Hewlett-Packard is to shift 260 staff onto its Unix sales force in an effort to compete for more major contracts, particularly against Unix arch rival, Sun Microsystems.
The move is the latest example of HP?s about turn to Unix this year after a drift to Windows NT.
Internally the company believes one reason it has faltered in the Unix market is because of an understrength sales force and, as part of its restructuring program announced by chief executive Lew Platt last month, is shifting staff from other job roles into sales.
?We believe we have 20 per cent less sales representatives than Sun which means that a lot of deals, we aren?t even in. We are adding 15 per cent more sales people who will carry quota for both Unix and NT server sales,? Nick Earle, vice president of enterprise computing at HP, told VNU Newswire.
One analyst stated that Sun?s focus on Unix was winning it share in the server market, but that HP's recent announcement of the V2500, with up to 32 processors or a bigger Numa configuration, would help it compete strongly on performance. This attack on the Unix market was a significant turnaround and should show profitable results in the second half of next year, the analyst said.
Of the 260 staff being added to the sales force, 150 will be in the US and 110 in Europe. There will be a mixture of direct and indirect roles. Earle said HP was in the process of taking eight weeks out of its channel inventory, to get it down to a four week turnover period, which would be the guaranteed delivery time to customers next year.
Earle said in the high end Unix market, classified as systems with a value above $250k, HP was dominant with a 35 per cent market share. However, he admitted that the market for systems below $50k was being taken by Sun, particularly with a major transition in HP?s K-class range due around April this year. The K-class provides more than half of HP?s Unix sales so discounting over the next six months could hurt revenue significantly.
HP?s long term plan is to attack this part of the market with NT servers where it believes it can exploit Sun?s antipathy to the operating system. It is also targeting Siemens Nixdorf and Bull heavily in Europe, both of which it claimed would be out of the Unix market by 2002.
HP recently signed up South Africa Telecom for one of the largest Unix system sales ever, a very large value contract that included 26 V-class servers. It claimed it beat Sun in a head to head battle for the contract based on the long term viability of its Unix roadmap.
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