Suns Java Plan: Free Servers

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-02-16 Print this article Print

Sun Microsystems last week unveiled yet another program designed to lure developers to its Java-based enterprise development tools: Give them a free piece of hardware for a three-year subscription.

Sun Microsystems Inc. last week unveiled yet another program designed to lure developers to its Java-based enterprise development tools: Give them a free piece of hardware for a three-year subscription.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., last week announced the Java Enterprise Developer Promotion, available to its U.S.-based developer network community at a cost of $4,497, paid in three annual subscription payments of $1,499. The promotion, which ends June 30, includes an entry-level Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Opteron-based Sun server, called the V20Z and priced at $2,750, plus tools, support and services.

"Sun developers can now get hardware, software and development tools for a single, low annual subscription fee," said Jonathan Schwartz, Suns executive vice president for software. Schwartz said Sun is considering making a similar offer on its enterprise SPARC servers.

Reaction to the offer was mixed.

"Its a good deal. If I was still working for a startup in the United States, I would definitely try to get some," said Felipe Leme, an independent Java developer based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"Im confused by Sun once again," said Rick Ross, president of Javalobby Inc., in Cary, N.C., an organization that represents thousands of Java developers. "I have been so convinced by [Sun CEO Scott McNealys] constant mantra about metal-wrapped software that I have largely stopped considering what hardware I am running on. In fact, I have never even seen the servers we run the Javalobby network with. At this stage, I cant say I am strongly attracted by the inclusion of a machine, which, by Scotts reckoning, I should consider to be a commodity."

When asked about the fact that talk about enterprise operating systems seemed to focus on Linux and Microsoft Corp.s Windows rather than Suns Solaris, Schwartz said this applied to smaller-scale enterprises. He said Solaris on AMDs Opteron will change that—even on Wall Street. "The delivery of Solaris 10 [expected in the second half of this year] will offer faster performance than Red Hat [Inc.s Red Hat Linux], as well as logical partitioning and advanced diagnosing," he said.

Sun customer Bob Koenen, chief operating officer of law firm Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White LLP, in Washington, said the law industry is looking at enterprise systems. "Every office was a silo unto itself, with its own servers and networking," Koenen said. "We decided to move to a centralized data system, running on Sun Solaris equipment, and outsource our network services applications. This saved us some $3 million."

Sun executives last week offered an upbeat look at the companys finances. "We have stopped the decline that we were seeing ... quarter after quarter," said Chief Financial Officer Steve McGowan at Suns analyst day here. "We need a basis to stop the erosion we had and to start the growth for us to start to turn this back up."

Want the story latest news in programming environments and developer tools? Check out eWEEKs Developer Center at
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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