Sun Microsystems Inc. has decided to make its Java Enterprise System, Sun N1 management software, and Sun developer tools available for development and deployment at no cost, while reaffirming its commitment to open-sourcing all this software over time.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company is also integrating all of this software and the Solaris operating system into a new product, known as the Solaris Enterprise System, to give customers an open infrastructure software platform.
The new Solaris Enterprise System will include the open-sourced Solaris 10 operating system, including the PostgreSQL database; the entire Sun Java Enterprise System infrastructure software platform, including the Sun Java Identity Management Suite, Sun Java Integration Suite, Sun Java Communications Suite, Sun Java Application Platform Suite, Sun Java Availability Suite and Sun Java Web Infrastructure Suite.
Also included is the N1 Management Software including the Sun N1 System Manager, the Sun N1 Service Provisioning System, the Sun N1 Grid Engine; all tools for C, C++ and Java development, including Sun Studio 11, Sun Java Studio Enterprise 8 and Sun Java Studio Creator; the SunRay ultra-thin client software; and Sun Secure Global Desktop Software.
Company executives such as Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president and COO, and John Loiacono, Sun's executive vice president, Software Group, said in a teleconference Wednesday morning that the decision for this move was buoyed by the momentum that had developed behind its Solaris operating system after that was open sourced.
But, essentially, the move brings no real cost savings for those enterprise and other customers who want these free products supported.
"Nothing changes for existing JES customers around pricing if they want Sun support for the products, Schwartz said.
"If they want to use it for free, they are welcome to do so. But this will then be totally unsupported by Sun," he said, adding that the CIOs like open source because it creates interoperability between products and platforms rather than because it is free.
"None of our enterprise customers want free software without a support contract, and so I expect revenue will grow as the barriers to actually getting revenue will go down, resulting in revenue growth. Free and open-source software is not about doing away with revenue; it's about removing barriers to creating revenue," he said.
Sun will also have a range of service and support contracts targeted toward customers of all sizes and with varying needs, some of which are still under development, he said.
Sun also used the announcement to position itself as the leading alternative environment to Microsoft's Windows environment.
"This is a new no-cost and open alternative to the Windows environment," he said.
"The Solaris Enterprise System has all of the benefits of an integrated offering while still enabling customers the flexibility to address their requirements by deploying the specific components they need into alternative operating systems," Loiacono said.
The Sun Java Enterprise System and the Sun developer tools can now be used at no cost on other existing multi-platform environments including Windows, HP-UX and Linux, in addition to being combined under a single distribution with the Solaris Enterprise System, he said.
"We at Sun believe that anyone still dealing in the proprietary space is challenged, as this open model is the way developers and CIOs are looking to position themselves going forward," Loiacono said.
For his part, Schwartz acknowledged that these moves represented another transformation in Sun's system and software products, and recognized the fact that volume is what wins in the software markets of today.
One of the most interesting drivers of this is price, with free "the greatest driver of volume. We have seen the impact of open source, and we have transformed our business as a result of that and the competitive threat it created," Schwartz said.
Sun has two broad customer sets: developers, who do not necessarily have money to buy products but who work together to change the landscape, and CIOs, who have money to spend on technology and can pick from all of those available.
"We have to appeal to both of them," he said.
Since February, nearly 3.5 million Solaris 10 licenses have been registered, with some 70 percent of these for non-Sun hardware, primarily hardware from Hewlett-Packard Co., he said.
There are now also 10,000 registered OpenSolaris community members.
With regard to volume, Schwartz said there are more than 100 million active Java Enterprise System subscribers today, which translates into a $100 million business for Sun.
There has been more than 53 million downloads of Star Office/OpenOffice.org.
"We are going to be driving for volume in our software and services and monetizing that as best and aggressively as we can. But we have to create a developer opportunity if we want to see a market opportunity," Schwartz said.