proffitt

Two weeks ago, we reported on Sun's invitation to "converge" Solaris with HP-UX and thus bring some version of the combined OS into the ProLiant space.

If you've already forgotten (and believe us when we say, we wish we had), CEO Scott McNealy sent an open e-mail to HP CEO Mark Hurd with the subject line, "Let's converge HP-UX with Solaris 10" on the eve of a much-publicized Webcast HP held with Intel and Oracle.

HP, most assuredly irritated about Sun's attempt to steal some of the glam from its love-in, was mum. Two weeks later, we're still not clear on what what Sun meant by convergence (usurpation is probably a clearer description), but we did get a chance to hear HP's side of the story.

Is the OEM considering the offer?

"Definitely not," laughed Ute Albert, worldwide marketing manager, virtual server environment at HP.

HP-UX may be limited to the OEM's Integrity line, but it's a fairly substantial part of it. Albert says Integrity sales were up 90 percent in the fourth quarter 2005 and 94 percent in the first quarter 2006 compared to the prior years. During these same periods, HP-UX was installed on more than 50 percent of servers it shipped.

Granted, some of Integrity's growth and HP-UX's penetration is due to HP phasing out its Alpha and Nonstop lines and directing customers to Integrity. Not to be overlooked, however, is HP's $1 billion investment in Integrity and HP-UX. Its legacy runs deep enough that even if Integrity's growth is lumbering, continued investment will keep current customers in its deep pockets.

Customers hate change, and if you don't believe us, look around at the numerous NT4 or BeOS or (we dare say) Tru64 shops still out there. So long as an long-standing OS is supported, there will always be users. Especially when its roots run as deep and mission-critical as HP-UX.

We remain perplexed as to what Sun stands to gain from persuing this space. In the past year, Sun has aggressively pushed Solaris into the commodity space. HP-UX doesn't play in that space. According to Albert, "We have no plans to offer HP-UX on x86. Our strategic platform for HP-UX is Integrity."

Instead, HP is positioning HP-UX as "the environment of choice where uptime, virtualization, and high availability are mission-critical."

In other words: Environments well-suited for Itanium.

This makes sense to us. After all, Itanium is the successor to HP's PA-RISC lines from which, incidentally, HP-UX spawned.

Regardless of whether Itanium is Intel's undoing or its salvation, HP is in it too deep to pull out. By effectively wedding HP-UX's strategy to Itanium, it reiterates its commitment to the platform without widening the pool.

So, Sun is playing the commodity card for Solaris; HP remains propriety with HP-UX. We don't see one precluding the other, or even impacting the other. The commodity server economically meets some of the the needs of the user enterprise while potentially adding value, and the high-end proprietary offering meets specific heavy processing needs. Put in even simpler terms, just because you want cantaloupe, doesn't mean you don't want watermelon, too.

Unix sales and shipments may be on the decline, but it's still a multi-billion-dollar space that remains the IT backbone of many enterprises. The rise of the heterogeneous server room means the backbone won't be going anywhere soon, but it will need to adapt and integrate. After all, there's a place for cantaloupe and watermelon in nearly any fruit salad.

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