Sun Microsystems is readying a new customer migration program aimed at enticing users of HP's 64-bit Tru64 Unix operating system on the Alpha microprocessor to Sun's UltraSPARC processor and Solaris operating system.
The HP Away program, to be launched on July 21, was "designed to aggressively take market share from a key competitor while also offering customers a more dependable solution," according to a statement from Sun.
The program will target 400,000 Alpha customers, Sun said. It did not say whether it would also target Alpha users running other operating systems such as HP's Open VMS or the Alpha version of Microsoft's Windows NT.
This is not Sun's first foray into competitive migration programs.
Last year, it launched its similarly titled Blue-Away program aimed at bringing IBM's mainframe and NUMA-Q users over to Solaris.
IBM, in turn, responded with a customer migration program of its own, aimed at Solaris users. These kinds of customer poaching programs could pay for themselves if they yielded one or two major accounts, an analyst with industry research firm Illuminata, Gordon Haff, said.
"None of these programs were enormously successful," Haff said. "It's always tough to displace an installed system. You're really talking about nibbling the margins. Unless a company is really in free fall and has abandoned major product lines, it's hard for someone else to get more than a scattered win here and there."
HP's final generation of the Alpha processor, the EV79, will be introduced next year, according to HP's director of marketing for business critical systems, Don Jenkins. The company will continue to sell Alpha systems through 2006, and will support Alpha and its Tru64 Unix operating system until 2011, but it is working with customers, via its Alpha Retain Trust Program, to help them migrate to Windows, Linux, and HP-UX system that use the Itanium processor, he said.
Alpha customers, particularly those running Tru64, would be well advised to at least consider Sun's plan, Haff said.
"If they have to move to a different operating system and a different processor anyway, there's very little reason for them not to be looking at other vendors."