Hot skills: Java and .net support sees HP-UX used across all vertical markets

HP-UX has features that top-end enterprises look for

What is it?

HP-UX is Hewlett-Packard's version of the Unix server operating system.

HP, Sun and IBM have 70% of the Unix market between them and, according to analyst firm IDC, HP-UX led the market for high-end enterprise Unix in 2005. Sun, with open source Solaris and the ability to run on HP's Proliant platforms (which cannot run HP-UX) is nipping at HP's heels.

Many HP users are being forced to migrate from discontinued PA-Risc-based systems in favour of Intel Itanium-based Integrity servers. Users of Tru64 Unix are also supposed to migrate to HP-UX on Integrity.

A survey by IDC found that 13% of HP-UX users were not aware of Itanium, and 29% were unaware that PA-Risc was being phased out. But IDC still rates HP-UX as highly competitive, especially at the top end, and as a mainframe replacement.

Where did it originate?

HP launched HP-UX in 1986, when mid-range system suppliers were moving away from proprietary operating systems to Unix.

What is it for?

HP-UX supports the high availability, provisioning and workload management that top-end enterprise users look for. Like other Unix implementations, it is highly scalable, though in HP's case less competitive on smaller processors.

Through successive releases, HP has made HP-UX for PA-Risc and Integrity functionally equivalent, and now claims applications can be migrated unchanged.

What makes it special?

HP-UX can co-exist on Integrity processors with Windows and Linux. It supports both the Java and .net development and deployment models. HP has used partnerships with BEA and Veritas to deliver technology earlier than promised in its HP-UX roadmap. As well as Veritas storage management and clustering, it also draws from its own Openview for systems and network management. During 2005, it provided enhanced virtualisation, security and identity management.

HP claims the highest number of high availability and "disaster-tolerant" installations of any manufacturer, largely thanks to its Serviceguard clustering products.

How difficult is it to master?

HP offers five-day courses for those new to Unix and for those moving to HP-UX from Tru65, Solaris, IBM's Aix or Linux. Prices are top of the range, although there is a pay-as-you-go option for online training.

Where is it used?

HP claims more than 1.7 million HP-UX installations. IDC said it is used across all vertical markets, and HP quotes other analysts to support its claim to be number one in datawarehousing and decision support. According to analyst firm Winter Corporation, 40% of the world's largest Unix datawarehouses run on HP-UX 11i.

What systems does it run on?

Although sales of Integrity and Itanium in general have been disappointing, major software suppliers are committed to it. MySAP runs on Integrity under HP-UX, and Oracle has promised its E-Business 12i Suite for later this year.

What is coming up?

HP is ahead of its own road map, delivering in 2005 capabilities which were not due until later this year.


HP offers a range of HP-UX training courses, catering for beginners through to systems administrators. Sierra also offers a similar range of courses, including programming courses.

Rates of pay

Unix professionals start on £38,000, rising to £44,000 with experience.

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