Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems -- fierce competitors when it comes to hardware sales -- have announced an expanded partnership that will see HP become a key distributor of Sun's Solaris 10 operating system.
HP will distribute and provide support for Solaris on its ProLiant server and blade platforms and the two companies will also work on integrating Solaris 10 with HP's Insight software.
Sun previously signed Solaris distribution deals with IBM and Dell in 2007.
"This agreement represents a very important milestone for our customers," says Mark Potter, HP's senior vice president and general manager, BladeSystem.
HP users who want to use Solaris on ProLiant will now have "a single point of purchase and accountability", Potter says.
However, the new Solaris agreement does not pertain to HP's Integrity line of servers, where HP's HP-UX operating system "remains the preferred Unix operating environment to address customers' mission-critical computing requirements," according to HP.
The pact will have no effect on HP's deals with other vendors, Potter says. "We've always been about providing choice [for customers]. This is really about elevating Solaris to a strategic platform."
Solaris could no doubt benefit from the new partnership as it battles for share against Windows and Linux. But in turn, HP may simply have been hewing to market forces, according to one observer.
"This was largely about pragmatism," says Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with Redmonk.
"There are a lot of HP customers that want to run Solaris," he says.