Bundling with Subscriptions

By Sean Gallagher  |  Posted 2004-07-29 Print this article Print

When the systems were first unveiled in June at JavaOne, Sun president and chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz said they would be bundled with developer tool subscriptions as part of a promotion for the Sun Developer Network. Sun also auctioned off some of the first Java Workstations to come off the assembly line, autographed by James Gosling, Sun s chief technology officer of developer products and the "father of Java." The bundling of software and services with the new workstations is part of an effort by Sun to turn Dells business model on its head. "Could Dell do this [software-hardware subscription] model? Theyd have to deal with Microsoft to see who takes a hit on the margin," Healy said.
The Java Workstations are Suns first desktop workstations based on a processor other than the companys own SPARC line of CPUs since the 1980s. Suns early workstations were based on Motorola processors until 1987, when the company introduced its 386i, based on the Intel 386 processor.
A successor, the 486i—based on the Intel 486—was introduced in 1990 but was soon canceled; only a few ever made it to customers. "The big difference between those systems and the new ones," Healy said, "is that the [386i] wasnt very fast" in comparison with other systems of the day. The new systems, he claimed, are the fastest in their class. The Java Workstation W1100z set a new record for the SPEC CPU2000 floating point benchmark for single-processor machines. "We are beating Dells Xeon box by 140 percent," said Harmeet Chauhan, the product line manager for Sun Java Workstations. And unlike all of Suns previous workstations, the Java Workstations are certified to run the Windows operating system, according to Healy. While the systems come by default with the Solaris 9 OS for x86, they can be configured with multiple operating systems, including Red Hats 32-bit or 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux workstation or SuSE Linux. Users can choose to add a Windows OS as well. Sun entered into Microsofts Windows certification program as part of the settlement between the two companies in April. The biggest challenge to Sun will be getting customers whove already left the Solaris fold for Intel-compatible platforms to come back for its Opteron systems. If the Java Workstations fail to sell well, Suns workstation market share probably will remain in free fall. "This will be the first quarter that any first-tier vendors will be offering an AMD-based solution," Kros said. IBM also has an Opteron-based workstation on the market. "In short, its too early to tell, but by all indications, it should have a fairly positive response. It will definitely eat further into overall RISC market-share numbers." Check out eWEEK.coms Desktop & Notebook Center at http://desktop.eweek.com for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

Sean Gallagher is editor of Ziff Davis Internet's enterprise verticals group. Previously, Gallagher was technology editor for Baseline, before joining Ziff Davis, he was editorial director of Fawcette Technical Publications' enterprise developer publications group, and the Labs managing editor of CMP's InformationWeek. A former naval officer and former systems integrator, Gallagher lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.

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