Hewlett-Packard Attacks Sun Market

While Sun Microsystems Inc. is reportedly preoccupied with merger talks, HewlettPackard Co. is attacking Sun’s prime market for computers that control traffic on the Internet.

Palo Alto-based H-P is already Sun’s chief rival in the market for UNIX workstations, powerful computers that are used for engineering design and scientific calculations.

But UNIX workstations also have become popular as “servers,” machines that control the give and take of information on corporate networks connected to the Internet.

On Monday, with rival Sun possibly still dickering over the possible acquisition of Apple Computer Inc., H-P unveiled a new server priced to steal sales from Sun’s Netra, the market share leader.

“With us basically not doing anything, the companies that sell Internet software tell us we’re No.2 behind Sun,” said H-P product manager Jan Silverman. “What we need to have is a focused attack against Sun to get some mind share.”

Silverman said no one has reliable estimates on how many Internet servers actually are being sold. But the prevailing wisdom in the industry is that the market is doubling each year as the Internet continues its explosive growth.

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