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HP Unwavering in Unix Support

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A decade ago, Intel was shipping the Pentium II processor and Linux was a fringe operating system used by a few Internet fanatics. No one at the time would ever have thought the two in combination would be a match for Sun’s SPARC/Solaris combination, HP’s PA-RISC/HP-UX, IBM’s POWER/AIX or SGI’s MIPS/IRIX.

The OEM is reiterating its commitment to HP-UX as its high-end operating system for mission-critical customers and offers a promise of longevity for it.

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Funny what a decade can do.

Even though there has been a big shift in the marketplace, high-end Unix has not curled up and died in spite of the advent of Windows and Linux Server. IDC puts the market at around $19 billion annually with single-digit annual growth, and the market is split almost evenly between Sun, HP and IBM.

“The market’s at $19 billion. That’s still good money if you can get 30 percent of that,” said Brian Cox, director of software marketing and planning in HP’s business critical systems division.

HP may have given up on its proprietary RISC processor, abandoning PA-RISC in favor of Intel’s Itanium, but HP-UX seems here to stay. The company is reiterating its commitment to HP-UX as the high-end operating system for its most mission-critical customers, and it wants them to know there is a long-term promise of the operating system.

“We want to be able to have customers buy HP-UX today with the full confidence that two decades from now they can continue to run HP-UX for all their mission-critical deployments,” Cox told

“When you sell into a bank or stock exchange, they don’t rip-and-replace that stuff every couple of years,” he added. “What’s paramount to them is the stability and reliability of that deployment. They keep it for ten years.”

HP-UX is currently on its 11th major release, which came a decade ago. However, HP-UX 11i has been updated constantly since then. It’s currently on what the company calls Version 3, with Version 4 due in three years and Version 5 planned for three years after that. In addition, the company does minor updates every six months to update the kernel and add new features.

Cox said while Windows Server and Linux are not viewed as the enemy, HP’s feels they lack maturity compared to its own offering, which dates its lineage back to 1983, and boasts some impressive capabilities. For instance, HP-UX can support up to 128 processors, 256 threads, 1TB of memory and support for up to 100 zettabytes (define) of storage.

“For all the stuff companies have to retain these days with regulatory compliance, they need it,” Cox said. “We projected out for those customers what their situation will be a decade from now and what they will need for the headroom not only to archive, but pull up and display any of these files and get at it quickly.”

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