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Beyond the server and Unix technology, however, looms a much larger factor, Teter said.
"The big driver for servers is the ISVs," he said. "All the big ISVs except Oracle are moving from Solaris and to Red Hat and Windows. ISVs are in the position to drive the future of Unix. IBM is doing a lot of software, so AIX will be doing well for years."
Oracle's acquisition of Sun is also driving some customers to IBM because of questions over the future of SPARC and Solaris, Teter said. However, despite the rhetoric between Oracle and HP, Oracle's latest T4 server launch was focused on IBM, not HP.
"I thought that was brilliant," he said. "Oracle was already kicking HP while it's down. Now it's starting to fire arrows at IBM. Brilliant."
Bret Osborn, president of Lilien Systems, said that customers looking for alternatives to Unix, particularly those worried about Oracle dropping software support for HP server platforms, have some options.
"Customers are entertaining Linux," Osborn said. "They can transfer their Unix skill set to Linux pretty easily. And HP's x86 servers are still seen as a viable option. We're seeing competition for IBM Power and Oracle SPARC with HP's x86 platform."
Lilien is also seeing virtualization vendor VMware getting into the fray, Osborn said. "We're seeing HP interested in partnering with VMware on opportunities to compete with Power and SPARC. The challenge is, not a lot of VMware is being used to run applications like ERP."
HP could help secure the future of its Unix server and operating system business with an acquisition of a software vendor like SAP, Osborn said.
"There has to be support for the players in this space," he said. "If HP is not supported by Oracle in the long term, they have to do something. If they buy SAP, with its relevant database and application offerings, it would be competitive with Oracle, and even more competitive with IBM. But that's a huge acquisition just to sell Itanium servers."