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SAP pays Sun to keep Java on NetWeaver alive

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SAP is paying Sun Microsystems to keep alive early versions of its NetWeaver middleware running Java past its expiration date.

The world's largest provider of business applications will pay Sun to update and fix Java Standard Edition 1.4.2 for each and every customer running it with NetWeaver 2004 and 7.0.

The fixes will apply to Java SE 1.4.2 for Windows on Intel 32-, 64-bit, and Itanium, and Linux on Intel 32-bit and Itanium.

The agreement means you can continue using the five- and four-year-old NetWeaver 2004 and 7.0 without forking out for your own Java SE for Business contract with Sun. SAP has purchased a multi-year Java SE for Business Premium Plus license.

The deal means you'll receive scheduled security and maintenance releases, critical fixes, and ongoing support from Sun for up to 15 years.

Sun last spring announced it was ending free life-long support for Java SE 1.4, which launched in 2002. Updates and fixes for Java SE 1.4.2 ended last October.

At the same time Sun said it would charge Java SE 1.4 users between $10 and $12.50 per employee per month in order to receive support and fixes until 2017.

The companies Thursday did not release financial terms of their deal, but - on paper at least - it looks reasonably impressive for Sun. NetWeaver is SAP's web-services and Java-middleware platform created to simplify the task for in-house developers, ISVs, SIs, and consultants developing and integrating with SAP's sprawling applications.

SAP has been encouraging its 40,000 customers to standardize on NetWeaver, making this a potentially large deal. The biggest caveat in this deal is that it's not clear how many NetWeaver users actually exist, as not all SAP customers run NetWeaver.

The fact that SAP can afford to pay Sun to support NetWeaver customers suggests that either there aren't too many around, or that it simply has the money to easily afford such a move - unless, of course, SAP extracted some kind of hard discount from Sun, which is feasible.

That said, SAP did last year announce it will hike its support from 17 per cent to 22 per cent of contract value during the next four years. Maybe that increase was to pay Sun.

As for Sun, the deal appears to represent the successful culmination of its decision to monetize customers' use of a version of Java now seven years old. It's a strategy that promises to net more big users.

Java SE 1.4 was a major release for the Java family that underpinned major enterprise products such as application servers from Oracle, IBM, former BEA Systems, and - it seems - SAP. And it's a fact of enterprise computing that old systems never go away and they rarely get turned off.

A Sun spokesperson told The Reg that the company already had "dozens of customers who have already purchased Java SE for Business, with others in the pipeline." ®

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