As part of Sun's HP Away program users running HP RISC Unix boxes can migrate to Solaris on Advanced Micro's 64-bit Opteron platform, with Sun's assistance.
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HP Away has been running since July 2003 and started out as a program designed to help HP-UX RISC users to migrate to Sun Solaris on Sparc, a Sun-specific microprocessor based on RISC technology.
Steve Shaw, business critical systems product manager at HP Canada, said even though HP's long-term strategy for 64-bit platforms is focused around Intel's Itanium chip, this does not mean HP is abandoning its Alpha-RISC and PA-RISC boxes.
"We'll continue to sell Alpha systems until the end of 2006 with upgrades through to 2008 and then support of all those and older systems through at least 2011 and potentially longer," Shaw said.
Sun is still a big player in the Unix RISC segment. However, Greg Ambrose, research analyst at IDC Canada, said Sun is not just targeting HP-UX users but customers using IBM AIX RISC-based machines as well.
IBM's proprietary POWER processors are based on RISC technology.
"Right now there's not a lot of new growth happening in the Unix server market," he explained. As a result all players in this market are going after each other's customers and trying to gain an edge wherever they can, he added.
In Canada, the Unix RISC market was worth about $425m (£233m) in 2003, with HP snapping up 37% of the revenue, followed by Sun with 34% and IBM at 27%, Ambrose said.
The units sold tell a different story, though. Of the 15,000 RISC Unix boxes sold in Canada in 2003, 10,500 came from Sun, simply because it sells mainly low-end RISC servers in comparison with its competitors HP and IBM.
"Sun, more than IBM or HP, is primarily a RISC-Unix player," Ambrose said. "It has introduced some of the Intel stuff recently but 98% of its business is still RISC Unix, whereas HP and IBM are providing a broader platform choice to their customers. They both have Intel platforms, they're both bringing in Itanium whereas Sun is more focused on this competitive space."
"I don't really know how much interest this going to generate from its customer base or from the customers [Sun] is trying to win," he said. "Opteron is a new technology and we're seeing some penetration in the Canadian market but it's still a long way away from being an established, business-critical server platform."
Rebecca Reid writes for ITWorldCanada.com