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Sun Takes A Shine To Windows

As part of an effort to expand its presence on x86-based platforms, Sun Microsystems later this year plans to deliver front-line support for customers running Windows on Sun systems.
As part of an effort to expand its presence on x86-based platforms, Sun Microsystems later this year plans to deliver front-line support for customers running Windows on Sun systems.

Sun doesn't expect to bundle Windows on its systems itself. Instead, Sun sees that as an opportunity for channel partners, which are better able to support those customers once the company rolls out new systems designed with Windows in mind.

"We would love to grow a lot of our Windows sales. And we want to do that with our channel partners and integrators, while Sun field salespeople focus on Solaris," said John Fowler, executive vice president for Sun's Network Systems Group. "Today, we don't sell Windows or provide front-line support, but we are working on that. We will rely on channel partners to resell Windows on Sun platforms."

Fowler said he doesn't think Sun will need to sell Windows directly to be successful. "Most of our customers today already participate in the Microsoft Software Assurance program. So getting Windows from Sun is not as important, and channel partners are looking at providing Windows support as well," he said. "In reality, qualification, management, interoperability, performance benchmarking and support are much more important for our initial target market."

As part of this initiative, Sun and Microsoft on Thursday also showcased system management interoperability between Sun systems and systems running Windows.

Sun on Thursday also launched its first dual-core processor system, the Sun Fire V40z, which integrates four dual-core processors to create an eight-way server. The system consumes 42 percent less power than an equivalent Intel-based system while offering nearly three times the performance of an equivalently priced Intel system, the company said. Plans call for the product to ship in May at a price of $38,995.

This summer, Sun also plans to unveil a new generation of systems, code-named Galaxy, that initially will be based on AMD processors and are built from the ground up to run Solaris, Linux and Windows under a new systems-management architecture that Sun is developing, Fowler said.

"Upcoming systems have a lot of work going on to make sure that regardless of whether you are running Linux, Windows or Solaris, you get great systems management," Fowler said. "We're working on a next generation of systems using AMD that are rack-mount servers that should be out in the summertime. They are entirely new designs that run from two sockets up to 38 sockets. They are a family of products that share a lot of operational and serviceability similarities." Sun also plans to deliver a Sparc-based family of rack-mount servers based on those designs, he added.

So far, Sun has 1,600 customers for its AMD-based systems, and the company is seeing customers buying additional AMD-based Sun systems at rate of 60 percent each quarter, according to Fowler. He noted that Sun aims to be extremely price competitive in the x86 space to increase its footprint in that market segment.

"Right now, we're not as focused on margin as we are building a customer base," Fowler said. "When people think of x86, we want Sun to be on the list. But we're not there yet, to be perfectly honest."