Sun to bundle software, offer as free downloads

By : |November 30, 2005 0

Duncan Martell

SAN FRANCISCO: Sun Microsystems Inc. said on Wednesday it will bundle much of
its software and provide it free to customers, the latest tweak by the computer
maker to its business model in an effort to return to growth.

Sun said that its Java Enterprise System, Sun N1 management software and
developer tools will be available for free. A year ago, Sun started offering its
Solaris version of the Unix operating system for free.

“This is all about eliminating the barriers to revenue,” said Sun Chief
Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz in a telephone interview. “This is a result
of our decision to opensource Solaris and run on everybody’s hardware.”

Although more of Sun’s software will now be free, customers will have to pay
for service and support, which is how Sun aims to boost revenue. It also hopes
that with the more than 3.4 million downloads of Solaris, customers will be
inclined to buy more of Sun’s hardware and storage gear.

Sun, of Santa Clara, California, had the clear lead in the dot-com boom of
the late 1990s and the venerable Silicon Valley company could not keep its
high-performing servers on the shelves amid soaring demand.

Then the bubble burst, Sun fell behind competitors and lost revenue and
market share to rivals including Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and
International Business Machines Corp.

Sun has since fought back with industry-standard servers using Advanced Micro
Devices Inc.’s Opteron microprocessor, which are growing rapidly, albeit from a
small base. Sun will also soon be selling servers using its T1 microprocessor,
which was code-named Niagara, that it recently announced.

With Wednesday’s announcement, Sun said it was integrating all of the
now-free software along with its Solaris operating system and will call it the
Solaris Enterprise System.

In a statement, Schwartz said that “100 percent of our customers are
deploying web infrastructures and asking for relief from onerous licenses and
system integration activity.”

Sun is hoping that the combination of new business models, hardware and
software offerings, along with its service and support offerings, will reignite
growth and help regain ground lost to the freely available Linux operating
system and Microsoft Corp. Windows servers.

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