The tighter relationship between computer maker Hewlett-Packard and software supplier BEA Systems is beginning to show results, as BEA reveals the share of software deployed on hardware sold by HP has jumped by 31%.
The gains appear have been made principally at the expense of HP's competitor, Sun Microsystems, whose Solaris operating system on Sun server hardware has long been the dominant platform for BEA's middleware products.
After spending $470m on the acquisition of middleware company Bluestone Software in 2001, HP last year decided to kill off its Bluestone products and partner instead with BEA, whose Weblogic application server has been highly successful in the middleware space.
In its first financial quarter of 2003 - the three-month period which ended on 30 April 2002 - 71% of all the software BEA sold was deployed on Sun hardware, predominantly running the Solaris operating system, according to Mercedes Ellison, BEA's senior vice-president of alliances marketing. That number dropped to 40% in BEA's most recent quarter, which ended July this year.
The percentage of BEA software deployed on HP systems jumped from 5% to 36% during the same period.
Because the numbers refer only to new deployments, a large majority of BEA's customers still buy Sun products, said Ellison, but HP and BEA's relationship has become closer over the past year and that is making BEA less dependent upon Sun.
"Sun is still number one from a share perspective, but HP is catching up fast," she said.
Approximately 60% of BEA deployments on HP hardware were on the HP-UX operating system, with Linux and Windows accounting for 30% and 10%, respectively, said Lane Nonnenberg, the vice-president and general manager of HP services alliances.
HP's sells BEA's products, which are now supported by more than 300 HP service employees. The companies co-operate in joint marketing and sales engagements, and HP's HP-UX Unix operating system was made a tier-one platform for BEA products last quarter, said Gartner vice-president, Yesim Natis.
The HP-BEA relationship could become even closer, spurred on by competitive pressures from IBM and Sun, Natis said
"There is a distinct possibility that in the next two years HP will be acquiring BEA," he said. "I do not believe that the new HP - with Compaq - is satisfied with not being in the platform competition. All of their competitors are in it," he said. "So they're going to want to be in it again."
Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service