Sun Expands ‘HP Away’ Program To Lure Unix Customers

Sun Microsystems has announced it will expand its HP Away programin a bid to lure Hewlett-Packard’s Unix customers. The company will dangle its own Unix operatingsystem, Solaris, as an alternative to HP-UX.

Sun initially launched the HP Away strategy almost two years agowhen HP began to phase out its Alpha/Tru64 platform in favor ofItanium-based servers. Since then, Sun claims 80 customers havemigrated to its HP alternatives, representing as much as US$200million in additional revenue for the Santa Clara,California-based company.

“We’re expanding the program to take advantage of an inflectionpoint in the industry,” Sun senior vice president Larry Singer said.”We’re addressing the disruption around HP’s architectural roadmapand its neglect of a key customer base.”

Sun estimates more than 270,000 customers are using HP-UX or relatedplatforms. The company is dangling several carrots to lure HP customers to Solaris, including a lease buy-down program designed to level out the costs of migration, plus free two-week migration assessments that take into account the applications beingmoved as well as how a company’s data storage needs might change as a resultof the move.

Nothing New

HP could not be reached for comment. But as a top server-sales leader, itlikely has grown accustomed to having competitors attempt to use any meansat their disposal to grab market share.

Last year, for example, when HP announced it would phase out sales andsupport for its venerable, 30-year-old e3000 server line, IBM tried touse the occasion to highlight its ability to migrate customers from HPservers to its own.

“Given how fierce the competition is at the top of the servermarket, any delay or product change — anything that could cause customerfrustration or confusion — is going to be an invitation for competitors topounce,” IDC vice president Jean Bozman told the E-Commerce Times. “With ITspending starting to pick up, companies may have budgets lined up and belooking for somewhere to spend them.”

Sun’s latest announcement comes as HP’s customer base is stilldigesting news that HP will begin offering servers loaded with AMD’s 64-bitprocessors while still trying to maintain as much loyalty as possible to theIntel Itanium chip it helped develop. “Sun is banking on the news being confusingand off-putting to customers who might be ready to make a change,” Bozman said.

Market Fluctuations

The move also came as research firm Gartner reported Sun is slipping in theoverall server market-share race. Gartner’s data shows IBM extending its worldwidelead, with Dell moving up and threatening to bump Sun from the number three spot.HP occupies the number two slot.

Dell was the fastest-growing server seller last year, according to Gartneranalyst Joseph Gonzalez, and now sits only about 3 percentage points behindSun.

“The server market’s really in flux,” Gonzalez told the E-Commerce Times.”On the Unix and Linux side and in the Intel market, the fight is goingto last for a while.”

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