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Sun freezes hell, gets IBM to sell Solaris on blades

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Sun Microsystems has managed to nurture a blade server business, only it's on a rival's hardware. IBM today has become the first major server vendor - other than Sun - to ship Solaris x86 on its mainstream systems. (Yes, we know Compaq once sold Solaris x86. Thanks for the memories.)

IBM has agreed to sell Sun's operating system with its BladeCenter servers in "the coming months," according to an IBM spokesman. This is quite the surprise given IBM's contentious relationship with Sun. IBM's services organization, however, does do a large amount of business selling Sun servers and Solaris, which may have helped seal the deal. Sun killed its line of blade servers after a horrible go at the market, which IBM and HP lead.

Sun has long promised that a major OEM would back its Solaris x86 push. But up until now, the major vendors largely mocked Sun's Unix embrace. Jonathan Schwartz, president at Sun, was happy gloat about the move.

"Im pleased to announce we've signed up our first tier 1 systems vendor as a Solaris supporter: it's IBM, and their decision to provide comprehensive support for Solaris on Bladecenter definitely puts them ahead of the other blade vendors in offering a truly OS neutral product," he said in a globule. "As a result of our agreement, IBM will be adding value to BladeCenter, optimizing Solaris for IBM hardware offerings, adding volume to the Solaris community, and proving that the best choice for customers is, in fact, real choice.

"It sends a clear message to IBM accounts that Solaris is now a top tier option for BladeCenter deployments."

IBM sells a broad range of blade servers, including systems based on its own PowerPC chip, AMD's Opteron chip and Intel's Xeon product. IBM was quick to tout its impressive lineup and position as blade server sales leader.

"We also openly welcome Solaris customers as they transition to the IBM BladeCenter platform to help simplify and optimize their IT infrastructure," IBM said. "IBM BladeCenter provides the broadest choice of server platforms and operating systems to customers with Linux for x86 and Power, Microsoft Windows Server, AIX and now Solaris10."

IBM expects customers to run Solaris x86 on its Xeon-based and Opteron-based systems. Sorry, no Power port yet, friends.

The two companies have an existing arrangement around Solaris x86 where IBM sells its WebSphere middleware for the OS.®

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