Sun, HP, IBM, Compaq begin enterprise battle

Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard users expect Compaq Computer's recent purchase of Digital Equipment will open more options for them on the mid-range. But they expect to keep their high-end systems right where they are, thank you very much.

"For the low and medium-end, we will certainly take a look at what offerings this new alliance will bring," said one user.

"But Sun is still going to be very secure in our high-end server environment" in the foreseeable future, he said.

The Digital purchase sets the stage for what analysts predict will be a tough battle among IBM, Sun, HP and Compaq for enterprise accounts.

The acquisition gives Compaq new Windows NT scalability and available technologies in crucial application areas such as mail and messaging and Exchange server environments.

That should help Compaq consolidate its No. 1 position in the Windows NT server and workstation markets and position it well against low-end Unix servers and workstations, said James Garden, an analyst at Technology Business Research.

Sun, a Unix-only vendor, could feel the most pressure at least in the low-end and mid-range markets, predicted Dale Kutnick, president of Meta Group.

Its lack of Windows NT products already has cost Sun its leading position in the overall workstation market, Unix and NT combined, to HP, according to recent International Data Corp figures.

It is HP that could prove to be Compaq's biggest threat in the mid-range arena.

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