In July 2003, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced a competitive replacement program targeting Tru64 Unix customers running on Hewlett-Packard Co’s AlphaServer line. In March of this year, after converting some 80 customers from AlphaServers to Sparc/Solaris boxes, Sun decided to start chasing the HP 9000 installed base with this “HP Away” competitive replacement program.
A little more than a year later, and Sun has taken away 150 of HP’s customers, with the vast majority of them being multi-million dollar accounts buying Sun Fure 6800 or larger servers, according to John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun’s Network Systems Group.
As of this week, Fowler is involved with the HP Away program since Sun is expanding it from Sparc/Solaris servers to Sparc/Opteron machines, which fall in his NSG domain. While the HP Away program has thus far been focused on big Tru64 and HP-UX shops, by pushing a Solaris-Opteron alternative, Sun might be able to go after the core HP Unix midrange accounts, where the bulk of HP’s installed base of around 400,000 to 500,000 Unix boxes that are out there in the world running HP-UX or Tru64 Unix. (HP probably has another 300,000 to 400,000 VAX and AlphaServers installed running VMS or OpenVMS).
With the delivery of four-way Opteron machines and Solaris 10 later this year, with container partitions and 64-bit support, a jump from HP’s Unix to Solaris seems more plausible than a jump to Sparc/Solaris for at least some conservative HP Unix shops. We think that by supporting Solaris-Opteron we’ll have more opportunity to chase, says Fowler. Time will tell.
The HP Away program has various incentives to help HP Unix users to migrate to Sun servers running Solaris. On the big boxes, these incentives include a free two-day assessment to determine the cost and technical requirements for migration and a further two-week assessment service, for which Sun will consume the costs if the customer decides against the move.
Sun has also been offering application porting services, finance and trade-in offers and a 90-day deferred payment scheme to sweeten the move from HP to Sun hardware. And customers who sign up for a migration do not have to pay Sun a dime until the work is done and they are happy with the migration.
On the Solaris for x86 variant of the HP Away program, Sun is offering tools and best practices guides to help with the move as well as subscription-based pricing on servers and 3.9% financing with no interest or payments until 2005. Fowler says that the exact features and pricing of this augmented HP Away program will be detailed in a few weeks, and it looks like Sun pre-launched the program to take advantage of the bad press HP got last week from its missed earnings.