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HP swooping in on Sun customers

Hewlett-Packard continues to take advantage of Sun's uncertain future by teaming up with Microsoft, Novell, and Red Hat to offer migration tools to lure away its customers.

Hewlett-Packard has certainly benefited from the uncertainty over Sun Microsystems' future, and now it's lined up a few partners to help win over more Sun customers.

In light of Oracle's failure thus far to seal its takeover of Sun, HP announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with Microsoft, Novell, and Red Hat to offer further incentives to Sun customers.

HP reported that during the 12 months ending October 31, it scooped up more than 350 customers from Sun with offers of specialized services and support, and financial incentives through its HP Complete Care program. Now, the company said, it has enhanced this program with the help of its new partners to give Sun customers what HP is selling as "peace of mind."

HP said its new Complete Care program will offer such benefits as a 50 percent discount on Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Fundamentals training, 25 percent off Red Hat Global Training, and greater support through its Migration Competency Center in France.

Thanks to its new partnerships, HP said, it can also offer customers the flexibility to choose from among server operating systems, including Unix, Windows Server, Suse Linux, Red Hat Linux, and even Sun's own Solaris.

Oracle announced its intent to buy Sun in mid-April, but concerns from the European Commission and other parties over an Oracle-owned MySQL have stalled the deal. Recent promises from Oracle to preserve and protect MySQL seem to have eased EC concerns. But each day the deal remains unfinished, Sun customers likely wonder whether they should take their business elsewhere.

A recent IDC report showed that Sun had suffered a 35 percent drop in third-quarter sales year over year, compared with much smaller declines for rivals HP and IBM.

Yet even before the turmoil with Oracle and the European Commission, HP has long taken advantage of the ups and downs of Sun's fortunes to try to woo away customers. HP's strategy has been to dangle incentives and even free services to convince companies to move away from Sun's Solaris operating environment and Sparc architecture.