Sun Systems Promise to Cut Customer Costs, Complexity

Sun is rolling out six new network computing systems that it claims will reduce costs and complexity for customers-and will be more affordable than its competitors' solutions.

Sun Microsystems Inc. on Tuesday will use its premier user show, Sun Network, to introduce six new network computing systems that will form part of the Sun Java System family.

CEO Scott McNealy and Jonathan Schwartz, the network computing companys executive vice president for software, will announce in their keynote addresses at the San Francisco show the six systems: the Sun Java Enterprise System, formerly known as Project Orion; the Sun Java Desktop System, formerly known as Project Mad Hatter; Java Studio, designed for developers; Sun Java Mobility System; the Sun Java Card System; and Sun N1 for dynamic and utility computing, which retains its name and branding.

"We believe that in order for the network to continue to grow, we need network computing infrastructure—the software—to fuel that growth," Sun software director Ingrid van den Hoogen told eWEEK on Monday. "We believe that its going to take a new type of system to do that, and so we are going to be introducing six new systems on Tuesday morning. We have reduced the cost and taken out the complexity for customers, who will get a more simple solution."

Sun will also introduce its new pricing model for these systems, which will be based on a per-employee basis. The Sun Java Enterprise System will cost $100 per employee per year. Customers can cancel at any time: If this happens during the first two years, they will not be able to use the system or any of its components. But, after three years, customers can do a perpetual buy-out and get minimal service like bug fixes and the like.

The first components to be included in the system will be the Directory, the Application server, the portal, the meta-directory and high-availability Sun clusters. Those will be available in November, and updates will be made every 90 days thereafter.

"Over time we will populate that further and will add more components and capabilities over the next year. We are also setting directions for things like peer-to-peer and grid, while provisioning servers and so forth will all be included over the next 12 to 18 months. We havent talked about many of these things as yet," she said.

All six systems will include not just the software but also base-level services and support, available during normal work hours, and training, the level of which depends on how many employees are signed up for the system. Premium service, available 24-by-7, will be available for $10 more an employee.

"This is an annual fee and can be canceled at any time. We are not going to audit customers, and we will use the figure for the number of employees each company has from their annual SEC disclosures. So if the company has added or reduced staff, we will only revise our numbers at renewal time," van den Hoogen said.

Next page: When the price is right.