Enterprise Unix Roundup: Thunderclouds of Battle Over the Horizon

By Brian Proffitt (Send Email)
Posted Apr 2, 2008


Brian Proffitt
With Spring finally arriving in the Midwest, a young man's fancy turns to — well, never mind, because I haven't been called "young" in quite a while. So, instead, my fancy will turn to — what else? IBM. Small skirmishes between IBM and HP seem to be heating up toward outright conflict. The winner? Us.

Big Blue has been stirring up a little smack talk lately around the enterprise neighborhood. My favorite was its announcement back in March to offer new customers trade-in credit for their old HP and Sun servers. Or any other server running Unix, for that matter.

When I saw the offer, I immediately thought of the "we honor competitor's coupons" signs I see in some of the stores in my home town.

It's not just any old competitor IBM is trying to shake up, though. It seems to have set one company directly in its sights: the venerable HP.

Enterprise Unix Roundup

From the press release:

IBM is specifically reaching out to users who are still buying HP PA-RISC systems, as those customers may no longer be able to buy PA-RISC systems from HP by year end and have so far resisted the migration path HP is proposing to HP Integrity Systems. IBM estimates there are more than 170,000 of these systems still in customer production ...

The 629K transaction per minute TPC-C result from a small, energy efficient eight-core IBM p550 offers 16 percent more database transaction performance. An eight-core p550 uses only nine percent of the energy costs compared to a 64-core HP 9000 Superdome PA-RISC 8700 (1) and uses only two percent of the space. The space savings is calculated based on a 64-core HP 9000 Superdome filling two cabinets resulting in a total of 128.9 cubic feet consumed, while the faster IBM p550 is a 4U server utilizing just two cubic feet or 1/10th of one standard 42U rack. Using 56 fewer cores, customers can also save up to 87 percent of the cost of software that has a licensing fee on a per core basis when migrating from the 64-core HP 9000 Superdome solution to the eight-core System p 550 Express ...

Here's the money quote:

"The new benchmark is also 1.6 times the performance of HP's Integrity rx6600 using Itanium 2."

Clearly, things are shaping up for a rumble. HP contacted me Tuesday morning looking to talk about HP-UX next week. I figure there's going to be some counter-marketing coming real soon.

IBM trash talk not withstanding, HP's call could also be related to the fact Red Hat just posted some very nice 4Q numbers late last week. Nowhere near the revenue levels of HP and IBM, but the continued growth rate has got to be making some folks at these companies wondering when Red Hat's ride to the top will end.

Frankly, I think its about time. It's good to see a little competition in the enterprise Unix arena. With the economy weakening here in the United States, I suspect the drive for customers' dollars and euros is about to get even more contentious. The obvious upside to this? When the competition is hot, the customer usually benefits.

Brian Proffitt is managing editor of JupiterWeb's Linux/Open Source channel, which includes Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, and AllLinuxDevices.

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