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IBM Businesses HP Sun Microsystems Supercomputing

IBM & Sun Agreement Puts Pressure on HP 182

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the things-heating-up dept.
eldavojohn writes "IBM has turned to long time rival Sun in an effort to bring Solaris to its mainframes. Sun may be taking this chance to drop out of the server market while at the same time capture Solaris subscriptions via IBM sales. Either way, this certainly pressures HP in the server department."
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IBM & Sun Agreement Puts Pressure on HP

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  • by jcgf (688310) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:24PM (#20255467)
    Sun may be taking this chance to drop out of the server market while at the same time capture Solaris subscriptions via IBM sales.

    I don't know, Sun is investing quite a bit in their new niagra processors, so why would they get out of the server business?

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:35PM (#20255551) Homepage
      Nowhere in the article does it say Sun is thinking of dropping out of the server market. Rather, it mentions that Sun is tied with Dell for the #3 spot. You'd have to be an idiot to think Sun was even considering walking away now.
      • by ejito (700826) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @07:09PM (#20255807)
        They won't drop out for quite awhile, but Sun was visiting universities (including mine), and their presentations were emphasizing a shift to services. Their long term goals are for support on top of open source software (they believe in house developers will become a liability for businesses, who in turn will shift their development to large businesses like Sun).

        If IBM sells more Solaris servers, Sun wins long term software support and IBM wins hardware sales and support, and both extend their brands. Of course, having their own line of hardware keeps a steady stream of support business; but I think they'd move their hardware business over to smaller niche markets or consolidate it with a larger company in a fiscal heartbeat. Sun is looking at every way to capture more developers.
        • ...welcome our new IBM/Sun overlo-- wait a second! They've always been our overlords!
        • They are mostly a service company that also sells hardware these days. And they are doing fine. It is not surprising if Sun wants to do the same.
        • by Colin Smith (2679)
          Enterprise customers want a single vendor.

          Why?

          Admin: "There's a bug in the operating system, it's corrupting data under these circumstances"
          Sun: "Naw, not at all. The problem is in the IBM firmware. The operating system is doing the right thing".
          IBM: "WTF? no it ain't, the problem is in the operating system."

          Queue many hours of haranguing both companies.

          As opposed to:

          Admin: "There's a bug in the OS, it's corrupting data under these circumstances"

          Sun (Or IBM): "Actually the dump you sent us indicate the prob
        • Hardware makes very little in terms of profit margin, which is one reason you see large support contracts sold with high end server hardware. Services make margins that are typically ten times that of hardware sales. That is why you see more and more companies that were traditionally seen as hardware outfits getting into the services market.
    • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:32AM (#20257749) Homepage

      I don't know, Sun is investing quite a bit in their new niagra processors, so why would they get out of the server business?

      They're also investing in a new line of viagra processors, which promise longer up-time.

    • Perhaps its because Sun is already effectively out of the *big*-server market. IBM no longer considers Sun a competitor on the high-end market segment and sees only HP to compete with there. Sun appears to be trying to find a way to find another way of making the revenues they had in the past.

  • by Jim Hall (2985) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:25PM (#20255483) Homepage

    It's not really mainframes. Yes, the IBM / Sun agreement will eventually put Solaris on the IBM mainframe, but more importantly was this bit at the beginning of the article:

    The collaboration announced Thursday will enable Sun's Solaris operating system to run on IBM servers. That means customers that run Sun servers will be able to switch to Big Blue's hardware without having to rewrite any programs. / At first this will be possible on IBM's "x" series of servers, which also run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows or the open-source Linux system. But eventually IBM hopes to bring Solaris to the mainframe, the big multitasking machines that have been one of the company's core profit centers for decades.

    So you'll be able to run Solaris on IBM x-series hardware. This is a big deal. While you're unlikely to see big customers migrating their workload off the big systems (E25k, etc) to x-series, certainly you'll have customers moving smaller Solaris workloads to x-series. When you can run Solaris on IBM z-series (the mainframe) then customers can look again to move the big systems to IBM/Solaris.

