Sun goes after volume with discount software

Sun goes after volume with discount software

Sun Microsystems has released two bundled packages of Java software - one for desktops and one for servers - along with pricing moves intended to bolster its position in the Java software market.

Sun announced the release of its Java Enterprise System, a package of tightly bundled server software, which will be available in Australia by the end of the year for AU$172 per employee. It includes Sun's application server, directory server, portal server and around a dozen or so other products.

Sun also released its Java Desktop System, a suite of open source products designed to compete with Microsoft's Windows and Office software. The desktop system includes a version of Linux, the Mozilla Web browser, Sun's StarOffice productivity suite and several other products. It is also priced at $172 per employee or $86 per employee for customers who also buy the Enterprise System.

Hoping to spur wider use of its software, Sun said that businesses with less than 100 employees could download the Java Enterprise System for free, minus any services and technical support.

In addition, it announced pricing of $1000 per processor for embedded original equipment makers (OEMs) and independent software vendor (ISV) partners, who it hoped would bundle or embed the software with their products.

On the desktop side, businesses can get the Java Desktop System for half the list price if they buy it before June 2 next year, Sun said.

The company has reported several quarters of declining revenue, battered by an ongoing slump in sales of its higher-end Unix servers.

As part of a turnaround strategy it has been promoting its software more heavily as a way of generating new business. The products compete with offerings from IBM, Microsoft, BEA Systems, Oracle and others.

Sun's goal is to get its software into the hands of as many customers and developers as possible - even if it means giving the software away for free to customers who wouldn't otherwise buy it, such as small businesses, Sun's executive vice-president in charge of software, Jonathan Schwartz, said.

"We are focussed on pursuing market expansion with software, then we'll monetise it by selling other software and services and systems," he said.

Customers who weren't interested in Sun's software might still benefit from its pricing because it provided them with added leverage to negotiate better deals with other vendors, analysts said.

Sun also announced 10 new hardware products – including new lines featuring processors from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Sun Microsystems Australia director of partner sales, Paul O’Connor, has garnered a lot of partner interest in Sun’s plans for AMD’s new 64-bit Opteron processor.

He said there were many disillusioned HP channel partners upset at the vendor’s decision to discontinue its Alpha line.

Opteron, which enabled smooth migration between 32-bit and 64-bit applications, would enable Sun to migrate HP customers from Tru64 across to Sun’s Solaris operating system, O’Connor said.

O’Connor said Sun’s hardware announcements, which broadened the company’s range of low-end servers, showed a stronger commitment to the volume channel.

He also emphasised that a partnership with AMD did not mean Sun would slow down its relationship with Intel. Currently, most of Sun’s volume server line feature Intel Xeon processors.

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