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IBM embraces - wtf - Sun's Solaris across x86 server line

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Sun Microsystems has nailed its biggest Solaris x86 win to date by lining up IBM as a firm backer of the operating system.

The two companies today revealed that IBM will offer Solaris x86 as an option on a number of its Xeon- and Opteron-based servers by year end. This arrangement provides Sun with its first real Tier 1 OEM partner on the Solaris x86 front. In addition, the two companies have decided to examine Solaris running on IBM's mainframes and even - gasp - its Power-based systems.

"Just pragmatically, there are a lot of customers that love Solaris and are loyal to it," said IBM's systems chief Bill Zeitler, during a conference call.

IBM's decision to offer Solaris on x86 systems proves surprising given the long-running animosity between the two companies. Sun has been a staunch defender of its Solaris flavor of Unix, while IBM has hawked its own AIX operating system. As a result, both companies have dished out fierce barbs over the years, celebrating the superiority of their respective operating systems.

Now we find Sun and IBM putting away their vitriol in favor of offering customers choice. IBM will sell Solaris with its BladeCenter HS21 and LS41 servers; and IBM System x3650, System x3755, and System x3850 boxen. Sun will provide the software support for the servers.

This arrangement builds on an existing deal IBM had in place to offer Solaris x86 on its blade servers.

HP too supports Solaris x86 across its entire ProLiant server line, although it does not have a support arrangement in place with Sun, which means that HP cannot offer patches and the like in an official capacity.

"Our relationship with HP is at arms length," Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said. "They are neither an OEM for Solaris nor can they sell service subscriptions to customers. The relationship with IBM is really the strongest we have with any partner in the marketplace."

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