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HP chases Sun Oracle server shops

Freebies, discounts, and credits

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Now that shareholders of Sun Microsystems have voted to approve Oracle's $5.6bn (£3.4bn) takeover, Unix rival HP is trying to cull customers from the Solaris herd and move them to ProLiant or Integrity machines running Windows, Linux, or HP-UX.

In the past six months, HP says, more than 100 Sun customers have migrated from Sun servers and storage to HP iron. The company also claims that by using total cost of ownership/return on investment tools created by Alinean, HP can demonstrate that Sun Solaris customers pay up to 80 per cent more to run certain workloads on Sun iron than on comparable HP iron.

I'm fairly sure that you can find workloads and server configurations that show the opposite.

HP's marketing speak will not be enough to convince even nervous Sun shops to jump ship, which is why HP announced the Sun Complete Care program on Thursday. Under the deal, HP is offering Sun shops free migration and TCO assessments if they consider ditching Sun iron for HP boxes.

There are also free migration assessments for customers using Oracle or SAP application software, and free custom server-building services through HP's Factory Express program.

HP is waving a number of financial incentives, such as deferrals of payments on leased equipment for 90 days and zero per cent lease offerings in the United States and Canada for Sun shops jumping to Integrity or ProLiant servers.

The deal also lets customers choose between trade-in credits for Sparc servers when they buy any Integrity machine or the eight-socket ProLiant DL785 Opteron server, or the "green" disposal of those Sun Sparc servers. The trade-ins involve giving customers the fair market value of the Sparc iron they ditch plus cash-back equal to 10 percent of the purchase price of memory and disk features on the HP iron, as well as on UPS and PDU power equipment. HP is tossing more cash back on its c-Class blade enclosures, and tops the trade-in credits at 15 per cent of the value of the acquired HP gear.

On the software front, HP is giving an 85 per cent discount on HP-UX 11i v3 Base Operating Environment licenses, which costs from $225 to $2,370 per core on Itanium iron, and a 50 per cent discount on HP-UX 11i v3 Virtual Server Operating Environment licenses, which cost from $4,420 to $7,200 per core. (You can get the rundown on HP-UX pricing here.)

While these HP-UX discounts are interesting, it is far more likely that Solaris shops will simply want to port their apps to Solaris 10 running on ProLiant machinery. If HP really wants to win over Sun accounts, all it needs to do is start preloading Solaris 10 on ProLiants, certify them, and make sure they cost less than competitive configurations of Sun's own iron.

Anyway, HP is also kicking in discounts on education and training on its products, ranging from 15 to 30 per cent off, and is offering four-year and five-year support contracts to Sun jumpers at 15 per cent off.

What is not written into the Sun Complete Care program, and which has to be true, is that customers moving a lot of iron are going to get a much sweeter deal than all of this - even in this difficult economy.

Once a customer moves server platforms, they tend to stick there for a while unless something goes horribly wrong. And it's far smarter to sacrifice some profits in the short term than walk away from a Sun-to-HP account conversion. ®

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