RealTime IT News

Sun Offers Java Enterprise Support For Rivals

Sun Microsystems is making good on its promise to support as many operating systems as possible for its Java Enterprise System (JES).

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker revealed its plans Tuesday to offer separate versions of its JES platform that will run on Windows and HP-UX operating systems running on PA-RISC enabled processors. Sun said it should finish field-testing and training with its iForce partners by October and release the two new additions by January.

After debuting JES six months ago on Solaris, Sun quickly followed up with an x86 version. Last month, Sun launched its Linux (Red Hat Advanced Server) version of JES.

JES is the heart of Sun's Web services strategy and is currently central to the company's new subscription-based pricing foray. Sun said it would continue to offer JES at USD$100 per employee per year. The software stack is pre-integrated into the majority of Sun's hardware and benefits from a quarterly update release cycle. Formerly known as Sun ONE middleware and developer products, the stack includes Portal, Communication and Collaboration, Network Identity, Application and Web, Availability and Security services.

"Extending the Java Enterprise System for deployment on non-Sun branded hardware, at no additional cost, injects the novel subscription pricing model and mid-tiers solution packaging approach into the server OEM space," said Dana Gardner, Senior Analyst, Application Infrastructure and Software Platforms, Yankee Group. "The likely effect is that, as the costs-benefit analysis becomes clear, enterprise buyers will pull this up through the channel. And that will encourage server makers to offer it on their hardware, which further enhances the value chain reaction."

Stephen Borcich, executive director of marketing, Java Enterprise System and Security at Sun, said Sun should see a short-term boost with the new versions of JES because sales cycles usually rotate in three-month cycles up to six or more months. He said Sun was successful in producing the Windows and HP-UX versions because it took an independent software vendor's (ISV) approach to the job.

The company also primed the pump this week with the introduction of a new 4-way SunFire server and two workstations all based on AMD's Opteron processor. Sun said for the same price to migrate to JES, it would even throw in its V20z AMD Opteron processor-based server complete with Solaris 9 and one year of SunSpectrum Silver support. Sun also said that it's extending its special promotion for qualified small businesses through December 31, 2004.

"From our perspective, we're delivering on the multi-platform commitment we put forth earlier this year," Stephen Borcich, executive director of marketing, Java Enterprise System said. "We committed the business to changing the way people could get technology. Buy the software from a subscription level and we give you the hardware for free."

Borcich also said Sun was looking at offering a version compatible with IBM systems running AIX, but quipped that even IBM's interest in the Unix variation was doubtful.

Sun reports it currently has a double-digit amount of companies with more than of 300,000 employees signed up for its JES since its official launch. The number does not include the limited deployment contract Sun has with the Chinese government, Borcich said.

The multi-platform support strategy is also aimed a yanking the rug out from under companies like JBoss, Borland and BEA that sell Java-based software but do not have the hardware to support it. Either way, Sun is hoping to gain ground on IBM and BEA, which continue to dominate the Enterprise Java marketplace.

"The only way that Sun is going to convince more IT buyers is if they run on everything," Shawn Willett, principal analyst with research firm Current Analysis, told internetnews.com. "It's tough right now to gain market share in a stagnant market. Sun has to concentrate on the areas that are growing -- parts of the integration market and the development tool market. At this point, they have to take accounts away from IBM and BEA to make market share."

But Sun has had successes in signing up converts itself. Today the company said it inked a deal with Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) to set up the Sun Java Enterprise System running on the Solaris 9 Operating System as the platform for its communications services. An early adopter of the JES, SaskTel has 4,300 employees serving 454,000 subscribers and figures it is saving just upwards of $1 million in fees that would have gone to software licensing-related cost savings.

"Sun has the opportunity to get on the short list of deals it wasn't in before, if for no other reason than the economics of negotiation," Stephen O'Grady, senior analyst at research firm RedMonk told internetnews.com. "As for which would sell the most, Solaris is a good bet but I think the Linux flavor is likely to have its share of adherents as well. One area of strength for JES has been at the mid-market, and many of those organizations are migrating to Linux for a variety of reasons."

As for Sun's subscription model, some analysts point to the advantages of recurring revenue, something Sun sorely needs. But the limitation is that by definition any volume play needs volume.

"Volume, in the enterprise software space, takes time to build. It'll be interesting to see in that context what impact this announcement has on its licensing figures in a six- to eight-month timeframe," said O'Grady.