Now armed with its 64-bit Ultra Enterprise Servers and new SparcStorage RAID arrays, Sun Microsystems Inc’s revamped a year-old competitive trade-in and migration program, this time offering users credits of up to 40% on Sun kit when they trade in HP T500 or IBM SP servers or EMC disk arrays, plus the usual migration assistance. […]
Now armed with its 64-bit Ultra Enterprise Servers and new SparcStorage RAID arrays, Sun Microsystems Inc’s revamped a year-old competitive trade-in and migration program, this time offering users credits of up to 40% on Sun kit when they trade in HP T500 or IBM SP servers or EMC disk arrays, plus the usual migration assistance. It’s a nice sales story but there’s no evidence to suggest that this or previous offers materially impact sales in any way given Sun doesn’t break out its numbers or offer indicators for judging performance. Sun-watchers at International Data Corp say that trade-in and migration programs are not usually the things that turn a sale in any case. However what Sun does hope to capitalize on in addition to its shiny new Sunfires, is the fear, uncertainty and doubt being created around the future for users of Hewlett-Packard Co’s long-in-the-tooth T500 series servers. Sure, they’ll get a 64-bit PA-RISC 8000 makeover later in the year, but HP’s throwing both its architecture and operating system in the air with the forthcoming migration to Intel Corp’s Merced processor and 3DA Unix. It’s clear that no-one yet understands the migration issues, and a chip and OS change isn’t likely to be an altogether smooth ride despite what any vendor might say. IBM has problems creating high-end Unix SMP servers and there’s still a big question mark over its 64-bit plans, but customers that buy IBM tend to stick with it. And Sun’s apparently targeting SP users for the trade-in program – currently Big Blue’s high flyer. Where’s the sense there? Sun believes EMC, whose Symmetrix RAID is the largest third-party RAID storage deployed with its servers, has taken its eye off the ball and is vulnerable on performance, scaling and price when compared to the Sun SparcStorage array. Whilst Sun still leads the technical Unix market from whence it came, it’s back in third place in the commercial Unix space according to IDC’s 1995 numbers which show HP having 18% of the market with sales of $3.5bn, IBM Corp with 17% and Sun with 10.5%. Given Sun’s in its best shape for ages – new products and the competition facing upgrade, migration and design issues – if it pushes all the right buttons, IDC’s Gene Lee believes the Mountain Viewer could improve its position to a 15% share of the market this year. Quoted elsewhere, Hancock Institutional Equity Services analyst CB Lee estimates Sun’s June quarter Ultra Enterprise Server sales of 6,000 were 200% to 300% above plan; it’s looking for 10,000 in the current quarter.