Sun Shuns Big Database, Embraces Open Source

Vice President John Loiacono denies rumors of a major database move, discusses the SeeBeyond deal and gives more details about open-sourcing JES and Solaris.

SAN FRANCISCO—Sun Microsystems has absolutely no plans to create a large transactional database that would go head-to-head with those from Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, said John Loiacono, Suns executive vice president for software, speaking to media and analysts at a "town hall" meeting at the JavaOne conference here on Tuesday.

Responding to a question for more details on the "Sun DB" or database, Loiacono quipped that CEO Scott McNealy had created this fictitious code-name "to make sure that I lose what hair I have left on my head."

However, Sun Microsystems Inc. is responding to customer needs and is looking to do something in the database space, Loiacono said.

"What we are hearing from customers is that they want open-source database services, and we think we need to go and address those issues. But we do not think we can go and take Oracle on. Weve had some grandiose plans in our time, but that is not one of them," he said.

Loiacono also gave more details on the deal announced on Tuesday for Sun to acquire enterprise integration firm SeeBeyond Technology Corp.

The plan is for SeeBeyonds sales force to essentially become Suns SOA (service-oriented architecture) sales force, but as Sun already has both a sales force that calls and knocks on doors and a technical sales force, the company would like to see SeeBeyonds team form part of Suns existing sales infrastructure and be leveraged that way, he said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Suns acquisition of SeeBeyond Technology.

Sun is also committed to extending the JES (Java Enterprise System) platform with a sixth suite, the Sun Java System Integration Suite, Loiacono said, declining to say when that suite would be available to Suns sales force and customers.

Project Kitty Hawk, the SOA strategy Sun announced at last years JavaOne conference, remains on track, and all of the announcements at this years JavaOne event, including the SeeBeyond acquisition, are integral to that project, he said.

Loiacono also acknowledged that Sun had made mistakes in integrating some of its previous acquisitions effectively into the company, even going so far as to give a list of all those acquisitions it is accused of having made mistakes with, despite being asked by a member of the audience, "Do we have enough time left to list them all?"

"Yes, absolutely, we have made some mistakes in integrating some of our acquisitions into the company, but we are now doing things differently and we are being much more successful," Loiacono said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out a slide show from the JavaOne 2005 show.

Asked when Sun was going to get serious about systems management, Loiacono would only say "Stay tuned" before deflecting the question to Hal Stern, the chief technology officer for Sun Services, saying that addressing systems management was the primary reason why he had employed him.

Stern said that the company was "getting there" and that the open-sourcing of Solaris would see great tools delivered that will help improve systems management.

Systems management has gone through a phase where automating tasks became the domain of big suites like IBMs Tivoli and Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView, Stern said, adding, "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."

"I feel the pressure, as I have the grid guys on one side asking us to do it and threatening to do it themselves if we dont, and on the other side I have the market pointing out the other players and what they are doing on that front and the need for interoperability," Stern said.

Loiacono also affirmed Suns commitment to open-sourcing the entire Java Enterprise System stack over time, but again declined to give a time frame. But he did drop some hints about the order in which the various JES components would likely be open-sourced. "We have opened the Solaris operating system, which is at the bottom of the stack, as well as the pieces closely associated with that like the application server.

"Other components like the directory, portal, proxy and Web server are lower down on the stack, with identity access, audit and federation further up the stack. Those will be opened later," he said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Suns decision to release the Java Enterprise System stack to open source.

Some 70 new Solaris ISVs have signed up as a result of the open-sourcing of the Solaris code, while the number of hardware ISVs now stands at 430, which is more than for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, he said.

The open-sourcing of Solaris and the number of downloads of the code this year, some 1.7 million to date, have had a positive effect on the negotiations with IBM to support Solaris and the resulting deal announced in that regard, he said. Loiacono and other Sun executives also tempered expectations of a huge development community immediately springing up and contributing code and new technology to OpenSolaris, saying this would grow over time.

"Instead of just getting code coming in from the Sun developers, we are now owning this up to others, but the certification and testing process that is in place will remain exactly the same," he said.

"We believe that the model we have for JES is dead on and every CIO we talk to understands it. But once this is turned over to the line business manager, they have specific issues they want solved. That was why we decided to give other, more targeted suites. You will see some new, big deals this quarter that will move the adoption numbers significantly," Loiacono said.