HP and Intel used their joint Webcast of last Thursday to promote the future of the Itanium processor and HP's Integrity server line, using marketing guru Geoffrey Moore as a softball-tossing host. The show was already fully subscribed over the Web as it began early on Thursday morning California time — which is either a comment on the popularity of the content or a measure of the width of the purchased Internet band.
Now that the crowds are away, you can still watch the Webcast in a replay from the HP Web site, www.hp.com/go/hplive.
HP-UX users, as well as companies being taken to that environment like Summit and Amisys sites, should care a great deal about the future of Itanium. The processor remains the only long-term platform for HP's Unix, since the PA-RISC chips are being phased out from the HP server line. There's another end-of-life that HP has arranged for its enterprise customers, although the developers say this migration is simple so long as your application doesn't need to access native-level horsepower. Most Integrity customers report the servers deliver serious improvements over their PA-RISC predecessors.
HP's show was touted as a hard look at the enterprise issues, but the questions aired and answered didn't go far beyond what HP has already said. The tough questions, like those the HP 3000 community used to pose at conference roundtables, didn't seem to make the cut in the 45-minute show. And for an event which promised three CEOs, at one of them didn't appear for even three minutes.
Oracle's Larry Ellison checked in from Japan by video link to speak up on the promise of Itanium processors during the Web event. He believes the chip and servers built on it hold great promise for the computer industry and Oracle's database and application businesses. Two minutes and 25 seconds later, Larry was gone.
HP CEO Mark Hurd and Intel CEO Paul Otellini soldiered on without Ellison, led on by the leading questions from Moore. Perhaps being invited to moderate such a discussion includes some implicit rules about the hardness of the questioning. But the scripting looked obvious in some places. At one point Moore asked a question to which Otellini replied, "Well, it sounds like you answered the question with your own question, but let me spin it a bit."
Hurd said in prepared remarks that HP is ready to introduce a new Integrity chipset "that delivers up to 30 percent higher capacity, improves memory latency and bandwidth by up to 400 percent." The chipset introduces new availabity features as well. HP's got to introduce something new to cover the spot where they had hoped to roll out Montecito generations of Itanium in the Integrity servers. HP reps were eager for release dates on that processor during last fall's HP Technology Forum. Intel said about a week later that Montecito will be delayed until mid-year. That could push HP's Integrity releases based on Montecito into 2007, unless HP's got a head-start on integrating the unfinished chip.
Near the end, Moore asked about a big share of the enterprise world which will have nothing more to do with Itanium. HP had outlined the Itanium Solutions Alliance, and Moore asked if "IBM will see the light and join the alliance?" Hurd chuckled and said, "I think that's a much better question for them than for us."
Intel said it's investing more in Itanium, not less. They added that they see great momentum in the market toward Itanium adoption. HP now accounts for about 65 percent of the Itanium system sales. HP said that Itanium is essential to the vendor's enterprise strategy.
The questions got even softer toward the end of the program, some evidence that whatever hard ones were sent might not have passed through the Internet gateways intact. Near the close, a question was posed that read, "What are some of the other major platform trends that are driving your computer investments?" Perhaps a customer or an analyst out there really pitched that one, since it fishes for something off topic. HP and Intel, two companies both doing a lot more business outside of the Itanium space, stayed on topic about their Itanium course throughout the Webcast.