Sun ONE Announcement Lacks Luster

Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Sun ONE software strategy announcement Wednesday was viewed as something of a non-event by many observers.

Despite lots of fanfare over a strategic software announcement, Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sun ONE software strategy announcement Wednesday was viewed as something of a non-event by many observers.

This response came partly because Sun had announced various pieces of its announcement last month and last week, stating with its Solaris 9 announcement in May that it would be giving away a version of its application server. And last week, the company announced Sun ONE Studio 4, a new version of its development tools, which plays a key role in the overall strategy announced today--along with the Sun ONE Developer Platform, of which the Studio tools are a part.

Sun said it would give away the Platform Edition of its Sun ONE Application Server 7, which will run on Solaris, Windows, HP-UX, AIX and Linux, said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of software at Sun.

The company is pushing its application server and tools as the Java option for building and delivering Web services. And as part of Wednesdays announcement, Sun said that its Java Web Services Developer Pack (WSDP) is available free for download at The WSDP consists of a series of tools for building and deploying Web services on the Java 2 Enterprise Edition platform.

In addition to the Sun ONE Application Server Platform Edition, Sun announced the Standard Edition and the Enterprise Edition. The standard edition adds operations management and other capabilities, and the enterprise edition adds self-repairing and fault tolerant features among other performance and reliability enhancements.

The Standard Edition will run $2,000 per CPU and the Enterprise Edition will run $10,000 per CPU.

Marge Breya, vice president of Sun ONE, said the company stands to make money by "upselling" to customers who take advantage of the free application server. She said Sun could capitalize on support and services opportunities.

Jason Bloomberg, an analyst at ZapThink LLC, a Web services and XML market research firm based in Cambridge, Mass., said, "I believe that fundamentally Sun is attempting a loss leader strategy – give away something at a loss to get people into the store, so that you can upsell them to what they really want. The problem with Suns approach is that the upsell is not particularly appealing."

Frank Slootman, senior vice president of software solutions at Borland Software Corp., Scotts Valley, Calif., called the announcement something of a yawn.

"They already announced previously they were going to drop the app server into the OS," Slootman said. "Giving it away doesnt make it go any faster. This is a tit for tat between Microsoft and Sun."

A spokeswoman for Microsoft said: "Suns announcement does not indicate progress in their software strategy and resembles the recent Sun ONE application server announcement. Sun is sending confusing messages to the partner and developer community - they are inhibiting the partner communitys ability to innovate; in particular, Sun is attempting to damage BEAs application server market. Sun is behind in platform adoption and is attempting to garner developer support by purportedly giving away software for free. Of course, a customer must still buy Solaris."

The Microsoft spokeswoman added: "Microsoft has delivered core application server technology as part of Windows since NT4, freeing developers from the burden of layering on complex software. Application servers should be transparent plumbing in the OS. Sun seems to be getting religion with regard to their imitation of Microsofts model."

Ron Schmelzer, another ZapThink analyst said he thinks Sun should sell at a higher level rather than focus on giving away its application server. Said Schmelzer: "Of course, the app server is becoming to get commoditized, so bundling it into the OS does make some sense, but then again the OS is even more commoditized. Will Sun really be able to create a viable J2EE-based app server for Linux? I doubt it. As a result, whats the value of a tight Sun HW/Solaris/App Server bundle? Increasingly less and less. Sun should sell much higher in the application stack. They seem to only be selling commodity goods nowadays. Who cares?"