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Analyst: HP's overtures to Sun 'a marketing thing'

An industry analyst opines on Hewlett-Packard's courtship of Sun Solaris customers; HP is offering a migration plan valued at close to $25,000.

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s new Linux migration plan, targeted at snatching Sun Microsystems Inc.'s enterprise Solaris customers, is being brushed aside as a marketing ploy.

HP announced late last week that it would offer users of the Solaris operating system $25,000 in services, including system assessments and help with porting and migration. Enterprises interested in jumping ship from Solaris to an HP Linux-based system would receive a free assessment of their porting and migration needs for up to three applications and free porting of one application. Also, HP is offering a ProLiant server for 30 days of testing, as well as a free HP StorageWorks storage area network assessment.

"It's mostly a marketing thing, an eye-catcher," said Bill Claybrook, research director for Linux and open source at Boston-based Aberdeen Group. "I don't know how many people would actually take advantage of such a thing. It would just be a guess."

The migration program is HP's latest overture to enterprises using Linux. Recently, the company offered its Linux customers indemnification against potential legal action from the SCO Group, which is suing IBM for $3 billion, charging them with intellectual property damages. SCO Group sued, charging that IBM illegally donated code from SCO's System V Unix to Linux. SCO has also threatened legal actions against commercial Linux users who refuse to pay the firm a license fee. As with the migration program, however, Claybrook says, HP won't have to act on indemnification.

"The chances they'll have to pay through on the indemnification are very small anyway," Claybrook said. "I think HP is tired of playing second fiddle to IBM."

IBM has refused to indemnify its customers, unlike Sun, which has offered to shield users of the Mad Hatter desktop Linux product.

Sun's only clear Linux position is on the desktop. Executive vice president Jonathan Schwartz and even CEO Scott McNealy have done their best to distance Sun from Linux, claiming they offer products featuring the open source operating system because of customer interest. Solaris is Sun's prime product, they said.

"If a user is interested in Linux, Sun is a poor risk right now," Claybrook said. "The offerings Sun has right now for Linux and their road map [do] not go beyond a two-way processor. There is no four-way plan. There is no 64-bit plan that I can see."

Sun offers Solaris on an eight-way machine, and Claybrook said that a Sun customer is almost forced to consider another vendor if it wants to move to Linux.

"I think Sun is in deep, deep denial [about Linux]," Claybrook said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: news exclusive: "Analyst firm urges caution on Sun's Linux strategy" news exclusive: "Sun CEO -- Linux is for 'hobbyists', not enterprise"

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