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New OpenSolaris distribution for developers

Sun launches products for web infrastructure on Solaris 10

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Comment Sun Microsystems has announced a new set of products and services targeting developers, startups, and internet companies seeking to build and deploy their web infrastructure on Solaris 10.

The three offerings are Solaris Express, Developer Edition, Solaris + AMP (Apache/MySQL/PERL or PHP), and an expanded Sun Startup Essentials program.

Solaris Express, Developer Edition is the first distribution based on the OpenSolaris project and provides developers an integrated environment for the development of applications for Solaris, Java technology, and Web 2.0 while supporting a variety of common x86-based desktop and laptop hardware with a simplified installation experience.

This release includes an improved GNOME-based desktop, Sun Studio 11, NetBeans IDE 5.5, as well as 150+ open source applications. Solaris + AMP offers popular open source applications that have been optimised for Solaris, including the Apache web server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, PERL, PHP, and Python, as well as other developer and open source technologies.

Sun is also posting "recipes for success" that feature systematic instructions as well as multiple levels of Sun services. The company also expanded its Startup Essentials program to offer an improved buying experience through streamlined, online access to Sun hardware, including Sun Fire x64 servers and Sun Fire servers with CoolThreads technology running the Solaris 10 OS or other operating systems.

Sun has now added Sun StorageTek modular disk arrays, NAS, and tape storage products to the program at deeply discounted prices.

Lastly, Sun also announced Developer Services that provide specialised advice for programming issues relating to Solaris Express, Developer Edition on a per incident basis with guaranteed response times through Sun Developer Expert Assistance Service. The service is available to all developers with a cost of $49 per incident or unlimited requests for an annual subscription of $249. Developer Expert Assistance Service will be available for Solaris + AMP stack at the end of February 2007 with full production support on Solaris available early this summer.

As Sun continues to reinvent itself, it is not surprising to see programs targeting constituencies that may not automatically consider themselves as part of the Sun faithful. Smaller, Web 2.0-oriented firms sound like the natural playing field for Linux, low-cost industry server, and the open source movement: something that by perception would not seem to be in the bailiwick of Sun Microsystems...or is it?

Judging by its actions, Sun's affinity for the volume server marketplace only seems to be growing. Its strategic relationship with AMD, and now Intel, illustrates a desire to reach the volume hardware platform in the marketplace. With its embrace of Open Source, especially with respect to Solaris, Sun has fundamentally changed its position in the lower echelon of the computing marketplace. However, simply rediscovering the x86 architecture is not enough, and Sun, to our way of thinking, has wisely taken many steps to make itself relevant again in this marketplace.

Startups and leading-edge companies, which encompasses most anything labelled Web 2.0, all live in a world of limitations, be they financial, human, market, or time-based. By packaging Solaris-proven versions of the most popular open source applications and tools, offering recipes for success, and backing it all up with a modestly priced support package, Sun has made itself germane to this market segment. Combined with the newly enhanced Startup Essentials program, Sun has taken this a step further and, most importantly, made its offerings affordable and financed in a way that matches the reality of the potential customer base.

While for many, open source may be all about the source code, the reality is that the binaries distributed are what are truly important. Solaris Express is not a listing of source code, it is a tested and support distribution of that source code that Sun is backing up with support. The Sun + AMP stack reinforces the value proposition by delivering Solaris-tested and certified binaries of popular Open Source applications.

While all of the source can be freely viewed, the value proposition is that off the shelf, the code works, and customers can focus on developing their intellectual property, not fuss about testing the open communities' product.

Driving the ecosystem around any platform is essential, as this ecosystem provides the lifeblood of the platform. In this instance, the ecosystem may seem to be a collection of freely available software issued for the betterment of society.

However, Sun correctly sees that without the solid commercial backing of a heavy hitter in the industry, this community will not thrive to its potential. For the target market, we believe Sun has done a fine job of making itself pertinent again to a market segment that a few scant years past would have likely dismissed the notion of Solaris and Sun altogether.

While there is much work and outreach to be done, we are impressed with the tenacity the Copernican company has illustrated under its new executive management and its repositioning of itself as a player to be considered by organisations who do not find themselves at the top end of the computing marketplace.

Copyright © 2007, The Sageza Group

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