In a wide-ranging interview with eWEEK at the JavaOne conference here, John Loiacono, Sun Microsystems Inc.s executive vice president for software, also addressed the reasons for Suns decision to shift its emphasis away from its Java Desktop System on Linux to Solaris, and its plans for a next-generation system management offering.
The company has been talking about its Java Enterprise System and OpenSolaris, with its foundation of open-source technologies.
Loiacono said that customers are also looking to Sun to give them the ability to have database services tightly integrated with the platform, beyond what they get in the directory.
"They are looking for transactional, persistent data services, and to do that they are looking to us for a solution to that problem. Sure, they can go and plug in Oracle if they have a site license, but many are saying they want the ability to run some caseload, thats maybe 10 or 20 percent of their workload, on an open-source database," he said.
Sun will look at the existing open-source databases for a short-term solution in this regard, but is also looking at the long term, Loiacono said.
"So, what exists today might be very good for transactional-oriented areas, but for development you might want something very different," he said.
Loiacono did not rule out the possibility that Sun would develop some type of open database solution of its own in-house, saying, "There is no one hammer for all nails. We have a good idea of where we intend to go with this, but what we are not going to have is a single Sun database that will solve all sorts of user problems and that goes after Oracle," he said.
Loiacono also moved to address published reports that Sun is stepping back from selling its JDS (Java Desktop System) on Linux, telling eWEEK that Sun still fully supports JDS on the Linux platform, but is shifting emphasis, as the greatest future opportunity for JDS is on the Solaris platform.
"There hasnt been a lot of demand for Linux on the desktop, and so, while we are not de-committing to JDS on Linux in any way or saying that we will no longer support those who have bought that product, [in the future] you are going to see our investment in R&D coming in on the Solaris side," he said.
Sun will also now be focusing its JDS activities around developers on Solaris and on thin-client devices, broadening the market beyond developers, he said.
Asked if there was any more demand for Solaris on the desktop than for Linux, Loiacono said there was in the developer space. "Our desktop play primarily caters to what it is that developers need," he said, adding that the demand for Solaris has picked up.
"Now that we have open-sourced Solaris, we are seeing the community backing it and saying that it is a viable development platform and they are developing applications in that space, either native C applications or Java applications using Solaris as the foundation. Thats where Solaris becomes viable on the desktop again, for that class of client. Not as your general-purpose desktop," he said.
On request, Loiacono clarified comments by Hal Stern, the chief technology officer for Sun Services, who had been asked when Sun was going to get serious about systems management and replied, "If you think Sun is going to be the No. 5 vendor there you should start laughing now. Im not sure that is the way for us to go." Loiacono said Stern meant that Sun does not see itself competing with the mainstream solution players in that market, like IBMs Tivoli and Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView.
"Were looking at the next generation of systems management and we are not trying to duplicate what IBM, HP and CA are already doing. That would be a mistake. For us, the foundation of the next generation of systems management will be N1, and combining that with what we are doing with things like remote telemetry transmitted to system software. Thats the direction in which we are going," he said.