    Wow, it's just so weird to write "IBM/Solaris". :-)

    • by the_humeister (922869) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:35PM (#20255553)

      Wow, it's just so weird to write "IBM/Solaris". :-)


      Make that GNU/IBM/Solaris...

      Thanks you! I'll be here all week...
    • by afidel (530433)
      I'm not sure why you would want to run Solaris on xSeries when the Sun equivalents are generally cheaper and you would only have a single vendor to point at.
      • by mjt5282 (107603)
        I know what you mean - in my old company, we had 1 problematic HP DL server running RH linux - of course, when we had problems, RH blamed HP and HP blamed the RH linux code. Of course, I had been spoiled previously because most of the Unix boxes used to be Sun Servers running Sun Solaris.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'm not sure why you would want to run Solaris on xSeries when the Sun equivalents are generally cheaper and you would only have a single vendor to point at.

        I'd be a lot more interested in seeing Solaris on the P or I series servers. I wonder if that's in the works? Is Sun/IBM considering supporting Solaris on Power? Or perhaps Sun is considering transitioning to the Power architecture? It'd make sense - continuing to develop Sparc is a drain on Sun's resources, and IBM is itching to get Power (and it's der
    • Ahem . . . (Score:3, Funny)

      by hawk (1151)
      That should be GNU/IBM/Solaris, thank you. :)

      hawk, whistling innocently
    • by fm6 (162816)
      I don't see anything in the article about porting Solaris to the z-series. Which is hardly surprising: porting Solaris to a new architecture would be a huge amount of work, and it's difficult to see how anybody could sell enough extra systems or support contracts to make it pay.

      On the other hand, Sun is already putting a lot of work into the x64 version of Solaris, because AMD-based systems is pretty much their best profit center. And the Sun/Intel deal only strengthens that. So it's not that much extra wor
    • by MaggieL (10193)
      Wow, it's just so weird to write "IBM/Solaris"

      No wierder than it was to write "IBM/Novell" back in the day of things like "NetWare for SAA"...
    • by SEE (7681)

      Wow, it's just so weird to write "IBM/Solaris"

      Well, I've been expecting some form of Solaris on IBM ever since OpenSolaris came out, whether or not Sun was willing to cut a deal with IBM. How much can a Sun x86 Solaris box do that an IBM/OpenSolaris x86 box couldn't? How many Solaris-running SPARCs could be replaced with IBM/OpenSolaris POWER machines (either p or i series), if the price were right? The POWER/PowerPC OpenSolaris porting projects were going to (eventually) make IBM able to compete in Solaris shops that wouldn't dream of going Linux

    • When I read about this yesterday, as well as expecting a port to Power6, which isn't unlikely, I was wondering if Sun would be offering Solaris as a zOS virtual machine. zSolaris - now, that *is* weird.
  • HP is getting to (or already has arrived) the point where their server support is laughably awful. Pair that with this recent announcement from IBM, and it could be interpreted as death knell for the Proliant line.
    • by afidel (530433) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:55PM (#20255701)
      Hahahaha, HP makes the best x86/x64 servers on the market right now. iLo, quickstart, foundation pack, etc all make HP's way easier to manage then the competition. Not only that but 6Hr call to repair is impossible to beat in the x86 world. The only thing that's slightly lacking is first and second level support, but I almost never need them and as soon as they start wasting my time I ask for the duty manager so I can get an SME on the phone.
      • wow. i hope hp is paying you for your plug.

        side note: having used hp as well, i know from using sun/ibm, they also make very decent x86 servers. or you can build your own with barebones tyan boxen. and you can fix it yourself in less than 2 hours (or atleast the team bitch can (teh n00b) ;)

