Both IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. have been targeting Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris customers with migration plans designed to lure them to Linux.
Under this latest initiative, IBMs Systems & Technology Group will do the free migration assessment to Linux on IBM eServer xSeries, BladeCenter, iSeries, pSeries, OpenPower and zSeries platforms, letting customers look at their options without making a large up-front investment, Scott Handy, the vice president of worldwide Linux for IBM in Somers, N.Y., told eWEEK.com on Monday.
The team will also answer customer migration questions, respond to their concerns and determine what the right strategy is for a move to Linux, he said.
IBM also set up what is known as the IBM Migration Factory after it bought Sector7 in 2003, a company which did "any-to-any" migrations.
"We then set them up to have an any-to-IBM migration strategy. They also had tools that automated the migration from Solaris customers Solaris to Linux," Handy said.
While the Factory did 500 Solaris migrations last year, most of them were to IBMs own Unix-based AIX operating system.
On investigation as to why this was the case, Handy said it was largely due to the fact that the AIX team offered a free assessment of such a migration.
"So we are now throwing a pre-funded Solaris-to-Linux assessment into this mix and making it real easy for customers to sign up for this on the Web," Handy said.
Once the assessment is completed and the customers decide they want to continue with the migration, for-fee IBM Migration Factory services kick in and include help with customer migration from Solaris C/C++ environments to Linux as well migrating Oracle databases from non-IBM Windows and Unix platforms to Red Hat and Novell SuSE Linux on IBM platforms.
As applications still remained a key driver, which was evidenced in interviews with 23 of the top Wall Street companies last year, where Big Blue identified a total of 24 ISVs and 58 applications most critical to target for Solaris to Linux porting, IBM convinced all but two to port their applications to Linux.
"Twenty-two of these financial-services ISVs have committed to porting 48 Solaris applications to Linux on IBMs eServer platform since last year, 33 of which are available today," Handy said.
Big Blue also recently introduced the IBM eServer Application Advantage for Linux, also known as Chiphopper, which combines support and testing tools that are helping to deliver on the promise of a cross-platform Linux solution for ISVs.
Since its introduction, Chiphopper has resulted in more than 100 new applications being available on IBM eServers running Linux, Handy said.
Paul Cormier, executive vice president of engineering at Red Hat, said that enterprise migration from Solaris to Linux is inevitable.
"Working with IBM, we will make the transition from Solaris to Red Hat Enterprise Linux as efficient and easy as possible. The Chiphopper and Migration Factory programs offer clear concise plans to both customers and ISVs to make the move," he said.
IBM had also looked at all the sales engagements it had held around Linux over the past five years and that number currently stood at around 12,000, with 3,200 of these being for customers moving from Solaris to Linux, Handy said.
"While we were not involved in the migration of all of these—in fact the customer did the migration themselves in a lot of cases—we were involved in selling them Linux solutions on the other side of that," he said.
Handy also then wanted to see how much Solaris had moved to Linux over the past five years.
Data from research firm Gartner showed that sales of Solaris server stood at $10.1 billion in 2000, falling to $6 billion last year—a loss of $4 billion.
Unix-based server sales at Hewlett-Packard went from $5.3 billion in 2000 to $4.2 billion last year, while sales of IBMs Unix-based AIX operating system were flat over the same period, "which means in a slightly declining market we gained nine points of revenue share," Handy said.
Over the same time period, Linux server sales soared from $500,000 to $4.9 billion, and that rise came predominantly on the back of Solaris, with 80 percent of the migrations off Unix coming from Solaris, he said.
"So that is why we continue to target this program at Solaris. All the data shows that the customer movement in the purchasing of servers has migrated to Linux. The data shows that the peak of Suns Solaris server sales was in 2000, which was followed by 12 quarters of decline. So those servers bought in 2000 are now 4 years old, and so we are starting to see a lot more migration. That, thus, has a lot to do with the timing of this," Handy said.
Asked why IBM was working specifically with Red Hat on this migration initiative and not also with Novells SuSE Linux, Handy said this was because Sun executives such as chief operating officer and president Jonathan Schwartz had specifically targeted Red Hat, saying publicly that they were not against Linux but rather against Red Hat, whose Linux offering was proprietary, Handy said.
"We have been doing a lot of talking and making sales and customer calls and working together, and were finding there is still big momentum on the Solaris-to-Linux migration front," he said, adding that this specific alliance with Red Hat did not diminish IBMs relationship with Novells SuSE Linux and that IBM continues to support any Solaris migration to Novells SuSE Linux, IBMs AIX operating system, Red Hat software or Microsofts Windows.
This latest Solaris-to-Linux initiative applies to both SMB and enterprise customers.
Part of that outreach plan involves some of IBMs business partners and includes giving them a half-day class, scripts they can talk to, mailing templates and how to actually do a Solaris-to-Linux migration, Handy said.
Asked by eWEEK.com if there would be more Solaris migration program updates, Handy said that was possible as both him and his team were always talking to customers and looking for new ways to help them migrate.