Sun Broadens Migration Offerings for Solaris Platforms
Published: April 19, 2006
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
For years and years, the big three Unix players have had competitive replacement programs in place so they could chase the disgruntled customers in their competitors' bases with cheaper servers and software and migration services to help them make the jump. While the number of customers who make such platform jumps are small, over the course of a year, hundreds of millions of dollars in deals go down. Of course, it is best to migrate your own vintage installed base as well as chase competitors, and that is what Sun Microsystems is doing with the Enterprise Migration Suite announced today.
While the past competitive replacement programs that Sun used to run were cross-divisional, and usually spearheaded by Sun's Computer Systems Group and then its Scalable Systems Group, which creates and sells the Sparc-based server platforms, the migration suite today has been put together by Sun's services unit and aims not just at getting companies using competitors' products to move to Sun Fire servers (based on Opterons as well as Sparcs), but also to get that vast installed base of Solaris 2.6. Solaris 2.7, Solaris 2.8, and Solaris 9 customers to get moving ahead to Solaris 10 and new iron.
According to Keith Hudgell, product executive for consulting services for Sun who manages the new migration suite of services, Sun is taking the best practices it has learned through migrations from AIX and HP-UX as well as older versions of Solaris and is creating a consistent methodology to move customers--and make them less nervous about moving in the first place.
"We've simplified the migration process into four major elements, and we are making the service more repeatable," Hudgell explains, adding that Sun has created a migration justification assessment service that it runs right at the beginning of the process so customers know just how deep the water is before they jump in. After assessing whether or not a migration makes sense, Sun does a code audit on the applications running on the boxes to be replaced and then commences designing a new server architecture for the migrated applications. Customers can back out at this point, but if they like what they see, they buy the gear and pay Sun and its partners to do the implementation. The fourth phase, which is optional, is operational support after the migration is done, a kind of "post production" hand-holding that Hudgell says some customers want. While the process embodied in the Enterprise Migration Suite is repeatable, predicting the pricing is not as easy. "This is always a challenge," says Hudgell. "Every migration is unique in terms of the size of applications and the complexity of the systems." Therefore, pricing for services is, by its very nature, less predictable than for hardware and software. But unlike prior programs, the Enterprise Migration Suite is based on the practices of the large number of migrations that Sun has done in the past three years and includes a roadmap to guide the migration and clear milestones that show the progress of the migration to customers.
The Enterprise Migration Suite will be available at the end of June from Sun Services, and will be available on a worldwide basis for both Sparc and Opteron systems.
For years, has been chasing IBM's AIX installed base with its Blue Away competitive replacement deal and Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX installed base with its HP Away program. Sun was particularly aggressive during and after the HP merger with Compaq, when HP consolidated hardware lines, mothballing the Tru64 Unix variant from the former Digital Equipment and their associated AlphaServers. You can still buy these machines from HP today and HP Plans to support them until 2010, but that is not a long enough time horizon for some customers, which is why Sun launched the HP Away competitive replacement program in July 2003. In August 2004, after Sun had ramped up its initial Sun Fire V20z and V40z Opteron servers, these boxes and Solaris 9 were added to the program.
The initial HP Away program had various incentives to help HP Unix users to migrate to Sparc servers running Solaris. On the Sparc boxes, these incentives included a free two-day assessment to determine the cost and technical requirements for migration and a further two-week assessment service. Sun also offered application porting services, finance and trade-in offers, and a 90-day deferred payment scheme to sweeten the move from HP to Sun hardware. With the addition of Opteron-based servers to the deal in the fall of 2004, Sun offered tools and best practices guides to help with the move from HP-UX and Tru64 to Solaris running on Opteron as well as subscription-based pricing on servers and 3.9 percent financing with no interest or payments until 2005.
With the Enterprise Migration Suite, Sun seems focused less on wheeling and dealing to make a server sale and more on outlining exactly how a migration will go and what it will cost. Presumably, there is a lot of wheeling and dealing in there, too.
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