Sun Leaps Ahead in Unix Preference Survey

IBM retains top spot, but Sun edges out HP in survey of Unix customers.
Posted December 13, 2006

David Needle

Unix customers gave a big thumbs up to IBM and Sun Microsystems in the latest survey results by Gabriel Consulting Group. The research firm's 4th Quarter Unix Vendor Preference Survey queried 277 enterprise Unix customers about their experience with and perceptions of the three major Unix systems suppliers; HP, IBM and Sun.

"The real surprise is that Sun (Quote) surpassed HP (Quote) to finish a strong second," said Dan Olds, GCG principal analyst and CEO. "Last year, Sun was well behind both HP and IBM overall and in most categories. This year, they definitely win our 'Most Improved Unix Vendor' award."

IBM (Quote) won most of the 15 Technology categories. Olds said Sun scored well on system management and scalability. HP did well in the operating system categories though Olds noted the company finished second or third in all the technology categories.

Under a separate Vendor section, Sun had the top "Commitment to Unix" and "Unix Innovation" category scores. HP narrowly beat out IBM under the "Keeps Their Promises" category with Sun in third place.

The GCC survey is snapshot of current customer attitudes and perceptions, but Olds believes the results are also indicative of future sales trends and momentum shifts.

For example, when asked who would be the dominant player in the Unix market five years from now, 42 percent said IBM, 33 percent said Sun and 23 percent went with HP.

But Olds concedes several answers were affected by recent events that may have little to no bearing by next year on future purchase decisions. "The survey was taken at the height of HP's pretexting scandal and I think that hurt their results in some areas," Olds told "I asked some open-ended questions where people could say how they felt about a vendor and some comments mentioned a lack of trust and other references to the scandal which I think hurt HP, if only short term."

However, Olds does praise Sun for bringing out a lot of new products in 2006 and reinvigorating its customer base. "The Niagara T1000 was a successful rollout and their Unix revenue has been strong," said Olds.

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