Despite concern within some industry circles that the merger of Compaq and Digital may mean a lower level of commitment to Unix in favour of Windows NT, a senior Digital executive has said that the combined company will emerge as a formidable contender as the market shifts towards 64-bit Unix.
"Everybody talks about Unix as if it's won, it's done, it's Sun, it's HP, it's IBM," said John Rando, senior vice president and group executive of Digital Worldwide Services. "But, as you go to 64-bit the leader is Digital and the new Compaq, and that will change the rules of the game in the Unix marketplace.
"The other dimension is not only 64-bit but how well do you interact with NT? What's your ability to coexist, share information, share application interfaces? What's the working relationship with Microsoft going forward? All of these are strengths of the new Compaq going forward," he said.
The Compaq-Digital merger "really gives the marketplace an alternative to what is becoming a Sun-only Unix, which I think is critical for customers," said Rando.
In particular, Rando said that Digital's strength in 64-bit Unix has given it a head start over its competition, including Sun and HP.
"Digital's advancement in 64-bit Unix and the number of applications that we have ported already to our Unix platform on 64-bit puts us way ahead of other competitors in the marketplace, and it puts HP at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of the amount of migration to 64-bit that's going to have to take place. That's going to re-open the market share game for Unix," Rando said.
While he would not describe specific details of Compaq's post-merger Unix strategy, Rando said that more concrete details would begin to emerge in the coming weeks as the acquisition enters its final stages and faces Digital shareholder approval.