September 13, 2004

IBM pitches/HP swings at new OpenPower Servers

Author: Joe Barr

The presidential campaign is not the only race that's being hotly contested these days. Consider the battle of titans underway as the two largest computer hardware firms in the world -- IBM and HP -- duke it out to become the "most favored vendor" of the burgeoning community of Linux users. Late last week IBM notified news organizations -- under an embargo effective until today, September 13th -- of yet another line of Linux-powered servers. The new offering is called OpenPower and is based on IBM's 64-bit POWER 5 hardware platform. Almost on the heels of the embargoed news came an offer from HP to talk to them about why IBM's newest Linux offering is not all that.

Not that the embargo did much good. CNet carried a story on the new servers Friday afternoon, apparently gleaned from other sources. In the CNET story, it's not HP who steps up to the plate to speak against the new servers, it's Sun.

Executive VP of Sun's network systems group John Fowler is quoted as saying of the new offering, "you have clumps of proprietary hardware dropped in the middle of it."

Update: The original version of the story said "network server group" instead of "network systems group." We've been corrected by a public relations rep.

You can't really say that IBM didn't ask for such responses from HP and SUN, given the lead paragraph of the draft of the press release provided to NewsForge. It states:

ARMONK, NY, September 13, 2004 -- IBM today announced that a POWER5-based
server specifically tuned for Linux has shattered performance records for an
entry-level computing system. The powerful new IBM eServer(tm) OpenPower(tm)
720 provides a Linux-based alternative to higher priced HP and Sun
entry-level UNIX systems, enabling customers to attain greater business
productivity and lower costs.

HP's reaction to the new servers also questions IBM's fidelity to openness, saying "IBM talks open but pushes proprietary. How can IBM call this server 'OpenPower' if it doesn't run AIX nor i5/Os? HP Integrity servers run
HP-UX, Linux, Windows and OpenVMS in the same system."

The draft of IBM's press release did not address the issue of proprietary hardware and contents itself with claims that the OpenPower server "smashes HP and Sun on crucial industry
benchmarks." IBM added that "The OpenPower 720 supports SLES 9 from Novell SUSE LINUX and RHEL AS 3 from Red Hat."

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