posted by Eugenia Loli on Tue 8th Jul 2003 18:00 UTC
IconToday we host an interview with Christophe de Dinechin, Software Architect in HP-UX (Software business unit, Infrastructure Solutions). Most of you already know HP-UX, the leading "traditional" UNIX today feature-wise (second only to Solaris in Unix market-share, mostly competing with AIX). With Christophe we discuss HP-UX's competition, the other... 5 OSes HP supports with its various products, the Itanium platform and more.

1. What is HP-UX's main market? Where does the OS is mostly used?

HP-UX logo Christophe de Dinechin: The short answer is: "enterprise computing". The long answer can be found on HP's web site.

2. What are HP-UX's advantages and disantvantages over AIX and Solaris, purely technically-speaking?

Christophe de Dinechin: HP-UX has been ranked #1 overall by the DH Brown 2002 Unix review. So it's a well-balanced Unix.

But in my opinion, the major differentiator is Itanium. An OS like HP-UX, AIX or Solaris cannot be considered in isolation of the platform it runs on. And Itanium is taking the top spot in performance regularly, from SPEC to TPC, yet you can buy Itanium workstations for less than $3500. So customers are starting to believe HP's "high performance at low cost" statements.

3. What do you see as the biggest competitor today on HP-UX's business? Windows or Linux and why?

Christophe de Dinechin: Both are very serious competitors. If you are caught between a lion and a leopard, you don't start asking "Who's the most dangerous", you think about ways to fight both or have them fight each other.

Linux competes more in the technical computing area. Itanium supercomputers run Linux. The development environment and ecosystem of technical solutions makes the difference.

Windows competes in the traditional "enterprise" markets. They got very good TPC benchmarks lately.

4. What features from Tru64-UNIX have been or will be incorporated to HP-UX? What is to happen to Tru64, will they be new big releases or just patches from now on?

Christophe de Dinechin: HP released a roadmap for a transition from Tru64 to HP-UX, and also published a FAQ which answers these questions. According to this FAQ, HP is committed to develop new versions until at least 2004, including support for up to 64 processors, and transition tools to HP-UX. There will be at least a couple of point releases, not just patches. Naturally, during that time, HP-UX will start integrating some of the strengths of Compaq's offering.

5. HP supports a whole range of OSes, from VMS to Tru64 and Linux, Windows etc. Do you believe that each OS is built and is scalable to a specific market, or do you think that all OSes can be engineered to do (and do well) just about anything?

Christophe de Dinechin: Linux and other GNU operating systems (BSD, Hurd-based, etc) share a remarkable flexibility due to their open-source nature. They can run on anything from watches or toasters to supercomputers. So an OS can be engineered to do just about anything.

The downside is that the GNUs tend to not do anything particularly well, with a few exceptions (BSD's security is an example). Linux doesn't scale exactly as well as HP-UX, and it's user interface is not yet as consistent and newbie-friendly as MacOS X.

Commercial offerings on the other hand have a "sense of purpose", a strategic direction. They are built for a specific market because they need a market, they need to make money. Linux doesn't need to make money.

The boundary is quite fuzzy, however. Microsoft is ready to lose a lot of money to conquer a new strategic position, see their current work on embedded systems, PDAs and cell phones. Similarly, HP and Intel invested massively in Itanium. In the brave GNU world, Linux is getting strategic directions from the people who want to make money with it, like HP, RedHat, IBM.

Table of contents
  1. "Christophe de Dinechin Interview, Part I"
  2. "Christophe de Dinechin Interview, Part II"
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