Sun Aims Open-Source Efforts At Competitors

By open sourcing its single-sign-on technology, Sun is looking to devalue investments by Computer Associates, IBM, and Oracle.

Mitch Wagner, California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

July 14, 2005

2 Min Read

SAN DIEGO--Sun Microsystems' decision to open source its single-sign-on technology is, in part, an attempt to knock the legs out from under Computer Associates and Oracle, which recently acquired identity-management vendors, an analyst says.

Sun will open source its Web-authentication and single-sign-on software, the company said Wednesday. One effect of the maneuver will be to drive down the price of the technology, which will put price pressure on Oracle and CA, as well as IBM, which has its own identity-management technology, says Mike Neuenschwander, an analyst with the Burton Group.

"If they open source it, they have the potential to pull the rug out from other companies," Neuenschwander says.

In March Oracle acquired Oblix, an identity-management software vendor. And Computer Associates acquired Netegrity in November for $430 million.

Sun revealed its plans here at the Burton Group's Catalyst North America conference, which was co-sponsored by InformationWeek and a sister publication, Network Computing.

Sun said it's open sourcing OpenSSO to help developers build essential authentication into the Web infrastructure and to build a foundation for future innovation.

"We're saying it's time for this basic, core security capability to be widely available so we can focus on other kinds of innovation," Eric Leach, Sun's director of product management for identity management, said at the conference.

Sun plans to make the open-source code available in the fourth quarter. It will be available using the company's Sun Common Development and Distribution License, which is similar to the Mozilla license and allows developers to modify the code without having to open source modifications. Sun will have two full-time developers working on the community it hopes to build around the project.

The software is the latest in a series of strategic technologies Sun has open sourced recently, including its Solaris operating system and Java Application Server, released to open source last month.

The single-sign-on product was a moneymaker for Sun, but not a blockbuster, Neuenschwander says.

John Loiacono, Sun's executive VP for software, agreed. "This is a revenue-generating product for us, but we would like to have it have more successful than it has today," he said.

Red Hat Inc. open sourced the Netscape Directory Server in May, reintroducing it as the Red Hat Directory Server.

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

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