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Sun Serves up New Pricing Strategy, Products

Sun Microsystems is focusing on the red-hot Asian Pacific marketplace to make its latest stand against rivals and launch some 30 new hardware and software products, plus per-citizen pricing models.

The company is hoping to bolster sales in its server division and on the desktop with announcements focused on Solaris 10, Java Enterprise System, Java Desktop System, RFID , identity management, services, storage and its N1 utility computing software.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker is scheduled to unveil the announcements Tuesday, June 1, as part of its quarterly update launch party, this time in Shanghai, China. CEO Scott McNealy and other Sun executives are framing their appearance as a discussion of alternatives to "fixed cost" computing models, as well as using Solaris and Java to deliver network services.

"To fully benefit from this new era in Network Computing, enterprises will need to shift focus away from managing disparate parts of the IT infrastructure," said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's newly-appointed president and COO.

"Servers, software, storage and networking will become increasingly simplified, self-managing and self-healing. They will be reconstituted as services -- such as CRM, collaboration tools, Voice over IP and video-on-demand -- that will translate into business value and competitive edge."

Sun's choice to visit Shanghai for its quarterly update announcements is no accident. The company made serious inroads into China's government in November with a Java Desktop deal and is hungry for more.

Sun is revealing 16 pre-tested reference architectures, seven of which are tweaked especially for Chinese business models. The company said the plug-in software packages cover topics such as disaster recovery, back up, security, and intrusion detection. After producing two or three a quarter, Sun now has 40 such profiles with execs telling internetnews.com to expect between eight and nine new architectures next quarter.

In general, China remains a hotbed of IT activity. Government statistics released in January 2004 show the country's Internet user base at 79.5 million putting China behind only the U.S. in the number of Web surfers. The number catapults the country ahead of fellow Asia-Pacific region country Japan, which has 56 million Internet users but below first-ranked U.S., which has 165.75 million Internet users.

Per Citizen Pricing for JES

To prime the pump, Sun announced the second release of its Java Enterprise System 2004Q2 along with a new per-citizen pricing model for federal, state and local governments that averages out to about $0.33 per person. The platform now includes support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Similarly, Sun announced half-off pricing for its Java Desktop System through December 2, 2004.

An Ounce of Prevention

One new approach is Sun's new Preventive Services package for the data center. Taking its cue from the insurance and health care industry, Sun is offering a subscription-based network services delivery model that identifies specific, measurable performance goals and offers financial incentives of up to 20 percent off long-term services subscription costs to customers who achieve and sustain their goals.

New Software to Help Track RFID

One of the hot markets for Sun has been its support for RFID in retail. This time around, Sun is adding its Java System RFID Event Manager; to process and filter information from RFID tags or sensors and its Java System RFID Information Server; to store and query RFID data.

New Identity Management Software

Sun released a trio of new identity software slated for release on July 1. The company said the technology in its Java-based System Identity Manager, System Access Manager and System Directory Server Enterprise Edition will let employees, partners and customers access to the company intranet using any number of methods (wireless phone, PC, etc.), with access only to pre-determined areas.

Sun Solaris: Now With Dynamic Files

Standing firm on its homegrown Unix variant, Sun debuted its new Dynamic File System for Solaris 10. The additions feature a self-healing, self-managing technology with improved scalability for storage.

N1

As the impetus for its software blitz, Sun bolstered its N1 utility computing platform with a new N1 Grid Engine 6 software that the company claims can increase throughput and the ability to manage up to 10,000 non-CPU hosts. The provisioning and virtualization software has also been tweaked for Opteron-based Sun Fire V20z Compute Grid Rack System. The company said the improvements make the software very palatable for enterprise high performance technical computing projects.

Utility Computing for Storage

Sun addressed its storage situation by simplifying its billing for customers with what the company calls flexible Data Center Storage "Power Units." As a hardware compliment, Sun is offering up its new SE9980 systems.

SPARC Gets Tough

On the server side, Sun is introducing its Netra 440 and StorEdge 3120 for the OEM market as well as the telecommunications industry and the government. The 4-way UltraSPARC-based systems are able to run for four days in 120-degree server rooms and other environments. Recent stats for Sun's server sales show the company losing revenue compared to previous years but gaining in market share. Analyst firm IDC in particular showed Sun outpaced all competitors in for volume level servers with 41 percent growth year-over-year, compared to 24 percent for the market as a whole.

"They are selling anything that they can make," Mark Stahlman, managing director of research at financial analyst group Caris & Company, told internetnews.com. "When they formally announce the 4-way Opteron box, they still won't be there. What they need is the server built by [retuning co-founder] Andy Bechtolsheim. They have reseller channels that are starved for these."



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