% fortune -ae paul murphy

"HP promises Unix improvements" uhuh

Stephan Shankland had a story under that headline, minus the "uhuh" of course, on the December 1st CNET news page - here's his head line summary:

Hewlett-Packard is preparing to release security and virtualization improvements to its Unix operating system and says it's now fulfilling a long-promised Itanium performance advantage.

The promise wasn't that HP-UX 11i would last more than ten years, but that Itanium compilers would eventually be developed to take better advantage of the machine's VLIW structure - and its those compilers that moved Shankland's interviewee: Nick van der Zweep, HP's director of virtualization and Integrity software, to claim:

Server software in general runs 25 to 35 percent faster on version 3 because of the new compiler, and Java programs show even more.

Performance gains, presumably.

So after ten years of demolishing PA-RISC, ten years during which Compaq essentially completed its reverse takeover of HP, ten years of escalating promises of market breakthroughs and astonishing performance, where's Itanium?

Nowhere. Microsoft simply didn't deliver the software and its failure to do so allowed the Sun engineered AMD move to 64bit x86 to put Intel solidly behind the eight ball - thereby gutting the Itanium market.

So now the venerable HP-UX gets a better compiler backend, but only for Itanium, and this qualifies for glowing press releases and the attention of a senior CNET writer? Oddly, I think irt does, because if you're still using HP-UX there's an important message here: it's way past time to move to either Linux or Solaris, because your preferred vendor is busily petting you on the head with one hand, while doing nothing for you with the other.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.