RealTime IT News

More Open Source for Sun in 2005

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sun Microsystems is planning to open source more than just its Solaris operating system in the coming year, executives said Friday.

Jonathan Loiacono, Sun's executive vice president of software, said the Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems company is planning on releasing code from some of its enterprise software products to the open source community in the same way it has done in the past with Java-enabled projects like Project Looking Glass and Java 3D.

Of the five major software products Sun stands on -- Solaris, Java, Java Enterprise, Java Desktop, and SPARC -- only Java continues to be tagged as "off limits" by Sun execs. "It's the crown jewels," Loiacono said during a press and analyst briefing outlining Sun's customer-facing software portfolio leading into the New Year.

The programming language and SPARC processors are already open in one sense of the word that the architecture is readily available. Java's code is available for download but requires compatibility certification from Sun to be identified as the real deal. Sun has done the same with SPARC, which is used by Fujitsu.

That position could leave Java Enterprise and Java Desktop wide open for discussion and dissection.

"We have multiple options on the table but I'm not saying which one Sun is taking just yet," Loiacono said.

Sun has been preparing to open the source code to the Solaris operating system since the summer but has revealed precious few details on its process. The company said it would begin submitting parts of its Unix-based server OS sometime in January 2005.

Earlier this month, the company submitted its new Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) lending speculation that the Mozilla-based licensing model would also open source Solaris.

"There is no one license for all implementations," Loiacono said. "There is the GPL, NPL, CDDL and a host of other licenses out there. We are looking at a middle-ground governance model, but at this point, it is about starting a dialogue."

Already, Sun has outlined its structure for Solaris. Beyond the open source version, Sun has a free right-to-use edition that includes upgrades and patches but no support. The company is counting more on their supported service model, which could net them a continuing stream of revenue, granted that it signs up enough subscriptions to cover the more than $500 million spent in R&D costs.

Outside of shipping Solaris 10, Sun is also focused on disrupting the traditional software sales channels with their per-person per-time frame vision. Loiacono commented that outside of Sun's famous $100 per-employee/per-year structure for Java Enterprise System, the company is also looking at its relationship with Waveset Technologies to provide a subscription-based identity management model.

Loiacono said Sun is also working on introducing similar pricing structures for its N1 utility computing platform.

Loiacono said Sun's other growth targets for software include identity management, helping companies with government compliance, J2ME, Sun's OEM business, and a broadband-focused Sun Ray.

To that end, Sun outlined several of its thin-client technologies including new Sun Ray Server Software 3.0 and the Sun Ray 170 ultra-thin client, which runs over DSL or broadband connections.