Indeed, Jenkins said the Unix spacein software, services and hardwareis still a $6 billion to $10 billion business for HP, and accounts for 25 to 30 percent of HPs server business. He said HP has an HP-UX installed base of about 500,000. HP is in the process of standardizing its HP-UX business on its Itanium-based Integrity server line. According to the IDC numbers, revenue for Itanium servers in the first quarterthe bulk of which were sold by HPgrew 41.8 percent, to $640 million, and the analyst firm has predicted a $6.6 billion market for the servers by 2010.HP is bulking up the capacity of its Itanium systems. Click here to read more.A large portion of the $1 billion a year that HP has pledged to grow the Itanium server business is being targeted at innovation in HP-UX and building the ecosystem around the operating system, Jenkins said. The IBM and Tibco deals do just that, he said. The IBM agreement will more than triple the number of existing middleware products from Big Bluefrom such brands as WebSphere, Tivoli, Rational and Lotusthat run on HP-UX and Integrity. The expansion will take place over the next few months, Jenkins said. IBM software officials said their goal is to support as many platforms as possible to meet customer demand, and already such middleware as WebSphere Application Server, DB2 Universal Database and Tivoli Storage Manager are supported on Integrity systems running HP-UX 11i v2. "Its really a signal where [the OS] has reached in the market," Jenkins said. "Weve got a lot of customers running [IBM middleware] on HP-UX." HP is focusing on such areas as virtualization and automation in future enhancements of the operating system, Jenkins said. HP-UX 11i v2 already offers the companys Virtual Server Environment for greater system utilization, as well as high-availability and scalability features. The next version will offer greater policy-based provisioning and dynamic configuration, as well as increased availability, Jenkins said. "Its about getting to the next level of automation and virtualization," he said. Version 4 will be another step in that direction, he said, with the automation of policies and system provisioning, and virtualization with zero downtime for servers, he said. Such integrated featuresas well as the binary compatibility from one version to anotherare reasons why the Unix OS will continue to be in demand by larger businesses looking for a platform for their mission-critical applications. "They want binary compatibility, and they want everything to work together," Jenkins said. "It all works in the same way. Everything fits together, and there are no surprises. In many ways, Linux can do whatever Unix can do, but it places a lot of the burden of integrating all of that on the customers. Many of the customers are capable of doing it, but they dont want to." Illuminata analyst Haff said it will be a long time before people look to Linux for the bulk of their high-end, scale-up environments, even though Linux development is moving in that direction. And once its there, the question becomes, why take on Linuxwhich is similar in many ways to Unixwhen there already are three good Unix platforms on the market? HP, IBM and Sun are making the right moves in looking at enhancing management and virtualization in their platforms, he said. "As far as performance improvements and scalability improvements, were pretty much reaching a high level of maturity in Unix right now," Haff said. "There really isnt a demand for bigger single systems, so virtualization and simplicity of operations are absolutely the right directions for HP." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.