        • by cow ninja (306125)
          How are you going to get iLo with a tyan box? Or fit 4 hotswap sas drive on a 1U with HP's great smartarray card? (http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/prolia ntdl360/index-g4p-sas.html)

          It sounds like you have never been an admin in a true 24/7 shop where uptime and space are critical.
      • by Itninja (937614)
        I agree that HP makes great servers...my issue is with their support. I provide tier II support for 250 servers in my state. I have to call HP often for hardware support, and it take a freakin' act of Congress to have damn replacement RAM stick sent out.
        • It seems to vary per support area. I know that in Australia, HP's support is shit. In London, they can be pretty OK. Not as good as Sun, but quite tolerable.

          Most annoying HP experience: three-way blamestorm with Red Hat over who supports bonding network connections on a DL580. Red Hat I expect to be shit at service (Red Hat licenses are things you buy to pacify PHBs and Oracle), but I woulda loved to been proven wrong. HP I was thoroughly disappointed by.
        • by afidel (530433)
          Last time I called HP for a replacement part (earlier this week) the conversation went like this:
          Them:Contact info please
          Me:{contact info}
          Them:Is this a new or existing case?
          Me:new
          Them:Serial number
          Me:{serial number}
          Them:What is the issue?
          Me:I have a failed DIMM indicated by a trouble light and system management homepage
          Them:Have you tried moving the DIMM around to confirm it is the particular piece of ram?
          Me:No, I cannot. It's a production server and I have a limited dowtime window.
          Them:Ok, would you like
  • by Bryan-10021 (223345) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:30PM (#20255513)
    ``As many are already aware, we embarked upon a journey a couple years ago to formally separate the Solaris operating system from Sun's hardware business - as well as bring Solaris to the free and open source software world via a community effort named OpenSolaris [opensolaris.org]. None of these changes were easy, but I'd like to believe both were successful. What's my proof?`` Read the rest in Sun CEO's blog. [sun.com]
  • by d3xt3r (527989) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:52PM (#20255675)

    I don't buy the idea that Sun is looking to bail out of the hardware business. What they are looking to do is keep Solaris relevant. Sun doesn't want you to think Solaris requires Sun hardware. Sun realized that the only option for people wanting to go with x86/x86_64 chips and run a Unix-like OS on supported hardware meant running Linux or buying Sun gear.

    Sun is looking to eat some of Linux's lunch. The question is, why is IBM interested?

    • by AxXium (964226)
      I agree on the looking to keep Solaris relevant part. There are many reasonable and attractive alternatives out there.
    • by astrashe (7452)
      I think that this makes sense for IBM too -- IBM wants to do a little bit of everything, and to have access to customers with all kinds of different shops.

      This deal gives IBM access to companies that are currently centered on Sun, and Sun is still pretty big.

    • by pavon (30274)

      The question is, why is IBM interested?

      That is obvious - they want Sun's customers. IBM doesn't make any money off of operating systems, they make money off of hardware and support contracts, which is why they have been so supportive of linux. Using an open source operating system decreases their development costs, but more importantly make it easier for people to migrate to their hardware. No one starts off using IBM anymore. They start small with individual servers, then move up to clusters, and when that starts getting out of hand they migra

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The question is, why is IBM interested?

      They want the financial services market. Really. Major financials I've been in (yes, they're household names) run one of the following:

      • Linux
      • Solaris
      • Windows

      That's probably the list of servers, in order of decreasing market share. In some of the larger ones, Solaris (both on SPARC and x86) win over Linux, while others have bigger Linux installations. What I haven't seen have been HP/UX. I've seen one financial use AIX boxes, and that was over ten years ago now.

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      Sun is looking to eat some of Linux's lunch. The question is, why is IBM interested?
      Unlike Sun, I see a lot of development activity on lkml coming from *@*ibm.com email addresses mainly aimed at the big iron. My best guess would be that Linux isn't quite up to snuff there yet. They certainly are not walking away.

