Sun talks up Solaris 10 for ISVs

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Sun has started promoting Solaris 10 to ISVs and channel partners with a range of sweeteners, including extra help for partners porting Solaris on to x86.

Sun has started promoting Solaris 10 to ISVs and channel partners with a range of sweeteners, including extra help for partners porting Solaris on to x86.

Chris Ratcliffe, group manager for Solaris at Sun, promised Australian ISVs would get free assistance -- including hardware, software and training -- in porting Solaris 10 on to an x86 platform.

The only stipulation was they had to port by 31 March. Solaris 10 ships in January and will include three-tier subscription pricing. “And, there’s 1000 hardware units available on a first come, first served basis,” Ratcliffe said.

He said AMD “full-on” software support had just come in in Solaris 10. Next year, 64-bit computing would start to hit its straps and Sun aimed to take advantage of the trend, he said.

“Solaris has been 64-bit since 1997, but this is the first time we’ve added support for x86 or Athlon 64 chips,” Ratcliffe said.

Users had complained about the lack of x86 support for Solaris and emphasis on SPARC. SPARC was a shrinking market, but Sun was still earning good revenue from that platform, he said.

“We’ve seen a slowdown in that market over the last few years. It’s interesting today to see what’s happening in that space, but we’re shipping more units today than we were five years ago, which was at the height of the boom and some SPARC areas are growing,” he said.

Adapting Solaris 10 from SPARC to x86 would only require a recompile – a feature that should prove attractive to vendors and resellers, Ratcliffe said.

James Eagleton, business development manager for Sun’s software partners, said the vendor was encouraging application providers to move to a Solaris on x86 environment.

“We’re supporting 280 hardware non-Sun platforms such as Dell, HP, IBM and Acer ... and around 1100 applications porting to Solaris on x86,” he said.

Sun kicked off an ISV program in July and August with the aim of signing 200 by June 2005. So far, 130 developer firms have signed on so Sun believed it was well on the way, Eagleton said.

Sun had also hired two new staff to help its partners build their Solaris 10 practices, a program manager and an engineer. The engineer would be dedicated to the role, whereas previously partners had to share engineers with other local Sun activities, he said.

Ratcliffe said all the new features on Solaris 10 were equivalent on both SPARC and x86 architecture models, except for the Linux application environment which would be on x86.

“We are are committing to the x86 market,” he said. “Over 60 percent [of users] are [on] x86 platforms. One-third use SPARC.”

Security would also go on building steam next year. Sun felt that Solaris 10 had several security features that no-one else was likely to have for at least a couple more years, Ratcliffe said.

One example was in the digital certificate area. Sun had included in every binary a digital signature that would help customers put digital certificates into every application, he said.

“We have provided in Solaris 10 a four-state switch, to set the switch so it only runs binaries that have been digitally signed by people who are trusted,” Ratcliffe said. “It stops unauthorised applications running on systems.”

Solaris 10 had taken about 3000 engineering years of development, with Sun investing US$500 million over three years. Solaris 9 was released in late 2001, Ratcliffe said.

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