HP trumpets Linux to woo Sun customers

The company says it garnered $75 million in revenue in 2003 with a program that encourages customers of rival Sun Microsystems to move to HP servers that run Linux.

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Stephen Shankland
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NEW YORK--Hewlett-Packard garnered $75 million in revenue in 2003 with a program that encourages customers of rival Sun Microsystems to move to HP servers that run Linux, the company said Wednesday.

The program, which offers $25,000 worth of migration services, attracted 50 customers since it launched in October, Efrain Rovira, HP's worldwide director of Linux marketing, said at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

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"We think that's a great turnout," Rovira said. All 50 customers were new to HP, he said.

Sun countered that it had been successful in attracting HP customers--those who used the Tru64 version of Unix, in particular.

"When it announced the end of life of Alpha/Tru64, HP left hundreds of thousands of customers with no other choice but to undergo a costly migration to an unproven platform," Sun spokeswoman Sabrina Guttman said. "Sun's HP Away program, which attracted over 50 customers away from HP in a single quarter last year, offers these abandoned customers with the long-term roadmap and predictable release cycle of our SPARC/Solaris systems."

HP, Dell and IBM have been fighting for years for top share in the market for servers based on Intel's processors, but the arrival of Linux has changed the landscape by offering an alternative operating system to Microsoft's Windows. Sun, which long shunned Windows in favor of its own Solaris, now offers Linux servers with Intel processors.

Linux runs both on HP's Proliant servers using Intel Xeon processors and its Integrity servers using Intel Itanium processors, but Rovira declined to say how many of the customers bought which servers. "An important number are moving to Integrity, but because of the sweet spot of Linux, the larger number is moving to Proliant," he said.