The Station has learned that Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz and Dell founder/CEO Michael Dell will announce today at the Oracle OpenWorld 2007 conference in San Francisco that the two companies will co-support Sun's Solaris and OpenSolaris operating systems in all of Dell's servers.
This marks the first time that Sun's home-grown, Unix-based operating systems will be sanctioned for use in any kind of Dell hardware. The two companies have been rivals in the server business for more than 12 years.
Dell already supports Windows and both Red Hat and SUSE Linux in its rack and blade servers. The new agreement means that Dell will test, certify, and optimize Solaris and OpenSolaris on its rack and blade servers and offer them as simply another choice in the overall Dell software menu. It also means that OpenSolaris will soon be downloadable from the Dell website.
The announcement today opens two new markets for both companies: Dell now can sell its hardware into both the proprietary Solaris development world and the slow-but-sure growing open source OpenSolaris community. Sun will get its software into numerous new systems and obtain a new gateway into the SMB (small and medium-size business) market through Dell's brand. Not many SMBs have anything of Sun's; this will at least start the conversation as Sun starts coming out with more midtier hardware.
The deal gives corporate developers the option of using Sun's bread-and-butter, Unix-based enterprise operating system -- which includes the very fast ZFS (Zettabyte File System) -- in Dell boxes, which are generally less expensive than most other servers and used in hundreds of thousands of enterprise and SMB systems worldwide.
How it will work: When a Dell rack or blade server is ordered, the option of installing Solaris or OpenSolaris will be available. If one of the two is selected, support for the system will be directed to Sun's online support organization through Dell. The support will seem seamless to the user, Rick Becker, vice president of solutions in the Dell Product Group told The Station last night.
The obvious question that arises is this: What does Sun get out of the deal? Dell will get the margins from selling the hardware, but ostensibly, Sun looks like it will be getting only service contracts from those who choose to use either of the Solaris options.
The Station is on it; we will ask Sun these questions as soon as possible today and get them in eWEEK for you.
Schwartz also will unveil Sun's new xVM, the company's open source virtualization and management platform, during the same speech at Oracle OpenWorld. Check out the eWEEK home page today for more information.