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Sun pimps GMC's data center with JES

McNealy rides custom van to 1m user mark

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Sun Microsystems has almost doubled the number of subscribers to its JES (Java Enterprise System) program overnight by signing up GMC and its 300,000 employees as a customer.

After an impressive early run, JES began to languish with Sun adding few customers to the software subscription service. Then, however, Sun saw a 43 per cent jump in subscribers during the fourth quarter, reaching a total of 619,000 users. Now, this week, it has brought that total close to 1m by closing a massive sale to GMC.

"I love Detroit iron and my GMC custom van that I drive my boys in," said Sun CEO Scott McNealy, during a conference call this week. "Thank you, GMC."

McNealy is a Detroit native and attended a rival high school to Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. After years of confrontation, the two executives would later be reunited through a shared love of software - and $2bn in McNealy's pocket.

Sun sells the entire JES package for $140 per employee per year and also breaks up individual suites at a cost of $50 per employee per year. Examples of the packages include an Identity Management Suite, an Application Platform Suite and a Communication Suite. Sun has basically put together all the parts it sees as necessary for the middleware layer of a data center. (There's a comparison of the suites here.)

Analysts have praised Sun for pioneering a simplified software pricing model. Customers don't need to worry about per processor, per server or total user schemes. They simply pay for the software based on the number of employees.

But, as has long been the case, Sun has struggled to sell itself as an infrastructure software provider. A win the size of GMC will certainly help Sun's case.

Here's the mushy "we love Sun" quotation.

"The decision to integrate the complete Java ES stack is largely based on the success GM has enjoyed with Sun Java ES software components," said Fred Killeen, CTO at GMC. "It supports our objective of increasing the value of our development investment while reducing operating costs."

According to the data Sun has made public, the company should be bringing in around $100m per year from the JES subscribers. Not quite challenging WebSphere just yet, boys. ®

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