The deed is done: now are you better off?

The deed is done: now are you better off?

Summary: As a general thing, upgrades based on support cost savings make financial sense - but whether they leave you better off generally depends on other factors.


Scenario 1:

Congratulations! The virtual "you" has done the deed: the last HP RP8440 - always a relative piece of junk because designed for Itanium and sold with the incompatible PA-8900 - is gone, and a couple of nice shiny new Proliants have taken its place. Linux rules! HP-UX? is history - and you've got a few thousand bucks left over after "cashing in" your support budget on the capital change.

This is a clear win because you got big gains out of it: the Proliants are faster, cost less to buy, less to maintain, will likely have comparable or better reliability, and support a far wider range of high quality software - much of it free and all of it cheaper to use than any PA-RISC counterpart it may have.

The only downside is that now you're a little more susceptible to both external (PC security style) attack and internal (Wintel monomania) attacks - but hey, for you, neither is a big deal.

Scenario 2:

Congratulations! The virtual "you" we've been imagining has done the deed: the last Sun SPARC box is gone, and a couple of nice shiny new Proliants have taken its place. Linux rules! Solaris? is history - and you've got a few thousand bucks left over after "cashing in" your support budget on the capital change.

But now I can't copy the second paragraph above for use here because the benefits aren't so clear: Yes, the Proliants cost less now than the old SPARC machines did - and they'll cost less to maintain - but an upgrade to the T2 line would have cost even less; the Proliants aren't really faster overall but a T2 would have been; the Proliants are neither quite as reliable nor quite as secure as the old gear; you've lost Solaris capabilities from dTrace to ZFS; and, any Linux software you can run on them could also have been migrated to both old and new SPARC machines with very little trouble.

Still, you're arguably better off because.. What? lots of people who don't use either one praise Linux over Solaris?

Given some specifics I could probably argue this one either way - but think that there are more cases in which the upgrade to a T2 (or an M series) would have cost less, foreclosed fewer options, and been strategically as well as technically preferable, then the other way around.

The difference I think is this:

  • going from HP-UX with PA-RISC in an Itanium box to Linux on a higher end x86 machine is a sidestep out of a deadend and back onto the road, because HP has all but abandoned both to concentrate on putting bruises on other people's bananas - and, of course, on a personal basis, the fact that the company has never had the commitment to building customer careers that makes IBM the real employer of reference for most IBM loyalists, means that there's really no reason not to abandon them.
  • going from SPARC/Solaris to Linux on x86, in contrast, is a clear leap backward on both hardware and software because there isn't much you can do on Linux that you can't do better on Solaris, while Sun's "coolthreads" stuff is leading edge -an order of magnitude better on bang for the buck than x86.

And that's really the bottom line difference: both scenarios usually work on the money, but one makes strategic, business, personal, and technical sense - and the other often doesn't.

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Please detail these "PC security style attacks".

    [i]The only downside is that now you?re a little more susceptible to both external (PC security style) attack and internal (Wintel monomania) attacks - but hey, for you, neither is a big deal.[/i]

    IME security issues are overwhlemingly at the OS/Application layer. Few, if any, external threats specifically target hardware. And how does a system running a non-Windows OS become susceptible to "Wintel monomania" attacks? Better yet what specifically is a "Wintel monomania" attack?
    • Monomania...

      Monomania is the desire that everything be the same, which from an organizational management perspective is good because it's less to remember, and presumably results in better TCO from reduced complexity. It can often result as a side effect of someone having market leadership, such as the oracle stranglehold on my organization.

      Not that oracle isnt a good product, but for some of our projects it is overkill and wasted money. MySQL can get the job done, but monomania funnels more money into oracle's pockets.

      A system that is CAPABLE of running a windows OS that isnt, and that is compatible with an Intel processor but isnt an intel processor but doesnt have one, you get managers asking "well why dont we buy this seemingly equal piece of equipment and put this standard image on it and run this software that does the same thing on it?". Whereas, with a sun-made box, "wintel" doesnt do the same thing and doesnt have the same features, and may just cost a bunch more to do the same.

      And the answer to your pc security style attack question is that both linux and windows running on expectable hardware is a lot more vulnerable than HP-UX running on a grandfather clock or Solaris running on a mini-super computer. Let's face it, no one still uses the one, and the other isnt nearly enough of the market to command the attention of money-driven cyber criminals.

      That being said, you can block nearly all of it out with an F5, a MARS/IPS/ASA setup, and proper baselining.
    • He also doesn't know. He's just a jerk who loves to hate on MS and Intel...

      He doesn't even know what the crap he is talking about.
      • what's to love about them?

        I mean, you're looking at two companies that have maintained their positions primarily by abusing them.

        At times, Intel is a little bit ahead in performance, but other times AMD is beating them by a mile. How come AMD's market share has never reflected this? Monopolist practices on the part of Intel.

        And microsoft is even worse. You dont get the level of lock-in a typical windows stack infrastructure produces without trying to ensure that no one ever uses products you didnt make.

        I'm not saying microsoft and intel dont make products worth using. I use intel chips all the time for various things. Hell, on occasion i bring myself to use windows... but the fact remains that they are monopolist companies in market leadership positions, and they arent always the technology leaders. Paul clearly thinks that linux and solaris are technology leaders compared to windows, and has a blog about why he thinks so.

        Personally, i get equal headaches from both windows and *nix. The difference is that the *nix headaches go away sooner because i'm never tempted to just reboot and hope the problem doesnt come back with friends. I can also keep it running non-stop for years if there arent any problems. Do that with windows.
        • Ask the people who consistently vote these companies in the most admired

          category. I don't have time to explain to anti-MS zealots pretending to be otherwise...
    • What means monomania attack:

      I believe the monomania 'attack' refered to in the article is the temptation for upper or middle management to get a great price from a vendor to 'upgrade' all of the company's machines to MS-Windows desktops and servers, regardless of what the company's computer functions would be best served by... or the temptation of management to say, gee, we are running all these Wintel desktop machines. If we went to Wintel for our servers, we could fire the Unix guy and let our Wintel support cover the servers, too.
  • Ok Castles in the Air finished

    OK Rudy, now give me one example of you moving ANY business from Windows to *nix or any example of people taking your advice to use antiquated computers with a NEW antiquated OS.

    Just one....

    Or is this all just virtual - including your consultancy.

    • Antiquated OS?

      Watch the videos, read some more at

      You might change your view(s).
  • Check this out OpenSolaris cloud service
    • Very nice!

      Thanks for posting that - I didn't know about it.
  • RE: The deed is done: now are you better off?

    the Cool Threads servers are slooooow they can do a lot slowly!