Sun adds AMD Opteron to its HP Away program

Sun Microsystems is employing another tactic in its attempts to lure Hewlett-Packard (HP) customers away from their RISC-based HP-UX servers. As part of Sun's HP Away program, users running HP RISC Unix boxes can migrate over to Sun's Solaris on Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit Opteron platform with Sun's assistance.

HP Away has been running since July 15, 2003 and started out as a program designed to help HP-UX RISC users to migrate to Sun Solaris on Sparc. Sparc is a Sun-specific microprocessor based on RISC technology.

HP is planning to stop developing on its RISC chip platform in 2005 and is encouraging its users to migrate over from its HP 9000 RISC-based boxes to its Integrity Intel Corp. Itanium-based servers.

In fact, during HP World this week in Chicago, HP released HP-UX 11i v2, a common Unix platform for its RISC-based 9000 Servers and its Itanium-based Integrity servers, the company said. HP said this will make it easier for its customers to migrate from the HP 9000 servers over to Integrity.

This is the main reason Sun is specifically targeting HP clients -- Sun is still a big player in the Unix RISC segment with its Sparc offerings. However, Greg Ambrose, research analyst at IDC, said Sun is not just targeting HP-UX users but customers using IBM AIX RISC-based machines as well.

"Right now there's not a lot of new growth happening in the Unix server market," he explained. As a result all players in this market are going after each other's customers and trying to gain an edge wherever they can, he added.

"Sun, more than IBM or HP, is primarily a RISC-Unix player," Ambrose said. "It has introduced some of the Intel stuff recently but 98 percent of its business is still RISC Unix, whereas HP and IBM are providing a broader platform choice to their customers. They both have Intel platforms, they're both bringing in Itanium whereas Sun is more focused on this competitive space."

Even though Sun is making more of an effort in the x86 area and now in the 64-bit space with its new Opteron addition, Ambrose doesn't think this will have much impact in the short-term.

"I don't really know how much interest this going to generate from its customer base or from the customers (Sun) is trying to win," he said. "Opteron is a new technology and we're seeing some penetration in the Canadian market but it's still a long way away from being an established, business-critical server platform."

The HP Away program essentially offers migration assistance to users of HP-UX RISC users. Keith Veira, project manager, client services at Sun Microsystems, said Sun will help users who qualify for the program devise a migration plan, which includes a free two-day workshop to help customers examine the technical requirements and cost involved to migrate to Solaris on Sparc.

Additionally, customers that meet Sun's requirements to participate in HP Away also get a two-week Tru64 or HP-UX to Solaris migration assessment service. If users decide to go ahead with the migration, they have to pay Sun's professional services group, which will help them with application porting to the new platform. If a user decides not to go ahead, Sun pays for the assessment.

Sun also offers financing and trade-in programs on HP's RISC UX servers, the company said.

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