Just as HP and Intel, along with Oracle, are about to have their Itanium lovefest, Sun CEO Scott McNealy (pictured at the SunRay keyboard presumably typing his letter) fired off his public letter to HP CEO Mark Hurd, encouraging him to shelve HP-UX for Itanium and adopt Solaris 10. Here's the gist of his note:
We propose an alternative - that Sun and HP commit to converge HP-UX with Sun's flagship volume UNIX, Solaris 10.
As Unix operating systems, HP-UX and Solaris 10 share a common heritage. By combining our resources and investments, HP's customer and developer communities would gain the benefit of the fastest growing operating system in the marketplace: improved economics, rapid innovation, and a rich future roadmap otherwise unavailable to your Proliant user base (given that HP-UX doesn't run on Proliant).
Here's some of the subtext from the Inquirer:
Larry Singer, a Sun senior VP, said: "HP's Itanium event this week reminds of the old line 'trying to put lipstick on a pig'". He said: "This is a processor IDC predcted would represent $33 billion in server sales by 2002, and by 2004 had still only accounted for $1.4 billion. Both IBM and Dell ended support citing a lack of customer interest. HP is in a bind, committed to forcing its customers to move to an unpopular architecture and no amount of theatre can change its predicament."
The idea is to get Solaris supported across HP's entire server product line. What's in it for Sun? An outcome in which Solaris could gain some ground on Linux, expand the market for developers, and have a bigger channel for the bucketloads of Sun hardware and "free" software products tuned for the environment. Sun doesn't seem to fear a more level playing field--based on open sourcing software and hardware designs.
In speaking about open sourcing its products, McNealy said: "Our view is if you don't have a controversial strategy, you don't have a chance in making a profit. Otherwise you have nothing to differentiate." I wouldn't call it controversial, but is could be disruptive over time, if the support, service and ongoing evolution of the platform are exemplary.
Sun has spent the last several months dissing HP-UX, including a claim that 70 percent of the market doesn't know that HP-UX is at the end of its life. Hurd is, after seeing him perform the last several months, very practical and capable. Is it worthwhile to have several thousand developers cranking on HP-UX for low volume servers in perpetuity? If not, what are the operating system alternatives? Should he wait for Linux to catch up with Solaris in the segment in which HP-UX has played?