Sun Launches Free Solaris 10 With Tiered Subscriptions


At the formal launch of the Unix OS upgrade, Sun President Jonathan Schwartz said the decision to offer customers a free right to use (RTU) license for Solaris 10 on commodity systems with up to four CPUs in combination with tiered subscriptions will beat rival Red Hat at its own game.

According to Schwartz, offering Solaris 10 on x86 and Opteron systems and on UltraSPARC will enable Sun to compete heavily on the low end and on the high end and will erase the advantages of Linux that have enticed many Solaris customers to switch to the open-source OS. Solaris 10 matches the "cross-platform mandate" of Linux and will run on more than 270 commodity and Unix systems, as well as support the Linux Standards Base, he said.

Sun trotted out numerous ISV partners that pledged to support Solaris 10, including OEM blade-center pioneer eGenera and enterprise applications giant SAP, as well as BEA Systems, BMC Software, Computer Associates International, EDS, EMC, Oracle, PeopleSoft and Veritas.

"We can participate in the next wave of volume buildout. What partners care about is getting more volume and market opportunity," Schwartz said, adding that Sun has convinced many ISVs that it will be a serious player in the commodity server market going forward in spite of its proprietary Unix heritage. "We're growing out our market with changes we've made," he said. "Solaris is back, and we're bringing new volume, partner and market opportunities into the industry. It's all about innovation. We're seeing new wave of market opportunities and this one we can participate in fully."

Sponsored post

Solaris 10 for Sun's UltraSPARC platform as well as x86 and Opteron will ship in the first quarter of 2005. Red Hat plans to launch its next-generation Enterprise Linux 4 product line during the first quarter of next year as well.

Some observers say Sun has a tough battle ahead because of the market momentum of Red Hat Linux, but they add that Sun can eradicate the economic advantages of its rival by offering less-expensive support.

Sun will offer customers the right to use Solaris 10 on four-way systems with security fixes at no cost. For the basic tier of service, Sun will offer a free RTU license with all upgrades and fixes, 90-day installation support and configuration support and online self-assessment training for $120 per CPU per year.

The standard service level will include all of the above as well as five-day, 12-hour support, one Web course and optional training credits for $240 per CPU per year, The premium service level will include all standard service offerings with seven-day, 24-hour phone support and additional technical and education services for $360 per CPU per year.

Sun executives said they won't reveal details about open-source Solaris until the end of the year since neither the license nor the terms of the license have been finalized.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy said he predicted the advent of free OS software as far back as 1999 and dismissed reports that characterized Sun's free RTU Solaris 10 license as a last-ditch effort to save its following on Wall Street and win back Linux converts.

Solaris shipped 6.5 million new licenses and will grow that by playing in the commodity market, Sun executives said. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company also will push its new vendor-neutral stance by compensating the Sun sales force the same regardless of which platform version of Solaris they sell.

"This isn't a desperate move," McNealy said during the launch on Monday. "It's an $80 billion dividend check to customers." "

McNealy noted, for example, that Solaris 10's performance enhancements and container technology will enable customers to improve the utilization rate of their SPARC-based and X86 systems to 80 percent in the future from 15 percent now, translating into major savings for customers.

"It's all about getting back to our roots," said McNealy, adding that the company's $2 billion investment in Solaris and new features such as the ZFS File System for storage virtualization, DTrace utilization utility, EAL-4 security rating and containers technology for OS virtualization set a new bar for the OS market for Unix vendors as well as Linux and Windows.

"It has paid off big time. The Sun OS has grown up big time, to Solaris 10," he said.

One ISV in the Linux space who requested anonymity said Sun faces an uphill battle because of Linux's market momentum.

"It's too little, too late. Sun machines are coming off lease, and customers don't want to buy new Solaris ones," the ISV said. "It reminds me of what happened to Digital Equipment's OpenVMS. Sun has a tough row to hoe."