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Club opens for recovering Itanium server sellers

12-step program to redemption

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"Hello. My name is SGI, and I'm an Itanium user."

So we imagine the beginning of the first Itanium Solutions Alliance (ISA) meeting. This organization of Itanic backers officially came to life today, bringing with it years of sorrow and dashed sales dreams. All the big server vendors are there. Well, except for IBM, Dell and Sun Microsystems. But, hey, who needs those guys around, flaunting their server sales. Itaniums Anonymous, er, ISA is all about being positive and looking to the future. It has a 12-step program set up that promises redemption and maybe even sales.

The new group - made up of HP, SGI, Oracle, BEA and others - plans to counter Itanium's slow adoption by dangling dollars and equipment in front of software developers. "All programs will provide software developers resources to speed application optimization for Itanium solutions as well as ultimately providing end customers with a richer set of solution alternatives," ISA said. The organization will even go so far as to hold "developer days" in which it will tell the Windows and Linux crowds about the epic nature of EPIC.

We'll spare those of you who aren't part of the exclusive Itanium users club the rest of the details. However, the brave souls out there who did board the Itanic can look here for all the relevant propaganda.

A number of analysts were left looking like the Muddle-Headed Wombat after the ISA revealed itself. After all, HP and Intel, among others, have already spent plenty of time and money promoting Itanium. The vendors have long had handouts ready for developers, systems builders and customers willing to give Itanic a go.

"It's hard to see the Itanium Solutions Alliance accomplishing anything major that the billions already spent by HP, Intel, and the rest haven't," noted Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. "You don't see an x86 Solutions Alliance."

(Haff had more to say on the subject in this note.)

Itanium, however, could use a boost these days. This year has seen IBM and Dell give up on their efforts to sell Itanium-based servers and major Itanium backer HP pull its line of workstations. HP dominates the Itanium market, leaving a few scraps for struggling SGI and even fewer scraps for the likes of Hitachi, NEC and Bull. Intel's hopes for a thriving Itanium ecosystem have long collapsed.

It's life-support time now. ®

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