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HP confirms plan to attack Sun via Solaris

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HP has gone really, really public about its support for Sun Microsystems Solaris 10 operating system by sending out an internal memo.

HP has long "officially" supported various versions of Solaris on its Xeon- and Opteron-based servers. Now, however, it's kind of ready to talk about this support. The company this week "announced" support of Sun's version of Unix in a statement to staff, according to insiders.

The Solaris embrace is being pitched as HP's answer to disgruntled Sun customers trying to make their way off SPARC systems and onto HP's x86 kit.

"As HP is recognized as the leading supplier of standards-based servers, many Sun customers are approaching HP to help them make the transition," an HP spokesman told us. "Specifically in the entry-level UNIX server space, many Sun customers are looking to transition from under-performing SPARC systems running Solaris to better price/performance of an HP x86 platform running Linux.

"However, as we know, many of these customers have a large installed base of legacy technologies. They have invested in people and processes to run, manage and support this technology. Therefore, they are seeking help from HP to smooth the transition from a proprietary Solaris platform to HP standards-based servers by enabling some legacy Solaris environments during the transition."

The verbose spokesman continued.

"Enabling 64-bit Solaris 10 on Opteron-based ProLiant servers is an extension of HP's Sun Attack program - a way to provide a solution for customers who are interested in moving from Sun/Solaris to an Industry-Standard HP solution."

A hardware win is a hardware win, and a customer win is a customer win. So, HP makes a decent case for supplying and supporting Sun's operating system.

However, don't expect to see Sun fighting to stop customers from running Solaris on HP's boxes. An army of Solaris-equipped ProLiants would fit right into Sun's ambitious plans to sell more enterprise software and to advance the Solaris franchise.

We hope, for HP's sake, that this Solaris promotion isn't the central piece of the company's Sun Attack program.

Since reviving Solaris x86, Sun has now managed to push HP, IBM and Dell into admitting that they will sell the OS if customers ask for it.

HP has long been the most able Solaris x86 supporter. This is largely a result of a decent sized Solaris x86 business at Compaq. IBM follows with its recent agreement to let Sun service Solaris running on Big Blue's blades. And Dell only ships Solaris when customers order a ton of servers and demand the OS.

The impressive Solaris x86 download figures quoted by Sun and buzz around Open Solaris seem to center on academic users and hobbyists. This makes it difficult to tell how many large customers have decided to run Solaris x86 in production. If you are such a customer, please let us know.

In the meantime, you can check out HP's support matrix for 64-bit Solaris 10 here. It's an Opteron fiesta. ®

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