Sun maps app server strategy

The Microsoft foe is backing into Windows NT support as it completes its purchase of application server vendor NetDynamics.

Staunch Microsoft foe Sun Microsystems is backing into Windows NT support as it completes its July 1 purchase of application server vendor NetDynamics.

Announcing that the acquisition closed, Sun's Java chief Alan Baratz today named new application server customers including Countrywide Home Loans, Federal Express, and Australian phone company Telstra, all of which will use NetDynamics on Windows NT, among other operating systems. Loan information service GetSmart.com has purchased the application server to use on Solaris.

Sun now also offers a NetDynamics application server as an option on all Sun servers running Solaris, and Baratz declared the NetDynamics platform the key component of Sun's enterprise software strategy. Pricing is $3,500 for a developer package and $13,500 for deployment.

"NetDynamics is critical to Sun's software strategy, a core component of Sun's software strategy is products that are delivered and well-supported across all hardware and operating systems platforms," Alan Baratz, president of Sun's Java software unit, said. He insisted that Sun chairman Scott McNealy and chief operating officer Ed Zander, who frequently ridicule Windows NT, are on board for including NT within Sun's strategy.

Baratz described an application server as middleware to connect browser-based user interfaces with existing corporate applications. He argued that application servers will be key to companies creating "enterprise portals" on their internal networks.

Zack Rinat, former CEO of NetDynamics and now a Sun vice president running that business, said NetDynamics had contractual obligations with customers to support both Windows and Solaris. NetDynamics also supports other kinds of Unix operating systems, including HP-UX and IBM's AIX.

Sun has not publicly discussed how much it paid for NetDynamics, but an official familiar with the deal said it was worth $160 million to $170 million in stock plus unspecified additional payments.

The NetDynamics technology will serve as the basis for a full family of servers that scale applications from embedded devices to consumer devices and mainframes, Sun said, and integrate with legacy systems, databases, and business applications.

Steve Zocchi, director of marketing for the NetDynamics unit, suggested the single NetDynamics app server today might be extended for embedded devices such as gas pumps, oil well heads, manufacturing floor controls, and vending machines.

Rinat indicated that the next version of NetDynamics, due to release in March 1999, would include full support for Sun's Enterprise Java Beans.

Sun also will license Inprise's VisiBroker Integrated Transaction Service, an object-oriented transaction monitor for distributed applications. Inprise technology will be added to a version of NetDynamics that will ship in the second half of next year.

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