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.
The Price Is Right
Sun has already signed up a number of customers van den Hoogen said, showing them that its solution is more affordable than anything from its competitors. The price is also compelling versus buying the individual components from Sun, she said.
“We understand that there are organizations that may, say, only have 500 employees and no customers on the Web. In that case, this is probably not the product for them. But if you are a large service provider or telco and servicing millions of customers, then this is an outstanding deal for you,” she said.
Because of the annual renewal nature of this revenue stream, this has the potential to generate a sustainable, quantifiable revenue flow for the company, something that would be looked at positively by Wall Street financial analysts, partners and customers.
In another move away from past traditions, Suns entire sales force, including its direct and indirect channels, will now have the ability to sell the entire system. In the past, the company had restricted certain products to certain channels, including its own sales force.
“Looking at the number of employees our current top customers have, were talking about close to 100 million. If you multiply that by $100, you can see the potential here. Im not saying thats going to happen the first year, but every existing Sun customer is a potential Java Enterprise System customer, and there are also potential new customers interested in the system,” van den Hoogen said.
Another advantage of the system is that Sun has integrated out complexity on the system level, with all the components integrated together. It will run on Solaris with SPARC, x86 and Linux, although the Linux distribution will lag Solaris by a quarter, she said.
The product has just gone to beta, she said, adding that customers can order it now, but it wont ship until November.
The Alternative Desktop
The Sun Java Desktop System, the companys “alternative desktop” strategy, is also priced at $100 per user per year and includes service, support, software and training. This desktop is based on open source software from GNOME to Mozilla, StarOffice, Ximian Inc.s Evolution and Linux. But van den Hoogen declined to say what standard version of Linux will be used, adding that this will not be announced this week.
While there will be no volume discounts, customers who buy the Java Enterprise System and want the Java desktop solution as well can get it for an additional $50 per employee per year. “So, for $150 a year, customers get solutions for the server and desktop,” she said.
Sun has simplified “every facet—all the integration, all the pricing. This is an integrated and integratable solution. Its also a single SKU, which simplifies the order process,” she added. Many of its customers are running a range of legacy systems, and Sun does not expect them to just throw those out overnight. “This is another option for them over time. It is not our goal to declare that ours is the only way,” van den Hoogen said.
The Java Studio system, which is the new name for all the developer tools, will come in an Enterprise Edition, the development environment for developers to develop to the Java Enterprise System. There will also be a desktop version. Pricing for the Enterprise Edition is expected to be around $2,000 a seat; if the customer buys the Java Enterprise system, the cost would be an additional $5 per employee.
At this time, Sun is only giving directional guidance around its plans for the Java Mobility System, which is targeted at the major carriers and content providers, as Java is pervasive in that space. The same applies to the Sun Java Card System, which is already being used by some 500,000 people globally; Sun is now putting together a system for them, she said.
“But the pricing for these and what is in them will not be announced now, but further details can be expected within the next three to six months,” she said.
Sun on Tuesday will also announce Sun N1 CenterRun. Executives will talk about the cost-savings that the more than 60 N1 customers, including Cingular Wireless and VeriSign, have already had by moving to the N1 model, van den Hoogen said.
Discuss this in the eWeek forum.