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April 11, 2005

Sun, HP tout big Unix server wins

Sun Microsystems was happy as a pig in cold mud last week after getting long-time financial services customer JPMorgan Chase to talk about its commitment to Sun's Solaris platform.

By CBR Staff Writer

JPMC is a huge user of IBM mainframes and Unix kit of just about every stripe, but had a particularly large installation of Sparc/Solaris servers that it built up over the 1990s – just like so many other financial services firms.

While JPMC outsourced many IT operations a few years ago to IBM (and has subsequently moved many of those operations back inside the company) and was acquiring IBM’s Power4 servers when Sun’s Sparc platforms fell behind in performance and bang for the buck, Sun’s improving Sun Fire product line and much-improved Solaris 10 platform seems to have got JPMC enthusiastic about Sun products again.

The forebears of JPMC were among the earliest customers Sun had, over 20 years ago, and now the Investment Bank Technology team inside JPMC has committed to build out existing computing grids (which are based on Linux) and to jointly build a virtualized data center and data archiving applications with Sun on the Solaris 10 platform running on both Sparc and Opteron servers. Sun has been piloting various technologies in JPMC operations in New York, London and Hong Kong.

Hewlett-Packard was similarly relieved that the Nasdaq exchange has re-upped its commitment to the Unix-based NonStop fault tolerant server line that HP sells. More than 23 years ago, NASDAQ was one of the first big customers for the Tandem NonStop servers, and the stock exchange has just inked a three-year deal to buy 500 nodes to upgrade the cluster behind Nasdaq, which supports 700 brokerages and processes 7.5 million quote updates, 4.2 million trade reports, 2.6 million orders, and 2.3 billion shares traded per day.

HP Financial Services provided the financing for the deal; it is unclear if Nasdaq was able to get a pay-per-use deal, but considering that it is growing its workload at 35% per year and has some pretty big transaction spikes to cope with – probably the worst in the world, in fact – a pay-per-use deal makes sense economically.

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