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Sun Microsystems has finalized a plan to put more pressure on rivals by porting its entire JES (Java Enterprise System) software line to the HP-UX and Windows operating systems.

Bits and pieces of JES - a package that includes an app server, directory server, clustering software and 11 other items - already run on Windows. Sun, however, has now vowed to have the whole enchilada running on Windows and HP-UX by January. This means customers with a mix of hardware can now pick up JES for $100 per employee on the majority of their gear. Sun has also tested parts of JES on AIX but has refused to confirm an IBM attack is in the works.

Sun has developed somewhat of a bad reputation for being late with software products, but the company assures us the JES package for HP-UX and Windows will be on time.

"The work has been going on for quite awhile," said Stephen Borcich, a JES marketing executive at Sun. "This is not an insurmountable task, and the work is well underway."

Sun insists that early JES customers pushed the company to support the HP and Microsoft operating systems. Sun has over 300,000 employees subscribed to the JES model thus far. The vast majority of these customers are running the software on Solaris for UltraSPARC, but Sun already offers JES for both Solaris x86 and Linux as well.

And to help push JES along, Sun has also announced a promotion where it will give new subscribers a free two-processor Opteron server and free copy of Solaris. Sun really gets excited about this particular promotion for reasons unknown. Free kit is always nice, but a $4,000 box isn't all that fantastic when you're already shelling out thousands upon thousands for JES. But, hey, the only servers other vendors give away are Itanium boxes, and who wants one of those?

Sun upgraded its Opteron server line yesterday, and Sun's volume server chief John Fowler vowed that all is going well on the x86 front.

Sun had initially planned to release the systems sooner, but pushed back the launch "to turn up" the volume of kit produced, Fowler said. Sun has shipped its V20z two-processor box to 324 different customers in 41 countries with financial services companies and telcos - Sun's bread and butter - being the most hungry buyers.

Sun is looking at some creative ways to drive higher margins on the x86 kit, Fowler said. Sun, for example, put an Opteron box signed by CEO Scott McNealy up for sale on eBay.

"We're testing a bunch of signatures to see which one can add the most margin," Fowler said.

We suggested that Sun recruit former chief scientist Bill Joy to write "The goo will get you" on a box, but Fowler laughed off this proposal.

Fowler refused to commit to delivering a system based on Intel's x86-64-bit Nocona processor.

"We are still evaluating that product, but will not be part of the main launch," he said.

Sun has been chided for not taking the x86 market seriously enough in the past, and ignoring Intel could be yet another misstep. Intel is a trusted name in the data center, unlike rival AMD which is trying to establish itself as a serious player with Opteron.

"We have just not found the Intel brand awareness to be worth a lot," Fowler said. "In fact, it's working the other way around. Customers are asking for Opteron." ®

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