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IBM Unix tops customer satisfaction survey

IBM topped a customer satisfaction survey of 277 enterprise Unix customers on the strength of its processor performance, operating system features and support services. Sun jumped into second place ahead of HP.

IBM is the leading Unix vendor for customer satisfaction, according to a survey of 277 enterprise Unix shops.

Gabriel Consulting Group, based in Beaverton, Ore., said that IBM topped the list on both the technical and support sides for the second year in a row. Sun Microsystems Inc. slid into second place ahead of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP).

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Dan Olds, principal at the consulting group, said the survey asked data center managers and systems administrators which Unix vendor they preferred. Most respondents were in a position to compare vendors: 76% had at least two variants of Unix in their data centers, and 37% had three or more.

Olds said that IBM built its lead with a giant service organization, developing technologies to improve processor performance on its Power chip and the usability of its AIX operating system.

"IBM also did well in partitioning and virtualization capabilities, which are growing bigger over time," he said.

Other findings of the survey:

  • Sun scored well on system management, scalability and best initial quality categories.
  • HP did well on operating system categories but finished second or third in every one of the 15 technology criteria categories. It did take first in the "Keeps Their Promises" category under service criteria.
  • About 42% said IBM would be the dominant Unix vendor in five years, followed by Sun with 34% and HP with 24%.

Sun grabbing the second spot away from HP symbolizes its focus on the Unix market this past year, Olds said, adding that Sun and IBM made a lot more Unix announcements than HP did and thus were able to capture more mindshare.

Another factor that may have hurt HP? When the surveys were out in the field, the corporate pretexting scandal at the company was coming to light.

"It seemed to erode trust in HP a little bit," Olds said.

On the plus side for HP, customers have few reservations about Itanium anymore. Almost 70% of respondents said they agree with the Itanium strategy, plan to migrate from PA-RISC and think the application and support ecosystems are large enough now.

What about the future? Olds thinks the vendor that can provide "business value" -- meaning attributes such as virtualization, optimization and automation management -- will come out on top.

Olds added that many data center shops are still running one application per one Unix server, but that's changing as Unix servers take on the role as enterprise machines.

"Now you're running multiple applications per system and being able to get much more bang for your computing system, and that's what we're really talking about," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.

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