Sun Exec Touts Software, Pricing Models and Competition

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-11-13 Print this article Print

Sun's software boss Jonathan Schwartz talks up J2EE, Web services and pricing models. The company is thinking big, considering a "per citizen" pricing model for some governmental agencies.

Sun Microsystems Inc. will ship its Java 2 Enterprise Edition 1.4 next week, and the reference implementation of this will be its Application Server 8. Sun officials on Thursday also said they would next week announce the date on which its 64-bit Opteron portwill be available for the Solaris operating system.
They also announced that they were pursuing a new "per citizen" pricing model for the upcoming Java Desktop System, to allow government agencies, particularly in less-developed parts of the world, to distribute the system to their citizens.
"A reference implementation is a tool for developers to start playing around with the platform. Developers want the ability to deploy their applications and write to a standard. They can also take the code we provide and integrate it into their applications," Jonathan Schwartz, the executive vice president of software at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun, said on Thursday when he gave reporters an update on the companys software strategy at its San Francisco office. The evolution of the reference implementation as the core of the J2EE 1.4 product spawned from Suns desire not to have two products and to reach the broadest set of developers possible. Click here for more information on Suns the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) Basic Profile and the release of J2EE 1.4. "This, we believe, will put our customers way ahead of the game," he said, adding that this release would also mark the point where Java and Web services became one and the same thing," he said. The recently announced Java Desktop System was on schedule to ship in second week of December, he said, adding that the digital divide had not hit the mobile handset market. But it was impractical to assume that people would interact with the network the same way with a handset as they did or could with a PC. Sun was also considering a "per citizen" pricing model for its desktop system. "We are talking to government agencies around the globe about how we can provide them with a license that allows them to distribute this to their citizenry at a low to even no cost," he said. This could see the price of that desktop solution plummet to $20 or as low as $10 a user, depending on the volume. "Those places with structural impediments to spending large amounts of money on IT are the target market and offer a huge opportunity for Sun," he said. "North America has the least sensitivity to price of any nation on earth, and are the most reticent to consider a Microsoft alternative. In contrast, we are seeing a lot more interest from Asia and Europe in this regard," Schwartz said. Sun was in contact with many governmental organizations and was offering them the ability to breach the digital divide and provide a desktop solution to their "citizenry". Pricing would likely vary by the Gross Domestic Product of those countries. "We can compete quite effectively and aggressively with Microsoft and we are the low cost provider of that desktop and have pricing on our side. We own the stack and can price it as we like," he said. "I was amazed when Red Hat CEO Matt Szulik recently advocated that customers use Windows on the desktop, indicating that he firmly felt there was no opportunity on the desktop. Sun believes the desktop is an area of huge opportunity, he said. See here for more on Red Hats shift in its Linux distribution strategy. Turning to its Solaris operating system, Schwartz said this now had 180 systems in its hardware compatibility list and was becoming a volume platform. Sun also continued to innovate around security, with security services and partitioning at the core of the future of data services and security management, Schwartz said. Solaris 10 was on track to ship next August, across all the microprocessor support announced to date. "Solaris 10 will have zones, and each can deliver a single instance of Solaris. "So a single microchip could be running 17 different applications in 17 zones or partitions," he said. "Users will also begin to see a tighter integration of Java card and the way we view security. We are introducing the concept of least privilege and the concept of a super-user goes away. We will deliver an operating system in which there is no super-user; every privilege and access will have to be assigned," he said.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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