HP enters Unix server solution fray

“Today marks a watershed event for Hewlett-Packard and for our customers,” declared Carly Fiorina, president and CEO of HP in New York City’s Regent Hotel on Sept. 11. “With today’s announcement, we are delivering to the industry the most powerful Unix server line-up, top to bottom, bar none.”

The introduction of HP’s 9000 Superdome server – a Unix computing platform touted as the fastest server in its market, operating at twice the speed of the HP V-Class server – might strike fear into the heart of the competition, namely mainframe kingpin IBM Corp. and Internet server provider Sun Microsystems Inc.

The HP 9000 Superdome comes in configurations from two to 64 processors, boasts 192 PCI slots and up to 256GB of memory. The big iron box runs PA RISC chips, but can be upgraded to IA-64 once that chip becomes available in late 2002.

“With IBM, you have to switch systems,” quipped Duane Zitzner, HP’s president of computing systems while explaining Superdome’s flexibility. “With Sun you have to switch vendors.”

The Superdome server offers virtual partitioning and resource partitioning, thus enabling ISPs and ASPs to host multiple customers on a single box.

“On the Internet, power and speed only matter if the solution we deliver to users can slip into their existing computing environment,” Fiorina continued. “These solutions must embrace the realities of today’s technological landscape as well as tomorrow’s and address the transformation needs of business.”

HP is banking on the Superdome’s ability to turn their hardware solution fortunes around. In recent months, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor has taken a beating at the hands of IBM and Sun in the Unix server market, all the while plotting a return to prominence.