OSBC: Sun seeks to woo HP to Solaris

Microsoft exec touts "coopetition"

Sun Microsystems is trying to persuade Hewlett-Packard to move its HP-UX Unix customers over to Sun's Solaris, Sun President/COO Jonathan Schwartz said at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

But HP is not interested, an HP representative said.

During his presentation at the conference and in a subsequent interview, Schwartz said Sun has proposed merging the road maps of HP-UX and Solaris.

"We'll see if we can make progress there," Schwartz said.

Solaris 10 has been downloaded 4 million times in the past year, according to Sun. This is more licenses than HP has shipped with HP-UX in the entire history of HP's Unix OS, said Schwartz. If HP accepts Sun's offer, then HP-UX customers would be migrated over to Solaris, Schwartz said.

"I think HP-UX customers are feeling a little abandoned right now" without a Unix platform to run on x64-based systems, he said. "We obviously have the highest volume Unix in the x64 world and that presents a unique opportunity for HP to give HP-UX customers a path forward and not a path backward into Itanium."

"We'd figure out a way to give HP-UX customers the migration support they need to move on to Solaris," Schwartz said, adding that HP "has been effectively end-of-lifed."

HP's ProLiant servers can run on Solaris, with Sun providing support. But an HP representative, in an e-mail entitled "Sun's outlandish claims," disputed Schwartz's contentions.

HP-UX is "far from dead, contrary to Sun's enterprise business, which continues to lose money as companies such as HP and IBM steal their customers and erode their dying market share," said an HP representative.

Sun last month reported a quarterly loss of $223 million although revenue was up.

The HP representative cited a Web page that portends to show the vitality of HP-UX today and going forward.

Also at OSBC, Schwartz announced that the GNU General Public License (GPL) would apply to the open sourcing of Sun's UltraSPARC T1 chip.

"Open source is not just about software. It's also going to be about hardware, and we're going to be the company that's driving it," Schwartz said.

Schwartz also invited Oracle to use Sun's Project GlassFish application server rather than spend a reported $400 million to buy JBoss. Industry reports in the past week have Oracle set to buy JBoss for that amount, although no deal has been announced.

"The fastest growing open source application server in the marketplace is called GlassFish," Schwartz said.

Schwartz also said that the Sun-driven NetBeans open source platform has had more downloads of late than the higher profile Eclipse platform, based on industry research. "It's now eclipsed Eclipse," Schwartz said.

During his presentation, Schwartz touched on the theme of citizen participation in IT. "The big wave in the marketplace to me is citizens getting involved in technology, individuals getting involved in technology decisions," Schwartz said. The most popular products will be free, regardless of whether or not they are open source, he said.

Developers, Schwartz said, are increasingly moving to free products because they do not have to go through their procurement departments to get them.

Following Schwartz's presentation, Microsoft's Bill Hilf, director of the vendor's Platform Technology Strategy organization, focused on the concept of "coopetition," through which competitors can share a common business interest.

"It’s the idea of cooperating and competing often in the same breath with the same people," Hilf said.

Microsoft certainly has not been a major proponent of open source. But Hilf pointed out that Microsoft can benefit from it just the same. Open source companies JBoss and SugarCRM have partnered with Microsoft, as have more traditional vendors such as Sun and IBM, Hilf noted.

SugarCRM, for example, will offer a version of its CRM package on Windows via Microsoft's Shared Source license, which allows some access to source code.

Microsoft, however, is conscious that new business models in computing may not generate as much as older models, Hilf said. Product differentiation still is key and making money matters, he said.

"I don’t believe selling tech support phone calls is a model [that is] sustainable," said Hilf. "You must differentiate in your product to sustain growth."

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