Forget about IBM; it looks like HP might need to buy Novell

Forget about IBM; it looks like HP might need to buy Novell

Summary: With the end of Itanium support for future versions of Windows Server and Red Hat Linux what does the future hold for HP's flagship enterprise-class servers?


I sat down at my desk this morning to find that Mary Jo Foley had already blogged about my planned topic for this morning, the demise of Itanium support in future generations of Windows Server. While I'm sure that generated a collective yawn from the x86 and x64-centric universe, I'll admit that my first thought was "what the heck does this mean to HP?"

 A few years back HP shelved their own RISC architecture processors in favor of the Itanium and has built an entire product line and high end strategy, the HP Integrity systems, on the Itanium processor. The end of Windows Server on the processor line is bad enough, but the end of Red Hat Linux support on it as well, bodes ill for the HP strategy.  Especially since other Linux vendors are currently quiet on the subject at this point in time.

 HP may need to adjust their marketing campaign...

This leaves HP with a very limited selection of enterprise general purpose operating systems for their big datacenter hardware; HP-UX and Open VMS.  In a world where broad third-party support is taken as a basic requirement for anything other than special purpose computing, HP-UX and OpenVMS enjoy only a small percentage of the support found for Linux or Windows. It also offers the unattractive situation for HP that the IBM Power Systems will enjoy broader OS support and hence offer a more attractive option to customers in the market for these classes of servers.

 Last week Christopher Dawson posted a list of reasons why IBM should buy Novell, but with this announcement by Microsoft and Red Hat it would seem that HP buying Novell (or perhaps HP partnering with Intel to make a joint purchase) would make far more sense right now.  Everything that Chris said about IBM buying Novell remains true with HP doing the buying, with the added bonus of guaranteeing that there would be continued development of Linux for HP's flagship processor. HP has made a significant investment in the Itanium-based Integrity servers and the limiting of future options for the processor isn't a recipe for long-term success.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Servers, Software

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  • A show of hands

    Glad I opted for the x86 blades instead of going integrity, but that's another story.

    My question is - who's still running Novell, and what services are they providing? It may just be my small exposure, but most of my peers are into MS, Linux, and VMware. I don't hear too many sys admins around me saying "We gotta get us some Novell!". Again, maybe I'm not in the know... but is anyone actually buying Novell products these days?
    • Novell is SUSE Linux...

      As well as having won the litigation with SCO over trademarks and such. Novell isn't NetWare anymore ;)
      David Chernicoff
    • We do!

      We run our entire enterprise on Novell products. Converted from Netware to SUSE based Open Enterprise Server (OES) several years ago. We run E-directory, GroupWise, Identity Manager, Storage Manager, ZENWorks for Desktops, Access Manger, iPrint and iFolder just to name a few. We run our web servers, our MySQL servers, our enterprise JAVA applications, portals and Content Management/Document Managment on Novell OES. We use Novell Cluster services, running on top of both physical servers and VMWare platform to support high availablity. We have been running all this on a SAN (iscsi) for 6+ years. It is very cost effective, very reliable and easy to admin. Security is a breeze, we point everything to e-directory so we do not have islands of authentication to manage.

      It may not be for everyone, and lord knows that Novell marketing is just as affective as DEC's was. But they have an excellent set of products if given the chance. Their Identity management, Storage Management and ZEN suites of products are real time and money savers.

      I do have a few Windows servers for non mission critical apps, like BES, that require windows only. But I have lived without MS AD and Novell has products that make e-directory look like it is an AD server so it is easy to integrate into an AD environmentif you happen to be stuck in one.

      I do not work for Novell, but I am proud to say that my career has been successful basing my network on Novell products.
      • Good to know

        Interesting stuff. And that's funny about DEC, we just dumped our vaxes a couple of years ago.

        I may have to fire up a few VMs and do a demo this weekend.

  • too many pundits here at zdnet

    there is a reason why red had and M$ are dropping does not sale!
    Why would you try to resuscitate a dying platform?
    Linux Geek
  • Why would HP need to buy Novel?

    If HP really wants Itanium support in Linux, there's not a need to buy an entire company, just hire some Itanium/Linux gurus to support the hardware specific portions (HAL equivalent?)
    You could easily hire the needed handful of people and keep them happy for years and years cheaper than buying all of Novel
    • That is not enough. You also need have a major Linux distribution releasing

      and supporting an Itanium version. Enterprises do not want to install Debian.
  • Forget them both

    HP? IBM? Forget that! I could see Microsoft buying Novell and adding those nice Unix patents into their portfolio, not to mention making them a major player in the Open Source movement.
    • I doubt the FTC would allow it.

      Could you see the government allowing Microsoft to have ownership of both Windows and Unix?

      That would be two of the 3 largest operating systems.
  • Netware 'Merced' never panned out

    Does Novell even have a product for Itanium? Last I checked (admittedly years ago), 64-bit Netware 'Merced' for Itanium never panned out. It ended up being another pipe-dream product (like SuperNOS) from Novell.
  • Correction

    In addition to HP-UX and OpenVMS, HP is also using the Itanium
    processor with Non-Stop (formerly TANDEM brand). Not that this
    chances the numbers in a significant way...

    Now IMHO, HP-UX is rather redundant operating system these
    days (it is not a bad OS but Linux is where the action is in
    the Unix-like world) and I guess HP could choose to have
    Novell and then choose to migrate HP-UX's extras gradually
    into SUSE. Note that since Novell has significant agreements
    with IBM for its SUSE Linux, such a move can give HP some
    strong cards for competing with IBM.
    • Non Stop

      I actually left Non Stop out intentionally; it's used by a very narrow market segment, and, as you noted, it doesn't change the numbers significantly.
      David Chernicoff
  • Could be a good thing

    If HP bought Novell it might finally get serious about Linux on the
    desktop; it would be great if there were some real choice there.

    I suspect HP is a little distracted at the moment trying to digest 3Com...
  • RE: Forget about IBM; it looks like HP might need to buy Novell

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