Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard Recruits Microsoft To Raid Sun's Customers

HP plus Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell are trying to pull leery CIOs away from Sun before the Oracle deal closes.

Bob Evans, Contributor

January 5, 2010

5 Min Read

Talk about a buyer's market! Microsoft has joined forces with Hewlett-Packard as HP accelerates its targeted raids on Sun customers by promising fully configured systems and specialized services with lower TCO. HP's latest offensive also includes Novell and Red Hat and comes just weeks after a Sun counterpunch offered HP customers "no-risk migration assessments" that were sure to lead to—you guessed it—lower TCO.

Conjuring up images of coordinated carnivores cutting one out of a herd of antelopes or wildebeests, HP proclaims its new four-way partnership will "provide customers with service offerings, incentives and training programs that streamline the migration from Sun to HP-based solutions, while reducing total cost of ownership."

Called "HP CompleteCare," the new bundle of integrated sets of expertise will "ensure that customers' data center environments are fully supported" and will include "proof of concept, initial assessments, application migration, implementation, and total life-cycle services."

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This latest hunting party is the latest in a series of offensives HP has staged against Sun's installed base this year and that have intensified since Sun agreed in April to be acquired by Oracle. After that proposed acquisition was announced, HP and IBM and Dell stepped up their recruitment of Sun customers by playing on their concerns over how the new owners might change support, services, and pricing.

(To learn more about the efforts of IBM and HP to recruit Sun customers, and about the Oracle-Sun deal, please check out the "Recommended Reading" list at the end of this column.)

After having sand kicked in its face quite openly and aggressively by IBM and HP throughout the summer, Sun early last month stepped up its own counteroffensive against HP by making a slew of promises about what HP customers could look forward to if they'd make the jump to Sun. In a Dec. 1 article called Sun Trying To Snatch HP Customers, we described Sun's efforts to ward off some of the brutal raiding of its customer base in which HP, IBM and Dell were and still are engaged:

Looking to show that turnabout is very fair play, Sun has launched a campaign to snatch customers from HP with a "no-risk migration assessment" aimed at HP enterprise users who "are facing higher support costs, performance and availability issues, and loss of ISV support for critical business applications."

The offer from Sun Professional Services says that Sun's servers, storage solutions, and implementation services will let HP enterprise customers do everything except solve for Pi: "You can reduce complexity and support costs, enhance performance and business agility, improve asset utilization and infrastructure reliability, save money on power, cooling and real-estate and protect your applications, data and business processes."

But for all of that bark, I'm not sure just how much bite is behind the Sun effort to grab customers from HP: a fairly vigorous search of the website for Sun Professional Services failed to turn up any special program for HP enterprise customers, and the only link offered in the press release touting the "Make Your Move" campaign went to a generic registration page. That page made no mention of HP, and only sought contact information from prospects.

But here's the hard truth about Sun: In spite of Sun's feisty and commendable efforts to fight back, Sun is in and will remain in a terribly exposed lame-duck position until the bureaucrats of the European Union complete their glacial-paced review of Oracle's bid to acquire Sun. That decision is expected later this month, and whatever verdict turns out to be, it can't possibly come soon enough for Sun if it hopes to be able to ward off further incursions into its customer base from not just IBM and HP but also, as described above, the alliances those two companies are forming with other industry partners that now include Microsoft, Red Hat, and Novell.

For example, here's how HP is positioning its new leave-Sun-and-join-us alliance with Microsoft: "HP’s more than 23,000 Microsoft-trained professionals continuously work with Microsoft on design, engineering testing and support to provide customers a smooth transition to HP-based solutions. . . . The new releases of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and upcoming release of SQL Server 2008 R2 deliver enhanced scalability, helping enable customers to easily consolidate workloads and reduce total cost of ownership. "

A few months ago, Larry Ellison said publicly that Sun was losing $100 million a month, and the company has had to shed many hundreds of jobs. The latest efforts by HP, Microsoft and others to continue peeling away Sun customers are perfectly legitimate and justified, and will no doubt continue until either (a) Oracle gains EU approval to complete the deal, or (b) Oracle drops its bid and Sun is left to try to survive on its own or to find a new suitor.

For CIOs, it seems like a perfect opportunity to hammer out some terrific deals with a major vendor of your choice: HP and IBM are incredibly safe and stable companies, while Sun might within just a few weeks be able to begin integrating its businesses, products, technologies, and operations with those of Oracle, itself an extremely safe and stable company.

While Sun customers certainly face some risk in deciding to stick with Sun and bet that the Oracle deal goes through, the payoff could be significant as Oracle—perfectly aware of how voraciously HP and IBM will continue to go after Sun accounts—will have every possible incentive to lavish superb treatment on those hearty holdouts.

Yes indeed, a rich and diverse buyer's market—ain't free-market competition grand??

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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