On March 1, McNealy published an open letter offering to work with HP to converge HP-UX with Solaris 10. McNealy argued that the move would be beneficial because Sun's support for Unix on x86/x64 servers would allow HP-UX customers to continue running Unix on HP's x86/x64 ProLiant servers -- which currently don't support HP-UX, rather than migrate to HP's Itanium-based Integrity servers.
But the offer was written off as a publicity stunt, according to HP executives, who said it coincided with a joint HP, Oracle and Intel deal that would lead to Oracle software being optimised for HP Integrity servers.
"We have no intention of doing that," said Richard Marcello, HP's senior vice president and general manager of business critical servers. "I think we're really clear that that's almost a laughable offer, especially in light of what Sun has been doing market share wise and where they're at in the marketplace now."
This is unsurprising because as a member of Intel's Itanium Solutions Alliance, HP has touted the ability to run any OS on its Integrity servers and competes against architectures from Sun and IBM.
Last year, HP set an end-of-life timeline for its PA-RISC processor of between 2011 and 2012.
According to HP, its aim is to make the migration from PA-RISC systems -- which can only run Unix -- to the Itanium architecture as smooth as possible, according to Marcello.
"We have a pretty good transition program with our HP-UX PA-RISC customers [to] HP-UX Integrity ... I have a team of about 100 dedicated resources that do nothing but help with free transition services, free architectural workshops.
"We have very good business practices in terms of trade-in policies, in terms of putting side by side systems, so you can try out an Integrity box while you still have your PA box," said Marcello.
Peter Hall, vice president and general manager of business critical servers in HP's technology solutions group in APAC, claimed that in some cases upgrading from the PA-RISC architecture to Itanium could be as simple as swapping the chip.
He described the experience of an Indian car parts manufacturer -- Sundaram-Clayton Limited -- that had recently migrated: "They had the PA-RISC system, they were running SAP, [and] they literally unplugged the disk drive from their PA-RISC system, plugged it into the Integrity system and kept going. The transition was that easy."
"The upgrade path for many for our customers in many cases is as simple as changing the processor inside their system," added Hall.
In Australia, HP Integrity customers include Vodafone, Telstra, Metcash and Standards Australia.
Steven Deare travelled to Macau as a guest of HP.