Sun Microsystems pledges loyalty to Linux

Vendor aims to boost low-end market sales and entice developers to its own network.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  March 19, 2002

|~||~||~|Sun Microsystems will ship a range of Linux loaded ‘edge’ servers from the middle of this year. Also, the vendor plans to expand its line of Sun Cobalt Linux appliances, while participating more aggressively in the Linux developer community by opening up key components of its Solaris OS and releasing tools to help developers ensure compatibility between the two Unix derivatives.

The vendor claims that it’s newly found commitment to open source is driven by a desire to expand customer choice and ease integration between divergent systems.
The move should also help Sun cash in on the current Linux phenomenon by boosting market share in the low-end server space. The strategy is also designed to attract more developers to its own community.

“We are hoping that we can attract more developers over to the Sun Developer Network as a result of this [announcement]. People that are more Linux oriented will now consider working more closely on Solaris and Java as well,” says Amanda Cummins, marketing manager at Sun Microsystems in the Middle East.

Ed Zander, Sun’s president and chief operating officer, explained that “by adding the Linux community to the hundreds of thousands of Solaris developers, and the nearly three million Java/XML developers, Sun’s customers have unified access to the broadest array of innovation in the industry on which to provide services.”

To begin with, the vendor has released a Linux compatibility toolkit, called LinCAT, to help simplify the process of running Linux applications on its Sun Fire family of servers, and an application development tool, called ABIcheck, to help ensure compatibility between Linux releases. It will also make Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) technologies, such as the iPlanet Directory and web servers, Forte for Java development tools and the Sun Grid Engine, available to Linux developers.

Cummins explains that opening up Sun ONE should give the vendor a competitive edge against its rivals.

“If we sell the idea of Sun ONE, which competes head on with [Microsoft’s] .NET. Customers can choose whether or not they want to run Linux or Solaris. We are not forcing them to choose,” she says. In future, Sun will offer “contributions to the Linux kernel” while its upcoming Solaris 9 operating environment will provide additional built-in Linux commands, utilities, and interfaces.

While the vendor’s Linux drive in the Middle East will run concurrent to efforts in the US and Europe, Cummins has mixed feelings about just how successful it will be at the local level, especially in the short term.

Firstly, she explains that there is little Linux being run commercially in the Middle East while, secondly, the key targets for the initial server launch, such as service providers, telcos and ISPs, are not buying in bulk.

However, Cummins does see some potential for sales, because “the low-end server market is really buoyant in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”

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