Sun Microsystems Inc. is wasting no time prepping to take advantage of any potential customer fallout from the looming battle between the SCO Group and IBM over Big Blues license for AIX, its Unix operating system.
SCO has said it will revoke IBMs license to ship AIX as it claims Big Blue has violated the terms and conditions of that license by giving its customers unauthorized access to Unix source code and for “giving away” parts of the code to the open-source community and Linux.
The 100-day notice period that SCO was contractually required to give IBM before revoking its Unix license passes this Friday.
Sun, meanwhile, is preparing to launch a campaign known as the AIX to Solaris Migration Program. The program and advertising campaign around it, due to be launched next week once SCO has announced that it is going to pull IBMs AIX license, is designed to offer concerned AIX customers a migration path to Suns Solaris version of Unix—for which it has a paid license with SCO.
“We will offer an initial consultation and evaluation assessment, which will be free. We are also looking at a shared risk migration model where we agree with the customer what a successful migration model looks like. They dont pay for it until we get there,” Larry Singer, the vice president of Suns global information office in Menlo Park, Calif., told eWEEK on Thursday.
An IBM spokeswoman told eWEEK the company believed its AIX license is “irrevocable and perpetual. We intend to try this case in the courts, and we intend to defend this vigorously,” she said.
A SCO spokesman declined to comment on what the company plans to do about IBMs AIX license once the 100-day notice period expires tomorrow.
Suns Singer said that customers who invested in Unix made a long-term and strategic commitment to the platform and that some are nervous and concerned about what the possible implications of the SCO/IBM battle could mean for them around both AIX and Linux.
“We are not going to be terribly aggressive about targeting AIX customers who may be getting anxious, but we intend to remind them that our commitment to Unix is rock solid and that we will be here for those customers committed to Unix or to those considering new implementations,” he said.
Sun has long had a Unix migration practice in its professional services division, dealing with product end-of-life migrations or those based on product uncertainty going forward, he said.
“As company lawyers, general counsel and others start raising caution about the use of AIX and even Linux going forward, we plan to be here with our Unix solutions and commitment,” he said.
There are two components existing AIX customers might want to consider before moving to Solaris, Singer said. The first part involves migration, which is relatively uncomplicated if the software package running on the AIX platform is also certified for Solaris as this mostly involves modifications to data connections and interfaces.
But where the customer has custom-built applications and a port is involved, the level of complexity depends on the layer to which it has been written. “Hopefully people have been wise enough to write to the J2EE layer as then it becomes really easy to make the port. When you begin writing to the operating system layer, there are then more things you have to take care of,” he said.
Sun is also going to offer to deliver a customer-ready system to migrators. This involves a free assessment and then, while the customer continues to run its AIX platform, Sun will work with partners in its iForce centers to move this over quickly once the conversion is done.
“We are also hoping that we can do this as an operating system expense for some customers rather than as a capital expense activity. With the financing options we offer, we can offer a pretty smooth transition without a big capital bump,” Singer said.
Sun is not worried about AIX customers moving to Microsofts Windows platform. “I am sure that those customers will have played with Windows in their datacenters before and that, by moving to Unix, made a decision not to bring it in.
“There are security, reliability and lock-in issues around Windows. People went with Unix and are so intrigued by Linux because they have alternatives and options. There are more than one Unix and Linux distribution,” he said.