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HP Coaxes Alphas To Itaniums

When Hewlett-Packard announced this fall that the days of the Alpha processor were numbered, the machine was immediately in play. Sooner or later -- even very much later -- users would have to move to new processors whether built by HP or another manufacturer.

Soon, Sun Microsystems was mounting an aggressive assault on the installed Alpha base. Now HP is finding that the Alpha workhorse Open VMS operating system, originally thought to be a liability because of its age, is turning out to be an asset.

"Open VMS Engineering remains on track to deliver OpenVMS V8.2, the first production quality release of OpenVMS for Itanium systems," said Terry Shannon, an independent consultant who has followed the Alpha since it was introduced in 1992. He said that software releases and other updates will serve to convince users to stay with HP with most Alpha users eventually moving to the Itanium family. "And, Open VMS (will) play a key role in HP's emerging Adaptive Enterprise strategy."

Shannon ticked off a long list of reasons Alpha users will eventually move over to the Itanium family, although he noted the movement will take years because the older processor family will be supported with service and new releases for years go come. He suggests that current Alpha users "maintain -- or initiate -- service contracts on their hardware and software. Customers under service contracts will be able to move their OpenVMS Alpha OS and apps to OpenVMS Itanium gear at no cost.

"Those customers who do not have service and maintenance contracts will have to pay 40 percent of the list price of the new Itanium OS and apps. Given the cost of OSes, layered products and tools, a valid maintenance contract can be a big money saver," Shannon said.

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