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Mad Hatter to be managed

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Sun Microsystems has put up a beta site for Project Orion and managed to trickle out a few interesting tidbits in the process.

Project Orion is Sun's big bet to increase the pick up of its infrastructure software portfolio by shipping loads of apps with Solaris at a low cost. The best indications thus far have the entire Orion stack being sold at between $100 and $200 per employee.

True to its word, Sun has prepped a lengthy list of software to send out with the Orion beta. Included are the following: Sun ONE Directory, Identity, Web, Messaging, Calendar, Portal and Directory Proxy Servers; Sun ONE Application Server Platform/Standard Editions; and Sun Cluster.

Several weeks ago Sun's CEO Scott McNealy told The Register that most companies would pay the per employee price for this software package; but he added that other pricing options will likely be available when Orion starts shipping later this year. The ins and outs of the different models have not been finalized, McNealy said.

Sun's beta program has not been finalized either. Sun appears to have posted the Orion info as a bit of a teaser. Users still need to download the software one piece at a time, as opposed to having it all neatly wrapped together with Solaris as promised.

Sun plans to add more and more software into the Orion stack over time, and one upcoming package appears to the the Mad Hatter Management Server.

Sun first described Mad Hatter as a type of PC loaded with Linux and various open source packages in a nice, pre-tested, pre-configured fashion. Sun executives have since said they scrapped plans to ship hardware themselves and will instead deliver Mad Hatter as a software-only product.

Expect Mad Hatter to arrive in its full glory at LinuxWorld next month.

Despite talking up the desktop side of Mad Hatter, Sun has said little about server management for the product or revealed its final name. The inclusion of the Mad Hatter Management Server on the Orion beta list appears to answer both of these questions.

Sun is working to attract corporate customers to its Linux desktop play by offering client software along with management products for its Sun Ray thin clients and upcoming WAN Ray kit.

Rivals have largely relegated Project Orion to the category of Sun's last software gasp. The server maker has struggled to tempt users with products such as its Sun ONE Application Server.

At $100 or $200 a pop, however, it's hard to imagine customers shying away from at least giving Orion the old college try. Most executives could empty out the cash in their wallets and have an Application server and clustering software by mid-afternoon. This is a nice change from complex per processor software licensing agreements that leave nasty $100,000 bills on the balance sheet. ®

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