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IBM server VP talks about Sun strategy

An IBM server vice president discusses IBM's strategy to tap into Sun Microsystems' customer base.

An IBM server vice president discussed IBM's strategy to tap into Sun Microsystems' customer base, in the wake of reports that IBM is in talks to buy the Santa Clara, Calif.-based server supplier.

IBM is rumored to be working toward a merger with Sun mostly due to the strength of Sun's server business. SPARC is Sun's chip architecture, while Solaris is Sun's operating system that runs on both SPARC chips and x86 processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

"Sun has a terrific installed base," Alex Yost, vice president IBM BladeCenter, said in a phone interview earlier this week in response to a question about Sun as a competitor.

Yost went on to say that IBM has an active business of migrating customers from Sun's SPARC architecture to x86-based servers. "I have a number of clients that are looking to go to Solaris on x86 or Linux on x86," he said. "That's very much something that we're actively doing."

Yost added that there are some IBM customers that require Sun's SPARC architecture. "We also have some clients in very specialized environments that require native Solaris on SPARC," he said. For these clients, IBM has partnered with Themis to offer SPARC blade server on IBM BladeCenter, Yost said.

Part of the challenge of absorbing Sun would be to integrate Sun's products with IBM's. On its Web site, Themis describes its T2BC Blade Server as enabling Solaris applications "to run natively, on an UltraSPARC T2 chip...within an IBM BladeCenter." The Themis product description continues: "The T2 Blade Server can share the same chassis with server blades that utilize other processor architectures and operating systems."