Sun Microsystems Inc., seeking ways to add value to Solaris and give enterprise users more choice, has embarked on an ambitious plan to build all its Sun ONE software components into its flagship operating system.
The strategy, code-named Project Orion, according to sources close to the company, will take all the components of the Sun Open Net Environment software stack, including application, directory and portal servers; clustering; and other technologies, and integrate them into Solaris over the next few years.
In a departure from its usual mode of operation, the Santa Clara, Calif., company will also include Sun ONE on hardware running Linux and on non-Sun hardware. In addition, Sun will amend its software pricing model to be based on usage, instead of stand-alone pricing for each product, officials confirmed with eWeek last week.
"I have to do some out-of-the-box things that I havent done before," said John Loiacono, vice president of Suns operating platforms group. "ONE is getting on multiple platforms, supported on multiple platforms."
To that end, Loiacono said the company will support Solaris and Linux, even though all Linux versions are not yet standardized, on non-Sun systems. "Sun owns the intellectual property all the way up the Sun ONE stack; our value proposition is that we can ship our Linux or Solaris distribution with all of it included, and the customer pays only for what they use," Loiacono said. "If a customer is looking for an affordable solution on low-end hardware running Solaris or Linux and with the integration already done upfront, we will be able to provide that."
Customers would also get exactly the same software whether they were running Solaris or Linux on SPARC or Intel Corp. hardware, he said.
Customers welcomed the plan as necessary for Suns survival. Alan DuBoff, president of Software Orchestration Inc., a consultancy in San Jose, Calif., said it would make sense for Suns customers. "Application servers are fast becoming a much-needed entity in the enterprise, and making Suns app server part of Solaris makes it worthwhile to pay a license for Solaris," DuBoff said.
"My customers and I would be willing to pay to use individual software components as long as the price is the same or less than if it was bought separately. It simplifies system configuration," said Tim Sagstetter, president of Kernel Software Inc., in Wausau, Wis.
Suns Loiacono said the first wave of Solaris integration will likely involve the directory server, followed by the portal and identity servers.
Once the Sun ONE software is added, the focus will turn to integrating the components more tightly with one another. Some of this technology will be delivered in future Solaris 9 updates, Loiacono said.
Sun is working on the pricing models. "The platform edition of our application server in Solaris 9 is already free, the directory server is free for the first 200,000 entries, and the portal server will be priced in a similar fashion," Loiacono said. "The intent is to have customers receive every piece of software, integrated into the system, and then pay for what they use."
DuBoff said that the Sun architecture does not tie users into any specific components, which could easily be replaced with another vendors product. For instance, Sun last week agreed with BEA Systems Inc. to bundle a trial version of the WebLogic application server, even though it competes with Sun ONE.
"The bottom line is that people appear to want more open solutions," DuBoff said. "Solaris customers dont necessarily want to convert to Linux, and if Sun can provide them with that compatibility layer, I believe many will stay on Solaris, as they will be able to retain their current investments."