Sun Turns Spotlight On ISVs


Of Sun Microsystems' three core software constituencies -- ISVs, CIOs and data centers -- the developer community holds the distinction as the primary force driving demand for Sun's platform products. At least that's the word from Sun executive vice president of software Jonathan Schwartz, who on Friday laid out an expansive software strategy.

That strategy included a high-volume vision for mobile devices and phones running Java and a heavy press for the company's newly launched Project Orion integrated software stack initiative. On all fronts, Sun is counting heavily on its relationships with developer partners to execute successfully.

"Developers are our canaries in a coal mine," said Schwartz, during what was dubbed Sun's quarterly "town meeting" on software. "They create the content that makes devices in the workplace useful and necessary. And they create momentum and opportunity for Sun to deliver the infrastructure to our next constituency, CIOs."

Schwartz said ISVs and the applications they write will be key to fueling an already-burgeoning market for Java-based mobile devices and Java smart cards. He cited 100 million as the number of such devices that now exist in the marketplace, and predicted a continued proliferation that will easily eclipse the number of PCs shipped before long. The bottom line: That's the kind of volume that business-savvy ISVs crave for their applications.

Following that trend further, Schwartz said he anticipates that Java-based devices that are largely deployed on the consumer side today will gain more corporate traction as users seek to consolidate their work and home systems. The result? The killer app for a Java-enabled PDA will no longer be "Donkey Kong," but soon could be Siebel sales force automation, for example.

So Sun's mission, like IBM's, Microsoft's and others, is to create a community of ISVs that live and die by the Sun platform on which to deliver their applications to the enterprise. For example, IBM is stepping up its ISV recruitment effort in major ways, culminating in next month's DeveloperWorks Live event in New Orleans, where Big Blue will reveal plans to invest significant dollars in an effort to woo 1,000 midmarket ISVs.

It's a quid pro quo approach, according to Sun.

"Really, it's a virtuous cycle. As platforms become successful, then CIOs like them, which in turn creates more opportunity for ISVs," Schwartz said. And everyone wins.