Solaris in the Cross Hairs

HP and IBM will use LinuxWorld to woo Sun customers with Linux migration pushes.

As the Linux community gathers in San Francisco this week for the LinuxWorld conference, two of the industrys largest companies will use the show to put the squeeze on Sun Microsystems Inc.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM are each planning to roll out aggressive product and marketing programs designed to lure Solaris customers from Sun to their respective Linux offerings.

HP will announce its Software Porting Express Service, while IBM will roll out its Solaris-to-Linux program. Both take aim at Sun customers running Solaris on SPARC that may be considering less expensive and less proprietary platforms.

"We are significantly expanding our capabilities and staffing in that area and will be deploying a SWAT team of several hundred Linux migration experts," said John Sarsgard, vice president of Linux Solutions for IBM, in Somers, N.Y. "They will work closely with our sales teams [and] be able to quickly prepare an assessment of a customers IT infrastructure and develop a comprehensive blueprint for transitioning to Linux."

Linux distributors say the moves by HP and IBM are a sign that Linux is a serious enterprise platform. "Sun is the most vulnerable player here, as Solaris/SPARC is completely proprietary and very expensive," said Mark de Visser, a vice president at Red Hat Inc., in Raleigh, N.C. "They are the sitting duck, and the industry is taking aim."

One Sun customer considering such a move is QualTel Inc., a Portland Ore., telecommunications software and services company. Chief Technology Officer John Pucknell said the company has already ported its software from Solaris to Linux and is testing on IBM X330 systems that are Network Equipment Building Systems-compliant.

QualTel, whose primary customer base is in Asia, plans to consolidate its more than 500 Sun Netra servers to IBM X330 servers once testing is complete. "So far, running Linux on IBM X330s is working just fine. Our customers are looking for value, reliability and want to reduce their rack space. This solution offers that," Pucknell said.

As part of its attack against Sun, IBM will announce the eServer X335, a 1U (1.75-inch) rack-optimized server designed for Web serving.

This two-way server runs Linux and Windows and "will appeal to customers with distributed applications but more so to the Linux cluster market, where people are building Linux clusters with more than a thousand nodes," IBMs Sarsgard said.

IBM will also introduce an integrated and validated Linux cluster offering, known as the IBM eServer Cluster 1350, which is based on the eServer X335 and X345 and includes storage, third-party networking and cluster management software.