The third part of the change is that we started out by embracing AMD and, more recently, by entering into a business and technology agreement with Intel as we embraced x64. What that does for us is that it allows us to go to customers and say if you want to run Windows or if you want to run Linux, Sun can still be your provider and thats a much more diverse view than what we had in the past, which was sort of its just our technology and no one elses. The Windows OEM agreement is fundamentally about adding to the appeal that Sun has across different segments and getting rid of the religion and being more practical to the customers needs and hopefully building on six consecutive quarters of growth.Where is the Microsoft and Sun agreement now? The x64 platform has been certified for Windows since the very beginning so we are part of [the Windows certification process] and we actually have a lot of people that run Windows. They may have their own site licenses, for example, or they may have it through a channel partner, so what the Windows OEM agreement changes is the business engagement and the technology engagement between Microsoft and Sun. That means that we will go directly to customers and say if you want to run Windows on a Sun platform, we help you go run that, and we will work together on business engagements. What has been the response to the agreement with Intel and do Sun customers have a preference between AMD and Intel? The agreement with Intel is in two general areas. The first is Intel working on Solaris and enhancing Solaris and endorsing Solaris, and the first customer reactions were that they were very excited about this. The fact that Intel is on board with Solaris is a big deal, so we get a lot of feedback on how that was a missing piece of the puzzle. [Customers] could run Solaris on whatever platform that they wanted, but if [they] wanted an Intel endorsement or [its] technical help, it was kind of the missing thing. In terms of the hardware platform themselves, Sun customers have a bias one way or the other based on their applications or prior experience. They want one or another and it helps having both to help take that issue off the table. If you go to [customers] and, for whatever reason, they like AMD or they like Intel, we are not locked out. The other thing that customers like is that they have a choice. That is if one microprocessor supplier gets ahead or behind or one has better pricing, choosing Sun does not preclude them from taking advantage of that technology. Obviously, we just announced the [Intel] rack-mounted servers and I cant point and say, Wow we have sold a huge quantity of systems because they are just out in the market, but the reaction from customers has been really positive. What is the future of Suns blade business and what is the companys approach? We just introduced a number of new products, so its a little early to say for sure, but it is going well and we have something for everyone. In terms of what is going to happen over time, thats a little harder to say. One of the things that we have done thats a little different than the competition is that we continue to invest heavily in rack-mount computing, which is the bulk of the marketplace. Its less clear what Hewlett-Packard and IBM are willing to do. We also unified the systems management and the architecture between our blades and our racks, so that we force you to make a choice there. If you want a mix in your environment, with some of our blades and some of our racks but want to manage them all as one, cohesive whole, we allow you to do that. What happens next? So if you look at the last two years, we did major upgrades to the UltraSPARC line, and we introduced the complete APL [Advanced Products Line], Niagara and now Niagara 2. Then we also introduced the Intel and AMD products, so we are cooking on all cylinders on the product front, and you are going to see that continue. There will be a steady drumbeat of product announcements over the next year or two. The other side is that we are looking to broaden our appeal and the Microsoft OEM agreement does that. We are able to cover a broader range of segments and this is increasing the interest of channel partners, system integrators and others. It also allows them to look at Sun in a different way. You are going to see us announce relationships with system integrators and other people who are predominately geared toward Windows and those technologies. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
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