Continuing to call more attention to its recently achieved status as the world's #1 server vendor, Hewlett-Packard is slapping back aggressively at IBM's recent claims to have wooed hundreds of HP customers via IBM's Migration Factory campaign, with HP saying more than 100 IBM mainframe customers have switched over to HP systems in the past year.
Emphasizing that the only numbers that really matter are worldwide totals for market share and revenue, Craig Wagner of HP's Business Critical Systems team begged to differ with IBM's recent contention that it's gaining market momentum by virtue of HP-to-IBM migratory deals disclosed by IBM in our recent column called Global CIO: IBM Details Raids On Customers From HP And Oracle.
Wagner, who's director of solutions and sales enablement for HP's Business Critical Systems unit, said that while IBM's a formidable competitor, the most-recent numbers from IDC do not support IBM's contention that it is taking share out of HP's hide—in fact, quite the contrary, Wagner said in a phone discussion Monday.
"While it's tempting to speak about some isolated wins, as IBM chose to do, we believe that some of these bigger numbers from [research firm] IDC are more revealing," Wagner said as he cited the following hot-off-the-presses figures from IDC's "latest Q3 tracker" server research:
Based by revenue in the worldwide server market, HP has picked up 3.6 points of market share for a total of 33.4%, Wagner said, while IBM's corresponding share has fallen 1.2 points to 30.6%.
And Wagner went on to say that HP's objectively measured momentum is inextricably linked to the increasing success of its Converged Infrastructure strategy, which includes servers but also extends out to storage, networking, and management.
"Those are IDC's numbers, not our numbers, and IBM has led in server share since forever—or at least since1996," Wagner said with a laugh.
"But that flipped in 2010 when we took over the top spot, and we think it's not a coincidence that that change in server leadership took place when we introduced our Converged Infrastructure strategy. So we think the trends are going in the right direction for us.
Offering a little migratory evidence of his own, Wagner then detailed three big customers that have jumped from IBM over to HP, again in large part due to their confidence in the Converged Infrastructure strategy from HP.
"In the last year, more than 100 customers have migrated from IBM mainframes to HP, and as everyone knows those are very difficult migrations to achieve," Wagner said.
"The typical scenario involves a tremendous amount of inertia and investments in both people and technology and processes, so these are really uphill battles to win.
"But over and over, we're finding that customers are willing to make that migration from IBM mainframes to HP systems because they're telling us three things: first and foremost, the ongoing cost of supporting those mainframes is difficult to deal with; second, their ability to integrate into the mainframe environment any type of new technology in an agile and innovative way is difficult; and third, that finding mainframe talent and expertise is simply very hard to do—guys who know it are retiring," Wagner claimed.
He then detailed three specific large-customer wins that HP has chalked up in its ongoing competition with IBM:
Kumho Tires: A leading South Korean tire manufacturer, Kumho needed to update its legacy IBM mainframe to support its growing business, HP said. After evaluating several vendors' products, Kumho selected the HP Integrity Superdome server running the HP-UX operating system.
Bernalillo County: New Mexico's most-populous county decided to replace its IBM mainframe environment "with an infrastructure that could improve the reliability of its applications, maximize efficiencies and reduce costs," HP said. "By deploying Integrity server blades with HP-UX operating system, the county decreased the number of physical servers, improved overall performance as well as reduced power and cooling requirements by 40 percent."
Union National Bank: Based in the United Arab Emirates, Union National consolidated its core banking system from a multiple AIX clusters—"server sprawl," as Wagner called it—to HP Integrity Superdome 2 servers.
Asked how he would compare and contrast to a prospective customer the server philosophies of HP and IBM, Wagner replied, "When it comes down to choosing HP versus IBM, we think it's not only a server question but it's an infrastructure question.
"We differ on how that venue is defined, and we consider it's larger than just servers: it also hast to include storage and networks and management—we think it's vital to recognize that very different scale to the question," Wagner said.
"And the HP approach is to have common infrastructure, common management, and overall a common set of core optimized infrastructures, all working together in one simple way: that's our Converged Infrastructure concept.
"We feel the IBM concept is a more siloed approach, where they seek to optimize certain environments in certain ways," Wagner said.
"And, clearly, there are some advantages to that approach: you can optimize a specific box for a certain specific purpose—but, when you go that route and build optimized silos, you also 'de-optimize' your ability for them to work together and be managed together simply and effectively."
So for CIOs, it looks like an absolutely fantastic time to be doing some buying, because the sellers are aggressively pushing their different approaches and are becoming increasingly vocal about how they're portraying those strategies and the results of their efforts.
On top of that, with Oracle and Dell each offering its own unique approaches, the server market might not be the Wild West free-for-all of the late '90s, but there are clearly a range of approaches, options, and bundles for CIOs to consider.
Our column 12 days ago called Global CIO: IBM Details Raids On Customers From HP And Oracle triggered HP's response, and we're glad to be able to offer this public discussion of the two companies' approaches.
In that earlier column, IBM offered this perspective: "Customers are turning to IBM for risk-mitigation in moving off Sun and HP platforms and for IBM's long-term investments in integrated systems—industry-leading hardware, systems software and middleware. These systems are designed to handle emerging workloads such as business analytics. For example, businesses can use IBM technology to connect with millions of prospects and customers, and gain real insight about buyers of cars, insurance, retails and other products by mining global data about those buyers and analyzing that information to their benefit."
Along with my colleague Alex Wolfe and his excellent "Server Den" columns—including Server Den: HP Fires Back At Oracle--we'll do our best to help you keep up with the latest strategies in this highly dynamic part of the market.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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