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How many quotations does it take to screw a server vendor? As it turns out - two.

A renegade former Compaq customer has dished the dirt on its move into Sun Microsystems' clutches. Australian utility ActewAGL pumped a Sun press release full of criticism for HP's shift away from Alpha/Tru64 servers to systems running on Intel's infamous Itanium chip. Sun used the quotes to try to prove that its HP Away campaign is working as planned and bringing in big business.

"We no longer had any faith in HP's Tru64 technology and required alternative systems to provide 64-bit computing capability," said Carsten Larsen, CIO at ActewAGL. "Upon looking at what the market had to offer, we chose Sun Fire systems and the Solaris OS because it provided a simple yet robust, cost-effective solution."

And that's not all.

"We had reached the end of the line with our HP AlphaServer platform," added Debesh Halder, manager of Unix systems at ActewAGL. "The technology was four years old and struggling to cope with increased demand. However, we were not keen to move to the HP-Intel developed Itanium architecture, which is a relatively new technology. We were looking for a stable, proven platform and Sun was it."

Sun and HP have long engaged in a tit-for-tat struggle to pull customers from each other via various promotions. Typically, one vendor will offer free services or test hardware to customers in order to prove that its systems are cheaper and faster than rival gear. Given that both Sun and HP have been knocked about by IBM and Dell in recent quarters, one has to wonder if the hate campaigns are really paying off.

That said, Sun has set a new high with the latest win by being the first vendor in memory to get two customer quotations from the same customer in a single press release. That's the stuff of legend. Sun's press release editors, however, may have wanted to take a closer look at the statement that reads, "The migration to Sun has resulted in significant benefits for ActewAGL, including an average 50 percent improvement in performance, lower maintenance costs and ease of infrastructure management." Fifty percent better improvement over a four year-old box? Not quite as legendary, especially when you consider that Sun's systems now ship with dual-core chips. Surely this was a typo.

Bashing aside, the ActewAGL move away from HP does point to the incredible pain many customers feel over the Itanic embrace. Thousands of former Compaq customers have watched Tru64 be mauled and then seen key features in HP-UX get pushed back again and again. In addition, both Alpha and PA-RISC customers are being asked to embrace the rusty hulk of the Itanium as the flagship of their future data centers.

Users group studies here and here show how unfavorably customers have reacted to the Itanic vice. ®

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