Sun Microsystems announced a version of the iPlanet Application Server Monday that will run on the Linux operating system, as the company tries to attract additional users to its software for building out their Internet infrastructure.
Besides its own Solaris operating system, Sun offers versions of the product for Microsoft's Windows, IBM's AIX and OS/390, and Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX. It plans to have a Linux version ready for release some time during the second quarter, said Sanjay Sarathy, director of product marketing for iPlanet. The application server is developed by Sun's iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions subsidiary.
Application servers provide a layer of middleware on which businesses can deploy a range of business applications for things like e-commerce and enterprise resource planning. BEA Systems and IBM hold the largest share of the market according to analyst estimates, but Sarathy said Sun is looking to gain ground by attracting the large base of Linux developers.
Sun has already made some of its software available for Linux, such as the iPlanet Web Server, iPlanet Message Queue and Forte for Java products. By adding its application server to the mix, the company said it now offers a broad set of products for businesses that want to use Linux to build out their computing infrastructure.
Businesses that use Solaris sometimes test applications on less expensive Linux-based systems before deploying them on Sun servers. "If you are a shop that primarily uses Solaris, you can use Linux as a development environment and then make a very easy transition to deploying the software on Solaris," he said.
Sun has said it hopes to forge closer ties between Solaris and Linux with the release of Solaris 9 later this year. For example, with the new version of Solaris, users will be able to run both Solaris and Linux applications, and switch between Solaris and Linux commands for managing the OS.
Sun provides a free developer license for its iPlanet Application Server line. If users want to deploy applications they have tested under the free license, the cost is US$20,000 per CPU (central processing unit) for the software.iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions was formed through an alliance between Sun and America Online Inc. (now part of AOL Time Warner Inc.), although it is anticipated that Sun will take full control of iPlanet's products in March.