      Disclaimer:
      IANALKD, but it sure looks like IBM is pouring a lot of development effort into (big iron) Linux.
    • Same reason why they are interested in Linux, Java etc.

      The more choices the customer gets the more IBM consultants/services/support the customer is likely to want/need.
    • The question is, why is IBM interested?

      The Register [theregister.co.uk] suggests IBM is just trying to keep their customers happy.

      " IBM's move appears to confirm that there is strong demand for the OS among corporate customers. It's hard to imagine IBM agreeing to this arrangement without customers applying serious pressure."

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @07:12PM (#20255827) Homepage Journal
    If Sun had bought Apple any of the many times it's been rumored the past decade or more, then IBM mainframes might be running OSX right now.

    OTOH, if IBM had bought Apple any of the many times it's been rumored the past decade or more, then Sun might be going out of business right now, without this IBM contract keeping them in business.
    • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @07:48PM (#20256093)
      If sun had bought Apple, z-frames would have the iPod slot (and come with an optional matching white color).
    • by perlchild (582235)
      The former:
      more like xserves would have no choice but to run Solaris...
      With Apple Interface Guis so slick you can skate on them

      The Latter:
      You'd be hearing about FreeOSX, a competitor to Linux, bsd-derived, anytime soon...
    • by kaffiene (38781)
      Bullshit. Sun has a lot of cash and they were making money prior to this announcement. This, only a year down the track from the change at CEO and change in direction.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        You know, I'd be interested in discussing this with you, if you weren't such an asshole to lead off your disagreement with the uncalled for "bullshit".

        Fuck you.
        • by kaffiene (38781)
          "Sun might be going out of business right now" is pure FUD

          If you spread FUD, you get what you deserve.
  • Doesn't add up (Score:1, Insightful)

    by evilviper (135110)

    IBM has turned to long time rival Sun in an effort to bring Solaris to its mainframes.

    Yes, if you want Solaris, Sun would be the company to talk to. The fact that they WANT Solaris to run on their machines (not yet mainframes) is the news here, since they've been fierce competitors for decades.

    Sun may be taking this chance to drop out of the server market while at the same time capture Solaris subscriptions via IBM sales.

    That doesn't sound too likely, with open sourcing the core of Solaris a while back, as

  • by m2943 (1140797) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @07:48PM (#20256089)
    Why doesn't IBM just buy Sun? They'd get control of Java and Solaris, they could kill the Sun/Microsoft dealings, and they'd get Sun's server customers. Granted, at 16B, Sun is probably still somewhat overvalued, but I think such a deal would be good for IBM overall.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stevesliva (648202)
      I think that Sun may finally not be overpriced. It's forward P/E is similar to IBM's. I guess it depends on how correct the analysts are about Sun's prospects next year.

      I've often wondered if IBM would just up and buy Sun, but there's a few reasons I think it would be a poor acquisition. First of all, the past five years or so have proven that the remaining Sun customers will not jump ship just because Sun's not building the fastest or cheapest unix boxes. These customers stick around because, for som
      • by SL Baur (19540)

        These customers stick around because, for some reason, they like Sun.

        Sun stuff Just Works and it has for a *long* time. I've been around Sun in the workplace since the mid '80s. Except for their desktop stuff which used to be first class [the Postscript interface was a cool idea, but X was available by then and abandoning SunView was a disaster, and I won't talk about the Titanic, I mean CDE], everything else has been slowly improved.

        At work I currently have a choice between Solaris, RHEL and Microsoft Windows XP as my primary workstation O/S. I'm using Solaris because a

        • by ckaminski (82854)
          I've run my laptop running XP SP2 for three months back and forth to work, to Starbucks, to the backyard, wireless bluetooth (IBM T42) before I finally had to reboot to fix some fubar'd display problems.

          I'm terrified to move to Vista. Microsoft finally has invented a decent consumer OS platform in XP, and I'm happy here.

