By bundling an application server with its new Solaris 9 OE, Sun is taking aim at rivals like BEA Systems (NASDAQ:BEAS) -- the number one player in the application server market with 34 percent share in 2001 according to Gartner Dataquest -- and arch-rival IBM Corp. (NYSE:IBM), which holds the number two position in the application server market with 31 percent share. Sun comes in a distant third with 7 percent share.
The decision to bundle an app server with Solaris 9 appears to be a direct offensive against BEA, which does a strong business selling app servers for Solaris and Sun hardware.
"By integrating the Sun ONE Application Server and other important middleware into Solaris 9 OE, Sun provides customers with a more complete platform for developing and running applications in a J2EE environment," said Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis. "The inclusion of application middleware into Solaris 9 OE can help lower the cost of operations as companies develop Web services. However, Sun customers will still be able to work with third party applications and middleware with Solaris 9 OE, as the company is avoiding proprietary lock-ins."
In addition to the integration of Sun ONE Application Server 7, Platform Edition, the latest version of Solaris also integrates the Sun ONE Directory Server as part of Sun''s push to make it easier to use Solaris to build and deploy applications and Web services based on Java, XML and SOAP technologies.
"Solaris 9 OE is out in front and pulling away," said Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer of Sun. "The industry''s premiere Operating Environment for the enterprise just got better, giving developers the richest industrial strength platform for application delivery. Solaris 9 OE provides users with the most reliable, scalable, secure and manageable operating environment today, and now we''re converging it with critical areas of Java technology and XML middleware to extend the platform for even faster deployment. All still done in an open, standards-based world."
The company also trumpeted more than 300 new feature enhancements in manageability, security, availability and scalability.
In data management, the new OE now incorporates new file system features, including Unix File System (UFS) and Solaris Volume Manager, which provides storage management tools that allow users to manage large disks and large numbers of disks. Boyd Fletcher, a systems engineer with EG&G, said the integration will provide significant savings for EG&G.
"The cost savings of having the Solaris Volume Manager integrated into Solaris 9 OE are significant, on average $50K per site, and the UFS and Network File Systems (NFS) enhancements enable faster creation of file systems and improved performance and reliability."
Solaris 9 also adds new provisioning features, including Solaris Flash software, which allows users to create snapshots of an entire software stack and copy it to another system, and Live Upgrade, which allows for upgrades while supporting production workloads. Also, later this year, Solaris 9 will add Sun Management Center Change Manager, which will allow for automated deployment of software stacks to groups of systems simultaneously across the network.
The new OE also attempts to enhance resource management through the introduction of Solaris software containers, which allow customers to run multiple applications on a single server, with fault, security and resource containment built-in. Sun said container sizes can be changed without bringing down the application. Sun plans to deliver Solaris software containers in phases, beginning with Solaris 9 Resource Manager which is built into the new OE.
On the security front, Sun has added new security features, including the SunScreen 3.2 enterprise class firewall, Secure Shell, IPSec, Kerberos v5 server, buffer overflow protection, security hardening scripts, extensible password encryption, and role-based access control (RBAC).
As for availability, Sun said Solaris 9 is available immediately with full Sun Cluster 3.0 support through its latest update, data multipathing through the Sun StorEdge Traffic Manager and enhancements to IP Multipathing, Reconfiguration Coordination Manager (which automates dynamic reconfiguration operations), High Availability Service Packs, and Dynamic Reconfiguration.
Sun also said the new OE features improvements in configuration management services, including a Reliability Availability Serviceability (RAS) Knowledge Database, RAS Profile, and Solaris Patch Manager.
Sun said it includes a Solaris software license in the price of each hardware
system shipped, and customers with Sun support contracts receive upgrades as
part of the price of support. Others can obtain Solaris 9 for $50 and up. The OE
is available for free download for an unlimited number of systems with a maximum
capacity of a single CPU.