McNealy Expresses an Urge to Merge OSes

Is there anyone in the tech press who didn't get a heads up today about Scott McNealy's public letter to Hewlett-Packard's new CEO, Mark Hurd, in which the Sun Microsystems chief exec suggests that H-P should converge HP-UX with Solaris 10?

''HP and Sun share a common history of innovation,'' McNealy wrote. ''We've both delivered terrific products over the years. But HP has also made strategic decisions that compel its customers, developers and partners to change: ending development of your enterprise servers based on PA-RISC, and relegating your operating system, HP-UX, to Itanium. ''We propose an alternative - that Sun and HP commit to converge HP-UX with Sun's flagship volume UNIX, Solaris 10.''

How does he do that? McNealy's language is both solicitous and condescending at the same time. He's basically saying, ''Hey, dude, it would be so great if we got together... especially since you boned a bunch of your own customers.''

There was even a photo posted with the letter of McNealy sitting at a keyboard and monitor (again in the sweater!), as though he’d just dashed off the email. Can a photo be sarcastic?

HP-UX is a version of the Unix OS. It runs only on H-P's PA-RISC-based 9000 server line (which, as McNealy pointed out, the company is phasing out), and on its Itanium-based Integrity line, which has not had the predicted market momentum.

''With the end of PA-RISC systems, and HP-UX now only available on Itanium,'' McNealy continued, ''we're convinced a converged HP-UX/Solaris 10 platform could play a far stronger role in HP's product portfolio. We believe there's benefit to HP, our mutual customers, developers and partners. We're hopeful that HP will work with us and further embrace Solaris 10.''

McNealy's his timing looks a lot like a bid to grab some of the available spotlight from a big H-P announcement tomorrow. Hurd, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, and Oracle chief Larry Ellison are set to deliver a ''visionary outlook'' on ''the future of enterprise computing,'' which is expected to include big news about the third generation of Integrity servers.

And, of course, we in the media are helping him steal a bit of that thunder. We can't help ourselves.

Tom Goguen, Sun's VP of systems software, insists that the offer was not a publicity stunt, and that Sun is serious about converging the two OSes.

Earlier this week, another Sun exec, Larry Singer, was heard to liken the H-P's Itanium event to ''that old saying, 'trying to put lipstick on a pig.'''

No comment today from H-P on the letter.


About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].