          Then again, I can't keep Battlefield 2142 from rebooting my computer every 3-90 minutes.
      • I'm a Solaris admin for a living. We stick with it because:

        * Solaris is good and stable. Userland is horrible, but no-one uses that.
        * Solaris is UTTERLY PREDICTABLE and BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE. No sudden changes. If your old SunOS 4 binaries stop working, that's a reportable bug.
        * Sun hardware is pretty good.
        * Sun support is pretty good. This last is a big one.

        Linux is fine, you know. And Solaris 10 feels like a sorta weird GNU/Solaris. If they can pull that off for Solaris 11 without losing their backward com
  • by georgewilliamherbert (211790) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @07:56PM (#20256153)
    In the 90s, there was a PowerPC port of Solaris 2.x. IBM has wanted to get out of the AIX business for decades. Sun had the chance to walk in and take over the UNIX market in pretty much one fell swoop, and walked away from it for percieved strategy benefits at the time.

    IBM still wants to walk away from AIX... hence the Linux support. But I think they realize that there are businesses who are queasy about high end enterprise Linux who will jump all over Solaris, and it's essentially just having to agree to a marketing project now so it's free for everyone...

    Sun doesn't want out of the server market. The server market keeps Sun's employees happy and well paid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wytcld (179112)
      The curious question here is to what degree IBM and Sun have embraced not just their own alliances with the FOSS world, but accepted the underlying business philosophy of plenty. The more computers can do, the more the sales of computers and services. The more the software is simply available, ubiquitous even, the more uses will be found for computers, faster. The more the software can be recombined, the more synergies between computers and business methods will be developed. The richer the possible permuta
  • Sun was a hardware innovator. What happened? I would like to see come back with some new innovative
    hardware. Gee... I learned Unix on a Sparc 2 pizza box. I got to play with Sun E4000 machines,
    and later Sunfire servers. I'd like to see Sun Get back into the game.
    • by mjt5282 (107603) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:29PM (#20256679) Homepage
      Are you kidding me? Sun has just announced the T2 (Niagara 2) processor - 64 concurrent threads. High speed 10G networking. Built-in encryption support for apache. Sun is still in the "game" - its just that the "game" has changed and Sun can no longer make money selling $1M USD refrigerator-sized servers. Hopefully, Sun can make money by selling the most technologically advanced sub $20K servers that are optimized for scalability, throughput and middleware (Databases, web, infra etc).
  • All that is certain from this article is that IBM is going to certify its xSeries (x86) boxes to run Solaris x86. Big deal. They already do...this is just saying that it'll be supported. Now, if IBM announced that Solaris will run on Power6 and they're dropping AIX, then you'd have some news. Jonathan Schwartz rather fatuously states "To me, this is a tectonic shift in the marketplace" - give me a break.
    • There's an article at the Register [theregister.co.uk] about this. It says that Sun may be looking to port Solaris to Power, but doesn't go into any detail.

      There's already a sub-project in OpenSolaris to port it to PPC, but from what I've seen, Sun isn't putting too much weight behind it. This deal might change that.
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:31PM (#20256383)
    Let's talk enemies:

    Sun has x686 Solaris ports, and IBM's still heavily invested in Inel and AMD hardware, as well as their own Power and Cell CPUs. and SUSE (Microsoft's new best friend) has ports on IBM iron, ranging from tiny stuff up to S390) which I'm sure Sun is jealous of.

    IBM, now that SCOx has essentially been wiped from the screen, wants more business, and they don't make that much from Windows stuff. They sell IRON and SERVICES. They stopped operating systems at OS/2 and decided to let others do it. Fine.

    IBM has service revenues and gets into a lot of NOCs. They like Linux, 'cause it's all value (read $$) add. They understand iron, they understand services.

