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Commentary: Sun guards its market

The computing giant's decision to bundle various higher-level components with its Solaris operating system is to some extent a reaction to moves by its competitors.

By Joanne Correia, Gartner Analyst

Sun Microsystems' decision to bundle various higher-level components with its Solaris operating system is to some extent a reaction to moves that its chief competitors have already made.

See news story:
Sun eyes application server market

Gartner has been predicting since last year that the evolution of application server technology into areas like e-commerce and portals will cause infrastructure software companies to change the packaging of their products. As companies vie for a bigger piece of the market for increasingly important e-business systems, they are giving away the application server software, which makes it possible to control accounts and possibly gain in the market.

Sun has announced it will initially bundle the Sun Open Network Environment with Solaris, and by the end of 2003, the company will build its application server for e-business and Web server software into Solaris. In this respect, it seems to be reacting to the likes of Hewlett-Packard, which already bundles its application server with its HP-UX operating system. This allows it to then promote other products such as HP-AS Resilient Edition 8.0, HP Total-e-Transactions, HP-IS and HP Core Services Framework.

Similarly, IBM bundles WebSphere with special versions of the AS/400 operating system, and Microsoft bundles its Internet Information Server with server versions of Windows NT.

Looking at the application server market through 2003, Gartner believes that the advantage in value in basic application servers will continue to decrease as IBM, Sun and HP bundle their basic applications server technology with their hardware.

Sun's latest announcement is clearly a market position move to gain the attention of corporate developers and protect its server business. While such a marketing tactic doesn't give away either the higher-end platform application server software or runtime licenses, it does give server makers like Sun, which have application server technology, an advantage over other companies that just sell the software, such as BEA Systems. BEA sells most of its software for the Solaris operating system.

(For a related commentary, on worldwide server market share figures, see gartner.com.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2002 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.