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Sun brings native NT services to Solaris servers

PC Netlink/Cascade unveiled at last alongised NT co-processor card, reseller programme

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Sun has finally admitted that Windows NT exists by introducing PC NetLink (codename Project Cascade) to enable Solaris servers to provide native Windows NT network services. Sun's added value is, it says, that fewer servers will be needed by NetLink users. It will be shipped this month. The pricing lure is that there is an unlimited client license, "unheard of in the PC space", with NetLink listing at $1495 unbundled, but included with new one-to-eight CPU Sun Enterprise servers. NetLink will be incorporated into the Solaris server for Sparc and Intel platforms. The product makes it possible for Solaris servers to plug into an NT environment and provide native naming, authentication, file and print sharing. Sun claims this would increase the uptime of NT networks and consolidate multiple NT services with Unix into fewer systems. Sun incorporated AT&T's Advanced Server for Unix technology in NetLink. For Novell this is both good and bad news: it legitimises alternatives to NT, but competes in an number of respects with NetWare. It is likely, however, that the net effect will be a greater probability that alternatives to NT will be considered, especially on the network management side, with NT remaining as an application server. It also squeezes Microsoft's not inconsiderable pricing structure for NT. Sun also announced a SunPCi co-processor card with NT support (listing at $495) so that Ultra workstations can run Solaris and NT applications at native speed on a single desktop. Sun has at last detailed its new software reseller programme following its reorganisation and the AOL-Netscape alliance. Sun had separate strategies and sales forces for its business units, and needed to drop some older products. The new programme has three levels, starting with Software Reseller for desktop tools, the Java Web server, compilers and utilities: this level requires no formal authorisation from Sun. The second level is the Authorised Software Partner, which requires training and allows resellers to offer Solaris. The third level is the Authorised Software Enterprise Partner for all Sun products and of course requires a higher level of training. Sun is putting into place what it calls a grandfathering scheme to help existing channel partners to evolve to the new setup. Sun has not yet announced details of how the Netscape Solution Expert programme will be incorporated, except to say the new channel programme will it will come into effect this summer, with the unification of the Netscape programme "shortly thereafter". A key date is probably Sun's new financial year, which begins on 1 July. Sun intends to recruit Sun hardware resellers into the software programme, as well as recruit more VARs with the capability of selling cross-platform. It will be interesting how Microsoft responds to what would appear to be a significant challenge. All-in-all it seems to be good move for Sun, with probably enough time before the release of the long-promised Cairo, which seems to have become lost in the desert. Sun should be able to deliver a version 2 of NetLink before Microsoft can ready its first bug fix for Windows 2000. ®

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