HP partners with Sun - Anybody remember Digital?

Hewlett-Packard and Sun will announce details of “their newly expanded partnership agreement”. Might this be a step towards a merger?

The analysts list a number of of mutual benefits for both companies, with two major elements

  • Major benefit for Sun - Cashflow
  • Major benefit for HP - Enterprise level architecture and OS technology

The older readers may remember a company with great technology that got eaten by a PC vendor.
Compaq got its hands on Digital hoping to benefit from it's technology and expertise. At the end, they didn't seem to know what to do with it until HP acquired Compaq.


Sun also has great technology and is also down on it's financial luck.
But is HP actually prepared to reap the benefit of the great technology that Sun brings?


History teaches us that HP had several shots at large enterprise and somehow managed to miss most of them:
  • HP is supporting 3 large enterprise platforms, which obviously puts a huge strain on their interoperability and compatibility design. Also, so many platforms mean that the buyers are easily confused:
    • It's own series of CPUs (PA-RISC) and Operating System (HP-UX) that is designed for large enterprise - The Superdome
    • The acquired Alpha CPU based servers with TruUnix64 or OpenVMS which are still being supported as legacy systems
    • The Integrity series with Itanium CPUs supporting several OS platforms
  • HP bet on Itanium1 and missed an entire generation when Intel delivered a chip of mediocre power and there was no major enterprise software support for it
  • HP didn't manage to develop a native middleware platform for their hardware, and relies on Sun, IBM and third party vendors to deliver such platform.
With such a track record, one needs to be worried about the realistic benefits and outcome of this partnership
In the long run, we just hope that Sun survives as independent high quality vendor for enterprise solutions.

Talkback and comments are most welcome

4 comments:

Chameleon said...

Boy, do I remember Digital. Back in the late 70s, my brother-in-law was one of DEC's first 100 employees. I was dating a freelance bug squasher who was contracted to work for Data General and whose roommate was contracted to work for Digital. I spent many midnights sitting in a carrel at one or the other company, waiting for one or the other of them to come out of their haze and catch last call! Prolly not the "remember..." you meant, though :)

Alphaman said...

Chameleon said...
Back in the late 70s, my brother-in-law was one of DEC's first 100 employees.

Uh, in order to qualify for the "first 100" club, your bil would have had to have worked for DEC in the late 50s!

But back on to the story -- a partnership does not a merger make. I think HP got burned enough touching the Compaq fire that they probably won't touch another legacy iron vendor. That's all HP would need -- a sixth (or is it seventh?) U*X-like OS to have to support! HP-UX, Tru64, NonStop, OpenVMS, Linux, and isn't there another?

I don't think a merger or "acquisition" would happen, but then again, I've been wrong before.

Bozidar Spirovski said...

Having a *NIX under platform is far from bad - as long as you have a clear vision and strategy for it. As seen before, HP made a lot of poor choices on the *NIX arena, and got stuck with a whole bunch of legacy platforms and not one current.
I just fear that in the strife for market share, HP will choose poorly once again

chameleon said...

Alphaman said...
Chameleon said...
Back in the late 70s, my brother-in-law was one of DEC's first 100 employees.

Uh, in order to qualify for the "first 100" club, your bil would have had to have worked for DEC in the late 50s!

When I met him in 1980ish, - considerably AFTER the late nights at DEC - he'd been with the company for years and was already a pretty big honcho, traveling around the country and overseas to help with setting up new plants. - I'll just fade into the woodwork now, and leave the conversation to the geekier than I ;)

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