Suns Java Plan: Free Servers

 
 
By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-02-16
 
 
 

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."

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