HP-UX 11 now shipping

Company says Sun's Java obsession is hurting Solaris development: "They're spending too much time brewing coffee"

By Robert McMillan

September  1997
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San Francisco (September 15, 1997) -- Apparently Hewlett Packard Company does not agree with SunWorld's readership.

Back in July, we published the results of a SunWorld reader survey (see Resources below) in which you said that Sun's Java-centric focus is not hurting it in its traditional markets. You also said that you would rather not see more development efforts on Solaris than on Java.

Well, tomorrow HP will announce that it is shipping a new version of its HP-UX operating system -- version 11 -- and David Scott, the director of HP-UX software, says this release proves that Solaris is losing ground to his operating system. "Sun is investing so much money in Java they're really starving Solaris investment," he says. "They're spending too much time brewing coffee to win the high-end game."

Of course Sun scoffs at the idea that its Solaris development has been hindered by Java. "There are more engineers in Solaris now than there were last year," says Solaris senior marketing manager Milan Thanawala. "At least ten percent more," he reckons.

HP's shot at Sun can hardly come as a surprise. After all, Sun jumped all over HP just last April when HP announced plans to work more closely with Microsoft on HP-NT integration. According to Sun, the deal with Microsoft was a sign that HP was ceding its Unix business in the interest of becoming a Windows NT reseller.

But analysts have criticized Sun for talking about NT inferiority rather than NT interoperability. Privately, even some Sun executives admit that things might be better if the anti-Microsoft rhetoric -- which has become standard in Sun CEO Scott McNealy's keynotes -- was toned down a notch.

Brad Day, a vice president with Giga Information Group, says that HP-UX 11 shows that the company has not, in fact, been taken over by NT zeal. "A lot of people, including Sun, have been throwing around a lot of FUD [fear, uncertainty, and doubt] in HP accounts," he says, adding that version 11 "puts HP in a position of being unquestionably a very strong mainframe alternative." He predicts "as they move towards Merced [HP's implementation of the Intel IA-64 architecture] they'll probably invest more in Merced than NT."

Day predicts that the real benefits of HP's new operating system will be realized when the new HP 9000 V-class hardware, with its high-speed bus architecture, ships later this fall. This is good news for power database users who want to take advantage of the larger (16 gigabyte) physical memory that comes with a 64-bit architecture. HP's Scott promises that Oracle, Sybase, and Informix will have 64-bit applications available the day the V-class ships -- a date that Scott, along with the rest of HP, claims will be no later than November 17, 1997, at 2:15 p.m. Thanawala says that Sun will deliver beta code of its fully 64-bit Solaris OS to key ISVs like Oracle in November so they can begin porting similar applications.

Scott says that the new OS has been TPC-C (Transaction Processing Performance Council) benchmarked at 39,469 transactions per minute (tpmC), $94.18 per tpmC. These benchmarks were achieved on a currently unavailable 16-way PA-8200 processor V-class machine running Sybase. Last June Sun posted TPC-C numbers of 31,147 tpmC and $108.90 tpmC on a 24-way 250 MHz UltraSPARC Ultra Enterprise 6000 server running Oracle. Significantly, Sun's machine had six gigabytes (GB) of main memory. HP's had 16 GB.

Interestingly, HP has nothing significant to add to its Windows-Unix interoperability story with version 11. Apparently, the Microsoft agreement did not come in time to affect the latest version.


And the features are...
D.H. Brown research analyst Greg Weiss says, "We've typically seen HP as trailing other Unix vendors in their adoption of new technology. With this release they've done a lot of catching up and added some really nice features than we [D.H. Brown] think make them a definite contender."

One of the features that Weiss was impressed with was something called Ignite/UX, which lets administrators push OS setup configurations to remote boxes anywhere on the network. The product, included in the base OS, seems similar to Solaris's WebStart, except that HP says that no remote administrator is required to pull the software down. System administrators set up a "golden system image" which can then be pushed in parallel across a network, allowing multiple distributed versions of HP-UX to be installed quickly.

Other features include:


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