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A brief note on Sun's Project Orion

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Project Orion, which Sun has implemented to unify its product release cycles, has been designed partly to appeal to independent software vendors. Sun wants to ensure that many companies are working with the Sun ONE applications and web services stack, offering specialist services that Sun cannot cover.

Sun Microsystems' Project Orion, which seeks to unify software and release cycles, will assist partners developing products as much as it helps end-users planning installation.

Software group executive vice president Jonathan Schwartz said independent software vendors (ISVs) would be able to plan and build products around a set of integrated software that conforms to predictable release cycles under Project Orion.

"[ISVs] want to know when they can roll something out," Schwartz said during a recent interview. "Where it's not about the features, it's about the efficiency."

Talk about Project Orion has largely centered on expected benefits to end-users, and the efficiencies they would likely experience of being able to predict upgrade cycles across Sun's software stack.

Sun, like Corel, Novell and Ximian, seeks to exploit dissatisfaction among customers over Microsoft's licensing in areas where they compete such as office suites or messaging.

They face varying degrees of success, with Corel now seeking possible acquisition while Sun was last week dismissed by one Windows applications specialist as "irrelevant".

Schwartz, though, re-iterated Sun's own focus on customers saying, for example, that potentially problematic security changes planned for Microsoft's Office 2003 and Windows Server 2003 would provide a further opportunity for Sun to snatch customers from Microsoft.

Sun's emphasis on partners, though, is designed to ensure that an ecosystem of companies line-up behind the Sun ONE applications and web services stack, offering specialist functionality where needed and filling gaps that Sun's own engineering efforts cannot cover.

This would potentially help drive Sun ONE against application and web services offerings from Microsoft, as well as Sun's numerous Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) rivals such as BEA Systems and IBM.

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