Sun Execs Tout Recent Moves, Products

Sun Microsystems executives on Wednesday announced six new reference architectures and blade servers. At the event in San Francisco, officials plugged recent intiatives and technology deals.

SAN FRANCISCO—Sun Microsystems Inc. on Wednesday announced a number of new x86-based blade servers, including the Sun Blade 2500, the first multiprocessor capable SPARC 64-bit workstation for under $5,000.

Addressing a press conference entitled Network Computing 03-Q4 at the trendy Clift Hotel here in San Francisco, Clarke Masters, the executive vice president of Suns Enterprise Systems Products Group, also announced six new reference architectures, including a communications services firewall, Web application firewall, Web server, supply chain management, Tru64 migration and mainframe migration.

/zimages/5/28571.gifSun made a number of earlier product announcements in Berlin on this same day. To read more, click here.

He also touted Suns burgeoning relationship with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. as being good for customers. "We have a new and exciting relationship with AMD and you can expect to see a broad product rollout based on AMD over the next year.

"That relationship and the products we deliver will be complementary to our Sparc/Solaris x86 offerings. Were pretty excited about our relationship with AMD and believe it is good for our customers," he said.

/zimages/5/28571.gifCheck out eWEEKs interview with Suns Scott McNealy and AMDs Hector de Ruiz.

On the issue of Suns strategy with regard to Linux and Solaris, Masters said Sun was taking Linux and adding on the Sun software stack. It was also driving Solaris and Linux compatibility by providing Linux with Solaris extensions and Solaris with Linux extensions.

Sun was also making huge investments in throughput computing, and would be making announcements early next year on UltraSPARC 4, he said, adding that Sun would continue to offer the best, most-competitive price product, whether these were AMD- or Intel-based products. A four-way Intel box was also a possibility going forward, Masters said.

Jonathan Schwartz, the executive vice president of software at Sun, then took the stage. He stressed that Sun had gone from hundreds of software products down to six, including the Sun Java Studio, Sun Java Desktop and the N1 platform, which provisions and manages all the software components.

"Each product will now deliver and be updated on a quarterly basis, and we are using disruptive pricing to become the low-cost player in the market now and grow opportunities. We also recently signed a deal with China Standard Software Co. to deliver our Sun Java Desktop System," he said.

/zimages/5/28571.gifTo read more about Suns recent moves to bring its Java productivity suite to the Asian market, click here. Next page: High expectations for productivity.

As expected, Schwartz also announced a relationship with Electronic Data Systems, the Plano, Texas IT outsourcing firm, to provide migration services, training, help-desk and call center desktop services for Suns Java Desktop System.

EDS managed more Microsoft Windows desktops than any other company, Schwartz observed. "They are now in a position to offer their customers a choice. We continue to see demand and are talking to every government and their agencies across the globe," he said.

Sun did not want to be in the business of desktop support, and also wanted to make sure that as it approached potential new customers that it had a relationship with the company [EDS] that currently supported them, Schwartz added.

Sun will also be looking at tailoring its Java Desktop System to other user bases, such as the academic market, retail and others.

Some 50,000 users were also already signed up for the Sun Java Enterprise System, which was expected to ship in two weeks, company officials said. Sun had now also set an ISV pricing of $1,000 per CPU to embed the software stack, which was a third the cost of Microsoft Windows.

"Every ISV today needs to deliver their applications as a Web service going forward. In order to do that, they need to worry about things like directories and identities and clustering and the like. They are all now trying to manage and qualify against all of these. So Sun is giving them the whole software stack and letting them build their product around that stack for just $1,000 per CPU," Schwartz said.

In addition, Schwartz announced the early access of Project Rave, now renamed the Sun Java Studio Creator. Sun also had 100 customers who had leveraged its N1 service provisioning and management tool.

With regard to Solaris, the next version of which is due by the middle of next year, was making dramatic advances in performance as well as better monitoring and partitioning technologies.

"We are continued to pound out new innovations in Solaris on a quarterly basis to give customers what they want, which is choice," he said.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here for more information about upcoming versions of Sun Solaris as well as news on its new delivery program for developers.

Turning to Suns branded StarOffice product and Suns decision to support the free OpenOffice distribution, Schwartz said customers wanted predictability, security and manageability in addition to a low price.

Sun will also be taking aim at Hewlett-Packard Co. of Palo Alto, Calif. and its installed base, particularly given its focus on systems using Intel Itanium processors. Sun officials said that given the complexity of moving from a Xeon to an Itanium system, its Opteron-based systems would pick up the momentum.

"We intend to warn HPs installed customer base that they are on a very risky trajectory and that we would like to give them a safe harbor and upgrade path," Schwartz said.

Asked about Suns strategy around possible acquisitions, Schwartz said the company was always looking at "buying everybody" and was keeping its eye on the market in that regard.

Regarding its financial "woes", Schwartz said Sun had more available cash than IBM and a lot more than many of its enterprise customers. Sun would continue to focus on quality and scale and adding value through security the way it had done previously.

Masters said Sun had also made a conscious decision to double-down on its annual research and development budget so as to bring better products to the market.

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