Nine server manufacturers, including Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu-Siemens and Unisys, and several software suppliers have formed an alliance to drive adoption of applications that run on Intel's Itanium processor.
The formation of the Itanium Solutions Group, which does not include IBM, Sun or Dell, indicates the supplier community's intention of moving IT managers towards Itanium as the core mainframe-replacement platform in the datacentre.
Itanium adoption has been beset by problems, with the chip's debut marred by delays, low initial performance and incompatibility with software for x86 processors such as Pentium and Xeon.
Then, in 2004, Intel missed Itanium shipment targets and HP abandoned its Itanium workstation. In 2005, IBM decided not to sell its own Itanium servers, and last month Dell said it would no longer sell Itanium servers.
The Itanium Solutions Group will publish a web catalogue at the end of the year with a searchable list of Itanium-certified applications for different industries.
Dominique Grelet, Novascale worldwide business manager at server supplier Bull, said, "The goal and focus of the alliance is to accelerate the availability of applications on the Itanium platform. We are providing a single point of reference for customers, developers, and software and hardware suppliers."
Allyson Klein, initiative marketing manager at Intel, said, "Expect from day one applications in different vertical sectors such as telecoms, energy, government, financial services and manufacturing, as well as management tools and operations tools."
The alliance said more than 5,000 applications are available for Itanium and more than 10 operating systems run on Itanium, including Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Datacenter (64 bit) and Enterprise Edition (64 bit), and Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise Server.
Mike Thompson, principal research analyst at Butler Group, said earlier this year that despite Itanium gathering pace, there is still choice among 64-bit datacentre processor platforms. "You can still go down the Itanium route, depending on your requirements, or look at Risc architectures such as Sun's Ultrasparc and IBM's Power processor. A clearer option is to look at 64-bit-enabled Xeon and compare it with AMD's Opteron," he said.
Alliance members include Bull, Fujitsu, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi, HP, Intel, NEC, SGI, Unisys, BEA, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell.