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Sun's McNealy wants HP-UX Solaris merger

By Matt Whipp

Posted on 3 Mar 2006 at 10:48

Sun Microsystems' CEO Scott McNealy has published an open letter to HP, proposing a merger of their respective Unix platforms.

In the past, Sun's top execs have been highly critical of HP-UX's future. Suns' President Jonathan Schwartz has repeatedly referred to the 'demise' and its troubled commitment to Intel's Itanium chip.

Now, it seems, they've hit on a new idea. 'We propose an alternative,' writes McNealy in the letter. 'That Sun and HP commit to converge HP-UX with Sun's flagship volume UNIX, Solaris 10.'

HP's problem, according to Schwartz, is that they've left their customers at a fork in the road where the choices are either to continue using HP-UX on high-end systems, but re-architect everything in tune with Itanium, or go with low-cost x86 volume systems, where you can no longer use HP-UX.

'By combining our resources and investments, HP's customer and developer communities would gain the benefit of the fastest growing operating system in the marketplace: improved economics, rapid innovation, and a rich future roadmap otherwise unavailable to your Proliant user base (given that HP-UX doesn't run on Proliant),' writes McNealy. 'We're convinced a converged HP-UX/Solaris 10 platform could play a far stronger role in HP's product portfolio. We believe there's benefit to HP, our mutual customers, developers and partners. We're hopeful that HP will work with us and further embrace Solaris 10.'

Solaris already runs on HP's Proliant volume servers. And although Schwartz claims to have spotted a glimmer of interest from the HP camp, the point of open letters is that they are a public announcement made as if private. Sun wants to get HP's HP-UX customers to buy in to the idea and pressure HP.

HP has yet to respond, but at least one potential hurdle is that Solaris is open-source while HP-UX is not.

However, the ongoing SCO dispute gives hints that this might easily be overcome. Both companies were found by SCO not to have misappropriated Unix IP, even though Sun made Solaris open-source. Perhaps SCO would look equally kindly on HP should it do the same.

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