Sun To Go After Red Hat's Jugular In Linux-Intel Market

Sun's Linux OS to bundle Sun One components, Java and N1 technologies

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Sun Microsystems is turning up the heat against its newest nemesis,Red Hat in the Linux-Intel market.

The company, which maintains it will continue to develop its own Solaris Unix operating system as it preps its own Linux OS, will ship a series of general-purpose, x86 servers running Sun's Linux during the early part of the second half of 2002, executives said on Monday.

As it faces strong competition in its coveted financial and telecommunications markets from the likes of Red Hat and other Linux distributors, Sun surprised the market in February by saying it would ship a general-purpose Linux distribution on x86 boxes. Currently, Sun markets a version of its Solaris Unix OS for the Intel platform.

Sun will bundle Java, Sun One and N1 technologies for Linux around the Linux kernel to add unique value that competitors like Linux leader Red Hat and its OEM partners can't match, Sun executives said on Monday.

While the company refused to disclose its Intel OEM partner in the deal, executives said it will ship a series of single- and dual-processor x86 servers for edge computing needs, including firewall, caching, load balancing and traffic management at the edge of the data center. The server series, due this summer, will include a new class of carrier-grade servers and blade servers.

"We're going after Red Hat. Expect Sun to be as intensely competitive [in the edge computing market as we are in other parts of the market," said Stephen Dewitt, vice president and general manager of content delivery and edge computing at Sun, alluding to the company's existing and fierce competition with Microsoft in the enterprise and corporate markets. "Sun One, Java and N1 will differentiate us from Red Hat in the general-purpose market."

Sun, for example, plans to make available Sun One components, N1 management technologies and "world-class" implementation of Java on its Linux distribution. It will also bundle a variety of Java tools, ChiliSoft ASP software, Apache Web server, management interface hooks, including hooks into Sun's Cobalt control station on its low-end servers. The distribution will not be sold stand-alone, but on Sun branded x86 boxes.

"If we're going to get more penetration against Red Hat on a box, we have to do more on the [software stack," said DeWitt. "We'll be comparably priced while doing more."

Sun also plans to go up against IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer, which are shipping Windows-based Intel servers to the edge computing market. "This is absolutely in the face of Microsoft," DeWitt said.

Sun executives also blasted rumors that its Solaris Unix OS will be dropped in favor of Linux and noted that the company may also reconsider a recent decision not to ship its forthcoming Solaris 9 for Intel. "We said we will defer Solaris 9, not kill, or end it [for Intel, but sit on Solaris 9 for x86 and really think about it," said Anil Gadre, vice president and general manager of Solaris, adding he is reconsidering that decision in light of customer feedback. "I'm thinking about it. But for now, the decision holds." Solaris 9 for Sun's UltraSparc III and II architectures is due later this year.

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