Suns McNealy Plugs Service Model, Open Solaris

When it comes to open-sourcing Solaris 10, the company will "have to explain it when we do it," Sun CEO Scott McNealy says in an interview at the Gartner Symposium.

ORLANDO, Fla.—In an exclusive interview with at the Gartner Symposium and ITxpo here, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy talked about Suns new service business model, the open-sourcing of Solaris, and Suns acrimonious partnership with Red Hat.

Talking about Sun Microsystems push for its customers to move to a subscription-service model, McNealy said, "People are still locked into proprietary systems and dont want to make a jump."

"They want security, but we can give them security with Java card authentication. The want control, but remember when we all had answering machines? Now, look," he said, pointing at a cell phone, "we all use voice mail. People got over it with voice mail. Theyll get over it with remote desktop."

"Say I poured a drink over your laptop," McNealy said. "Youd lose all your data, right? But if your writing was already in a SPARC mainframe, youd never lose data. In time, well overcome all those old fears."

As for resellers who base their business model around selling Solaris and SPARC, McNealy said they represent a dying breed.

"There are very few of those left," McNealy said. "Weve been telling them for years you need to sell services as well as boxes. Most of our major partners, like EDS, have long understood that, and now the others are all learning it as well."

"Most of the VARs [value-added resellers] understand that they have to add more services than just shifting boxes, and the local partners are figuring it out."

/zimages/3/28571.gifSun Java workstations are leaving SPARC behind. Click here to read more.

As for open-sourcing Solaris, The SCO Group Inc. consistently has said Sun does not have the rights under its contracts to open-source Solaris. So, how does Sun propose to open-source Solaris 10?

"Well have to explain it when we do it," McNealy said.

And is Sun considering buying SCOs Unix IP (intellectual property) rights or the company itself? "Youll be first to know," McNealy said.

Before open-sourcing Solaris, "Well launch Solaris 10 first. As it is now, the source code has always been available to anyone who needs it. Its in academia."

Indeed, McNealy said, "Many people dont want Solaris to be open source. Developers love the idea. The CIOs dont like it. Were doing this for the developers." Theyre the ones, he said, who "still drive a huge amount of business."

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about Suns plans for Solaris 10.

As for Suns competition, McNealy said he thinks Suns newly announced grid system is better than its competition for companies that want utility-based computing. He said the systems open standard base makes it work and play well with programs from other companies.

"You can pull out our parts and put in the ones you want," he said. "You can take out our Web server and put Apache in if you want. With IBM, you get a complete hardware/software box, but its a sealed box."

McNealy said IBM is Suns main target, but Hewlett-Packard Co. isnt a primary one. "HP isnt really a major target; theyre really not in the same business. They make televisions, they make cameras, they make printer cartridges," he said. "They dont offer complete IT solutions. Only IBM and Sun do that."

As for Red Hat Systems Inc., a company that is a Sun partner and also a rival to Sun, McNealy first spells out: "Our partnership is we certify out Intel and AMD machines to run Red Hat. We do that. We make sure that our Java platform runs on Red Hat. And well install it on our x86 servers if customers ask for it. I dont think Red Hat wants to see that change."

"Were partners there, but rivals elsewhere," he said. "Well install three first-tier environments: Windows, Red Hat Linux and Solaris. Solaris is the best of them."

When it comes to Red Hat and Suns public statements—especially those of Sun president and chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz on his blog—McNealy said, "Were pointing out the facts."

"We have indemnification [for the operating system] and they dont; its a fact. Our software stack goes faster; its a fact," he said. "We have DTrace [a comprehensive dynamic tracing operating system framework], and they dont."

As for Suns frequent declaration that RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) is not Linux, McNealy said some open-source people would agree with Schwartzs argument.

"I have a hard time disagreeing with Jonathans blogs; I like his logic and blogs," he said. "They wont let me start a blog. It would be very well-read, but I have to play a little bit more like Switzerland."

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.