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Sun Has Words For IBM, Red Hat - InternetNews.
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Sun Has Words For IBM, Red Hat

According to Sun Microsystems, the newly announced IBM and Red Hat Solaris migration initiatives are an "act of desperation" in response to the momentum behind Solaris 10.

On Tuesday, IBM and Red Hat unveiled a series of new initiatives, including their "Solaris to Linux Migration Factory," which are geared to help drive business away from Solaris and onto Linux.

"My reaction to this whole thing is that on a day-to-day basis, this is what vendors do," Chris Ratcliffe, Sun's director of operating system marketing, told internetnews.com. "We have programs in place to move customers from multiple competing platforms to Solaris. It's just what we do."

In Ratcliffe's view, the current IBM and Red Hat attack, "smacks of desperation" in light of the momentum behind Sun's recently released Solaris 10.

Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff disagrees that the new IBM migration initiative was an act of desperation.

"Desperation? Hardly. It's not even a particularly new strategy for IBM or Red Hat, although this program formalizes it a bit more," Haff told internetnews.com. "Sun has lost customers to Red Hat Linux. In fact that's the whole driving force behind Sun itself selling Linux and open sourcing Solaris.

"Is Solaris 10 a good OS and do Sun's Opteron servers offer great price/performance? Absolutely -- which should help it hold onto customers that it was losing," Haff added. "But Red Hat and IBM, individually or in concert, are clearly strong competitors."

The numbers on Solaris 10 are strong. According to Ratcliffe, there have been over 1.5 million downloads of Solaris since it was first launched. Eighty-eight of the Fortune 100 companies have downloaded and installed Solaris 10 and are using it somewhere in their environment. Sixty-seven percent of Solaris 10 downloads are on x86 and x64 platforms, while 33 percent are on Sparc.

"If you take a look at what has happened in the last three or four years from our perspective, I think the industry took a left turn and we took a right," Ratcliffe said. He explained that the industry moved towards cheaper hardware and there was no Solaris at that level.

"We recognized that as an issue, and we spent the last three years and $500 million of investment making Solaris as good as it can be at the high end and on x86 and x64," Ratcliffe explained.

One of the services that IBM pushes when talking about migrations as a competitive advantage is its multi-platform strategy. That strategy is partially supported by the chiphopper program, which helps port applications across the different architectures that IBM supports.

Sun has a similar effort in place but with an important distinction that chiphopper does not have according to Ratcliffe.

"Chiphopper doesn't guarantee anything," Ratcliffe said. "With Solaris you get two legally binding guarantees -- you get a binary guarantee and you get a source-code guarantee."

Gary Hein, vice president and service director for application platform strategies at the Burton Group, considers Solaris 10 a reason for existing Sun users not to switch.

"When you look at what Sun has done with SOLARIS 10, it's clear that they understand what's happening with Linux, and I think that they are really trying hard to stop the migration from Solaris to Linux," Hein told internetnews.com.

"Quite frankly, a lot of the customers that I talk to that are Solaris users say they now have a compelling reason not to switch."

The IBM and Red Hat Solaris Migration Factory is being driven by the fact that they now see Solaris as a stronger competitor to Linux in Hein's opinion.

"They're ramping up the tools and support to get the people that haven't looked at Solaris 10 -- that haven't really made that decision -- and try to get them over to Linux faster than what they were doing before," Hein said.