"We will give the hardware free, however much is required" to run the application, says Ron Bartels from HP's mainframe replacement program. "We will give the software free for the first year. In effect, we're taking away the initial capital application cost."
Customers have to pay HP partner Logica to move the mainframe application to a BladeSystem, and have to pick up the hardware and software maintenance costs. But customers get to keep the mainframe and use the freed-up capacity for other purposes, Bartels says.
That's in contrast to a similar IBM program that offers rebates to Unix customers who are willing to junk their HP PA-RISC systems and replace them with IBM Unix servers. IBM requires customers to hand over their old HP systems in order to qualify for the rebate.
Eunice would be surprised if many people take HP up on the offer. Getting rid of a perfectly good mainframe application would be like an airline junking an Airbus because Boeing offered a free 777, he says.
The airline would say "we have pilots trained on this, it's still a relatively new plane. Why would we junk that?" Eunice reasons.
Similarly, "you don't junk those applications [running on mainframes]. You don't junk those business systems. I think that's all marketing bravado. It is competitive with the mainframe, but the replacement thing is juvenile."
HP counters that customers have specifically asked for a blade server system that can replace their mainframes.
"People have come and said 'I'd like to be able to move things off the mainframe and get them onto a more flexible environment,'" according to Meyer.