Hewlett Packard acquired the Alpha range of servers when they bought Compaq who in turn had acquired the Alpha brand when they took over DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) back in the 1990’s.
The HP Alpha range of servers is based on the DEC developed Alpha processor and traditionally runs the VMS operating system which is renowned for both its security and stability. Not surprising then, that HP Alpha Servers became the first choice for many MOD and government departments that required the upmost levels of security and could afford little or no downtime. Tru64 UNIX was also introduced on the Alpha platform and the full range of HP Alpha Servers could run either OS.
Initially HP stayed committed to the Alpha hardware and their roadmaps showed support for the Alpha range and VMS software (now known as OpenVMS) past 2010. The HP Alpha Server range was subsequently dropped in favour of the HP Integrity range of servers featuring the Intel Itanium processor. OpenVMS was optimised to run on the Itanium CPU and hence the natural progression path for traditional VMS users was to upgrade to HP Integrity and run the later versions of OpenVMS.
HP embarked on a massive initiative to educate traditional Alpha users and facilitate an upgrade path to HP Integrity. However, there are still many niche applications that have never been ported to newer OpenVMS versions and these require older Alpha hardware that is still capable of running VMS. This has resulted in a number of Alpha users still requiring Alpha hardware and support services to keep their core applications running.
Few suppliers these days have the expertise and support for customers who still need these legacy Alpha Servers. Some offer used and refurbished servers and parts and are able to provide hardware and software rental along with hardware and software support. The cost of redeveloping software and purchasing new hardware far outweighs the cost of keeping a legacy server supported and running hence the market for legacy and used HP Alpha servers today.
Some of the services offered range from the supply and installation of HP Alpha hardware and software, rental services and on-site hardware and software support services. Rental services in particular, are extremely useful for temporary peak demands in business (where you may need additional processors and/or storage products for a limited period of time), office moves and hardware/software upgrade projects (where you need to run two environments for a limited period to facilitate switch over) and defined projects that only require products for a limited period.