HP choice limits Sun’s ambitions for Java site

Social Welfare's choice of Hewlett-Packard for the hardware platform to redevelop the core Swiftt benefits system means Sun will have to pull back from referencing the site worldwide as an end-to-end Java site. Sun had expected to get the server business, through SolNet, whose managing director, Murray McNae, says he's left with a certain amount of disquiet over the way the deal has been done.

Social Welfare’s choice of Hewlett-Packard for the hardware platform to redevelop the core Swiftt benefits system means Sun will have to pull back from referencing the site worldwide as an end-to-end Java site.

Sun had expected to get the server business, through SolNet, whose managing director, Murray McNae, says he’s left with a certain amount of disquiet over the way the deal has been done.

“We had gear down there since November while they were selecting the middleware,” he says. “There was never a suggestion it [the server business] was going to go anywhere else.

“A few months ago Miranda [Neil Miranda, manager of DSW’s information service coordination unit] said, ‘You’ll get the development order within a few days’.”

McNae says it became a price back-off and that Miranda had commoditised the order. SolNet originally proposed the E10000 but after the configuration was changed put up multiple E4000s. “There was never any problem with the architecture we put up,” McNae says.

But at the last minute, DSW chose the HP9000/V2250, the first of its type in New Zealand. Two will be bought for development, with a further four likely for production.

“Miranda bought on price pure and simple,” McNae says. “He came to us last Friday and said he had bought on price. There was no technical reason he didn’t go with Sun.” All up, for development and production systems and disk the deal is worth around $2.3 million, McNae says.

“Gary Lewis and a consultant, David Barker, who’s no longer there, were running the project originally. Their spec, according to Miranda, was way over what was needed.

“Because the project itself was not proceeding well Margaret Bazley [DSW chief executive] asked Miranda to get involved fulltime. That’s when he said it was all bullshit and we could do it with less gear. He downsized it.

“The price from request for proposal to our January configuration reduced by probably 50%. That’s when he asked Hewlett-Packard in again last month.

“I’m not that happy with the way this deal has been played out.”

Hewlett-Packard managing director Bob Cattell says the V2250 has a tpc-c rating nearly equivalent to eight IBM SP2 12-way clustered systems and that by the end of 1999 HP will have a single box capable of delivering 100,000 tpc-c’s.

“Our roadmap to IA64 is such that organisations like DSW can feel secure investing in infrastructure that will take them well into the next century,” he says.

The Java development of Swiftt will take place on the client side but C++ will be used on the server now till Java is robust, Miranda says.

The Swiftt benefits system handles $8 billion in payments annually.

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