Solaris Gets Shanghai Surprise

Sun promises a new Java Desktop System and RFID software, and takes early steps in making Solaris open source.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

June 8, 2004

3 Min Read

For years, analysts and other observers have been begging, pleading with Sun to stop its holy war with Microsoft and start focusing more on software. It seems the troubled company is finally listening.

After making peace with its arch-nemesis in Redmond, Sun Microsystems recently had former software czar and newly promoted president and COO Jonathan Schwartz announce a slew of software initiatives at its quarterly product update, this time in Shanghai, China.

Perhaps the most titillating news was that Sun was beginning to consider making its Solaris operating systems open source. While Sun has given academics and some companies a look at Solaris code in the past, a move to open source might bring more collaboration to the development process, which could mimic the Java Community Process.

So far, details have been scarce, and Sun says it's only in a "development phase" of the project. Amid lukewarm reactions from customers worried about changes in Sun licensing agreements, it remains unclear when, if ever, Solaris would actually make the transition. And because of intellectual property concerns, Sun would likely continue to keep final control of the code for itself, as with Java.

More details were available concerning announcements about the second iterations of both Java Enterprise System and Java Desktop System. Taking a cue from Microsoft and Symantec, Sun has decided to lower prices for the Java Enterprise System in developing countries; it will tie the per-person price of the identity-management software to the United Nations' ranking for the country's development. The poorer the country, the cheaper the price.

Sun also announced an innovative pricing scheme for what it calls Sun Preventative Services based on the customer's enterprise data center deployment. A key element of the service is Sun Net Connect, a Web-based system management tool that lets IT folks self-monitor systems and software. Plus, Sun announced its first radio frequency identification (RFID) software package to help manage the data flow for RFID systems.

Even a hardware deal with Fujitsu has software implications, as Sun CEO Scott McNealy noted that it would free up more R&D money for software and services. Software might not yet be king at Sun, but it's looking like an heir apparent.

Sun Product Rollout Features Services, Storage-InformationWeek
Among the new offerings is a subscription-based Sun Preventative Services that brings together more than 100 different services in one portfolio.

Sun, Fujitsu To Co-Develop Systems - CRN
The Fujitsu deal will let Sun shift UltraSPARC R&D funds to other areas, including software, storage and services.

Open Source Java Implementation Nears Completion
- TechWeb
The Apache Geronimo Java effort has been upgraded to an official project, with the goal of producing an open-source-certified implementation of the Java 2 Platform.

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