Sun to Divulge New Software Strategy

Sun on Wednesday to unveil details of its plan to build all its Sun ONE software components into its Solaris OS.

Sun Microsystems on Wednesday will unveil details of its new software strategy, code-named Project Orion—an ambitious plan to build all its Sun ONE software components into its Solaris operating system.

As first reported by eWEEK in late December, Sun is seeking ways to add value to Solaris and give enterprise users more choice.

As such, Project Orion will take all the components of the Sun Open Net Environment software stack, including application, directory and portal servers; clustering; and other technologies, and integrate them into Solaris over the next few years. The updates will be delivered once a quarter.

Jonathan Schwartz, Suns executive vice president for software, is expected to announce on Wednesday that all the Orion components will also be released for Linux and that the Santa Clara, Calif., company will now support Sun ONE on non-Sun hardware as well.

In an address at Suns 2003 worldwide analyst conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Schwartz gave some teasers about Project Orion. Describing it as "the new religion" and "integrated and open, simple, supporting interoperable standards, predictable and ubiquitously available," Schwartz said he expects Project Orion to drive more revenue over the next 12 months.

Sun will also deliver Project Orion on Linux, he said, and customers will be able to run Linux applications unmodified on Solaris. "We are setting the standard for interoperability throughout the stack," he said.

John Loiacono, the vice president of Suns operating platforms group, told eWEEK last December that "I have to do some out-of-the-box things that I havent done before. One is getting on multiple platforms, supported on multiple platforms."

As such, Sun will support Solaris and Linux, even though all Linux versions are not yet standardized on non-Sun systems. "Sun owns the intellectual property all the way up the Sun ONE stack; our value proposition is that we can ship our Linux or Solaris distribution with all of it included, and the customer pays only for what they use," Loiacono said.

"If a customer is looking for an affordable solution on low-end hardware running Solaris or Linux and with the integration already done upfront, we will be able to provide that."

Customers will get exactly the same software, whether theyre running Solaris or Linux on SPARC or Intel Corp. hardware, he said.

Some customers welcome the plan as necessary for Suns survival. Alan DuBoff, president of Software Orchestration Inc., a consultancy in San Jose, Calif., told eWEEK on Tuesday that while Project Orion "left many questions, since all of the components for the Sun ONE stack are not yet available, especially for x86," the move makes sense for Suns customers.

"Application servers are fast becoming a much-needed entity in the enterprise, and making Suns app server part of Solaris makes it worthwhile to pay a license for Solaris," DuBoff said.

Tim Sagstetter, president of Kernel Software Inc., in Wausau, Wis., said that "my customers and I would be willing to pay to use individual software components as long as the price is the same or less than if it was bought separately. It simplifies system configuration."

Suns Loiacono said the first wave of Solaris integration will most likely involve the directory server, followed by the portal and identity servers.

Once the Sun ONE software is added, the focus will turn to integrating the components more tightly with one another. Some of this technology will be delivered in future Solaris 9 quarterly updates, Loiacono said.

In addition, Schwartz is expected to talk on Wednesday about the need for a simpler software pricing model, which could eventually be based on usage, instead of stand-alone pricing for each product.

On Tuesday, Schwartz told the analyst conference that Project Orion will have a single, simple and uniform pricing model. All software will move to one distribution and three licensing models: traditional, predictable and metered, he said.

Loiacono told eWEEK last year that Sun was working on the pricing models. "The platform edition of our application server in Solaris 9 is already free, the directory server is free for the first 200,000 entries, and the portal server will be priced in a similar fashion," he said.

"The intent is to have customers receive every piece of software, integrated into the system, and then pay for what they use."

DuBoff said that the Sun architecture does not tie users into any specific components, which could easily be replaced with another vendors product. For instance, Sun last week agreed with BEA Systems Inc. to bundle a trial version of the WebLogic application server, even though it competes with Sun ONE.

"The bottom line is that people appear to want more open solutions," DuBoff said. "Solaris customers dont necessarily want to convert to Linux, and if Sun can provide them with that compatibility layer, I believe many will stay on Solaris, as they will be able to retain their current investments."

Finally, in an assessment of what has changed at Sun over the past year, Schwartz said Project Orion is now the new religion; Java is at the heart of Web services; there has been a massive uptake on Java phones; a court victory is pending on the desktop; Sun has introduced Project Madhatter, which will ship in volume over the next year; N1 is now available; and Suns software team is now leaner and aligned.

Schwartz said that over the next 12 months he expects Project Orion to drive more revenue; N1 to mature and be deployed; Madhatter to ship in volume; desktop OEMs to be engaged with Sun, and Java to grow "on everything."