Sun Takes a Shine to Linux in New Web Stack

Much of the open source community relies on the popular LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) application stack, a setup that traditionally has been offered through Linux vendors.

Sun Microsystems is now joining the party with its own take on the LAMP stack — one that could pose a challenge to the LAMP offerings from Linux vendors, since it’s aimed at users of Linux as well as Sun Solaris. Eventually, it will support Windows and Mac OS X, too.

Officially called the Web Stack by Sun, the new enterprise “AMP” (Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack also aims to create a new revenue stream from Linux for Sun.

“We’ve now made the commitment to provide full enterprise support for the AMP stack on Solaris and Linux this year and probably early next year, on Windows and Mac OS X,” Ken Drachnik, community development and marketing manager for Sun’s open source group, told

“The key here is we’re now expanding our open source model and providing open source not just on distributions from Sun, but we’re integrating components from other open source communities, providing version control and a regular release cycle for other OSes,” he said.

Not all flavors of Linux will be supported initially, however. Drachnik said Sun would first provide the Web Stack on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, with other distributions, like Ubuntu Linux, to follow.

“We have a good relationship with Ubuntu and we’ll get there over time,” Drachnik said. Sun has provided hardware support for Ubuntu since at least 2006.

The offering builds on Sun’s previous enterprise AMP stack for Solaris users, which Drachnik said had been geared specifically for Solaris developers who wanted an integrated stack without the need to cobble one together for themselves.

With the new release, Sun is banking that developers will be enticed by the fact that the company’s new Web Stack offers standardized components across Linux as well as Solaris — and ultimately Windows and OS X. Typically, many develop on one operating system and then deploy on another, which can make development difficult.

As a result, Drachnik views Sun’s stack as offering a major differentiator against the Linux-only stacks offered directly by LAMP’s supporters.

“A key feature of our AMP stack will be tightly controlled versions across the OS’s,” Drachnik said.

In addition to widening support to most Linux users, Sun is also providing a new degree of version control for the AMP stack, which Drachnik said would make it simpler for users to deploy.

“Our intent is to standardize on a configuration and ensure that configuration and the versions of software it contains are controlled across OSes that we provide support for,” Drachnik said. “So if you get the AMP stack for Solaris, the same components are versions will be available for Linux and Windows.”

Sun plans to update the Web Stack on a regular release cycle to keep the components up to date, although Drachnik was unable to provide an exact timeline as to how often the offering would be updated.

Though Sun is now providing support for AMP across platforms, Drachnik doesn’t see it as a threat to Sun’s existing Java business.

“Typically, a LAMP stack is used for Web applications,” he said. “The LAMP stack gets deployed on the edge but within the core of the enterprise. Where people are dealing with very secure, high-speed transactions, they’ll want to have a dedicated Java application server and they probably wouldn’t use a LAMP stack back there.”

While Drachnik conceded that there may be overlap between the offerings, he added that the goal is to make sure that Sun covers all of its bases.

“We’re getting questions from customers about how can we get an AMP stack in addition to or in place of an existing Sun Java Web system,” Drachnik said. “We’ll continue to offer both.”

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