Sun Plan: Free, Open Development

Sun Microsystems last week again challenged the industry-standard proprietary software development model.

Sun Microsystems Inc. last week again challenged the industry-standard proprietary software development model, announcing that it will make its Java Enterprise System, N1 management software and developer tools available to all for development and deployment at no cost.

Officials at the Santa Clara, Calif., company also reaffirmed their commitment to open-sourcing this software over time.

"You should expect to see us make an open-source move around some things in the N1 [management software] space next in the near future. This is not quarters away," said John Loiacono, Suns executive vice president for software.

Sun will also be integrating all of this software as well as the Solaris operating system into a new product, known as the Solaris Enterprise System, to give customers an open infrastructure software platform. The new system will include the open-source Solaris 10 operating system, including the PostgreSQL database; the entire Sun Java Enterprise System infrastructure software platform; the N1 management software; all tools for C, C++ and Java development; and Sun Secure Global Desktop Software, Loiacono said.

The Sun Java Enterprise System and the Sun developer tools can now be used at no cost on other multiplatform environments, including Windows, HP-UX and Linux, he said.

"We at Sun believe that anyone still dealing in the proprietary space is challenged as this open model is the way developers and CIOs are looking to position themselves going forward," Loiacono said.

Jason Perlow, a senior technical architect for open-source solutions at Unisys, in Tenafly, N.J., was upbeat about the moves. "I can tell you for sure that I will be recommending Solaris 10 to my clients who otherwise were paying for licenses of Solaris 8 or 9," Perlow said. "An ongoing support contract does not count as a new software purchase in large corporations. I have a large airline industry client that I will probably recommend Solaris 10 to for this very reason."

Michael Dortch, principal business analyst for the Robert Frances Group Inc., in San Francisco, agreed that the move is positive for customers. "With software licensing costs reduced to zero, enterprises can pick and choose where it makes sense to purchase the deployment, integration and support services they need, depending on specific business requirements," Dortch said.

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