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HP offers Sun SPARC shops ProLiant alternative

HP now counts several ProLiant server models as certified to run Sun Solaris 10, paving the way for Sun SPARC shops to migrate off legacy RISC hardware.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) is doing its best to lure dissatisfied Sun Microsystems Inc. server customers to its x86-based HP ProLiant platforms, and Sun insists it couldn't be happier about it.


By expanding certification of the 64-bit version of the Solaris 10 operating system on seven of its existing Intel Corp. Xeon-based HP ProLiant servers, HP is opening its door to users who are ready to abandon Sun's SPARC-based servers.


HP has certified various versions of Solaris in both 32- and 64-bit mode on select Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) Opteron- and Intel Xeon-based HP ProLiant servers since 1996. The certifications announced yesterday include the HP ProLiant BL20p G4; BL460c; BL480c; DL360 G5; DL380 G5; DL580 G4; and ML570 G4 servers.


Sun sees the effort to attract Solaris 10 users as a compliment. The company has been pushing for adoption of Solaris onto x86 servers, and this effort to seduce its SPARC users plays right into Sun's plan, said Tom Goguen, vice president of Sun's Operating Platforms Group.


"HP is affirming our strategy of adoption of Solaris 10, and I commend them for getting on the bandwagon," Goguen said.


HP, which claims to have shipped more than a half million more x86-based servers worldwide than Sun in the third quarter of 2006 and grew its shipments year over year by almost two times the entire number of platforms Sun shipped, serves as a steady vehicle for Solaris operating systems.


Echoes of Intel partnership


HP's effort to gain Solaris users follows a Jan. 22 endorsement of the Solaris operating system by Intel in exchange for Sun committing to deliver servers based on Intel Xeon processors, expected early this year.


"Combined with the Intel endorsement, having Solaris supported by HP ProLiant is great for our customers," Goguen said.


Jeff Carlat, HP's director of Industry Standard Servers Software, said HP's support of Solaris on ProLiant, in conjunction with support for Microsoft, Red Hat Inc., Novell Inc. and others, makes HP more attractive to a variety of IT environments.


Carlat said HP is making the effort to move Sun customers off SPARC and onto its own hardware because those customers are itching to switch.


"Sun customers are targeting HP with the desire to move to our industry-leading ProLiant platform. (It isn't that) HP is specifically targeting Solaris customers," Carlat said.


Pund-IT analyst Charles King said Sun's SPARC customer base may have hundreds of older SPARC rack-mounted servers that, in comparison to the x86 servers available today, are a bit slow. "Why run an old SPARC when you can do the same work on an x86," King said. "The x86s are becoming more attractive now, especially with virtualization."


Of course, it isn't just the prospect of smiley users driving HP's efforts.


Recruiting Sun customers has been a lucrative business for HP, generating more than $1 billion in revenue from the transactions since 2004, the company said.


HP is incentivizing SPARC users who cross over to HP ProLiant, BladeSystem Integrity and StorageWorks platforms with automated tools, system trade-ins, financial incentives, migration assistance and integrated support capabilities.


HP could not immediately provide a SPARC user who switched to HP ProLiant server to comment in this article.


HP sells its Unix operating system, HP-UX 11i, as beneficial to Solaris customers with expansive workloads. HP-UX, together with HP Virtual Server Environment and HP Serviceguard, enable mission-critical applications to run in a virtual environment.


Paving the way


In conjunction with the certification announcement, HP publicized a new relationship with Transitive Corp., which ports software across multiple processor and operating system pairs.


Transitive's QuickTransit for Solaris/SPARC-to-Linux/x86-64 solution enables applications that have been compiled for the Solaris on SPARC to run on certified 64-bit HP ProLiant platforms running Linux without requiring any source code or binary changes, HP reported.


More information about Solaris on HP ProLiant servers.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Bridget Botelho, News Writer

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