    The multi-core UltraSparcs are an engineering marvel.... and they're selling like old mortgage debt on Wall Street right now. That silly Linux stuff is pumping it out. Call it a toy if you want, but a bullet is a bullet and if you don't need howitzers, bullets are fine. Add in VMWare, Xen, or whatever, and you have a loaded gun with several rounds in it. That's where servers are going right now: virtual.... and Solaris containers aren't so wonderful.

    Microsoft is getting bitten at the ankles by just about everyone. Let's count the ways: uh oh, SCOx will soon run out of money and will stop biting the ankles of IBM and Novell. Pity. Adobe wants to bring an office suite to market. Google hires Sun's StarOffice to be in their bundle. Several companies, weakly but in a virgin kind of way, start selling desktop Linux of various flavors. Microsoft co-opts Ubuntu and makes a slave of Xandros. How silly.

    Add to the cake Steve Jobs stealing thunder wherever he can seed clouds. Salt it up with rotten DRM in Vista, and an underwhelming adoption when your server sales are cannibalized by your own inability to ship Windows 2008/Longhorn server.

    As Vonnegut might say, Microsoft is feeling the breeze that occurs when the excrement hits the airconditioning. Schwartz is still upwind of that.
  • Sun may be taking this chance to drop out of the server markett
    Not likely! In a recent blog entry [sun.com], Sun was crowing about sales of their CoolThreads servers: "$550 Million in sales and a 225% growth rate - year over year." While that's only about 4% of their revenue, that growth rate is going to be hard to walk away from.
  • What's in it for IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daishiman (698845) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:12PM (#20256957)

    Disclaimer: I work for IBM.

    IBM is becoming primarily a services company, doing systems development, "solutions architecture", and outsourced operations. A LOT of people at IBM are familiar with Sun technology and have used it at one point or another. Heck, most of the Global Services staff that maintain AIX servers also maintain Solaris servers. How hard do you think it would be for IBM to expand their business saying "Sure, we support Solaris. We can build that payroll system that you need for your company on your existing Sun infrastructure. BTW, can we interest you in a new pSeries for these workloads?".

    Indeed, this is opening up a new area of the market where they can now claim expertise and recognition. And when the installed customer base is satisfied with what they have, it'll be 10 times easier to migrate their hardware to IBM stuff, and software to IBM proprietary OSes, if there's more profit to be made there.

  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:59PM (#20257269)
    They have too many new technologies in active development for them to drop out of the server market. Their new Sparc processors, and motherboard chipsets truly have major advantages over current Intel offerings. The new T2 processors in a 4 or 8 CPU system can and will stomp over anything out of Wintell (64 threads per CPU, time 8 CPU's makes 512 ACTIVE processes at a time in a single box! Now imagine a beowulf or grid cluster of those! Hell, simply imagine a single rack!). No, Sun isn't leaving the server market, they are simply expanding their OS market, nothing more. Which is a good thing. The more hardware that can run Solaris, the more it will be seen by new people who may not be familiar with it. The new capabilities for self healing processes, zones (think like VMWare, but each is running a contained Solaris, without a ton of overhead from having the separate kernel instances, as well as being able to portion exact percentages of resources to each zone. This allows multiple "budgets" too pool together and buy a big(er) server then they would otherwise and have assurances that each group would get at a minimum X% of CPU time (or memory, or bandwidth, etc., etc.) on the system, where X corresponds to the percentage of the cost that the department/group/unit paid to purchase the server, and if no one else is using the system, well, you get to use all its resourses...).

    No Sun is far from leaving the server market. Very, VERY far.
  • Solaris is Open Source. That means anyone can use Solaris on their servers, desktops or whatever. Our Suns "sales guy" explained that it to me. They say "if they grow the pie, everyone's slice gets bigger" Sun is in the same possition as Apple. Either one can if they play it right double their sales by only gaining a few percent more market share. This is a very good place to be. Do you think Microsoft could double their sales? No they are "flat" now and have only one way left to go if they move off

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