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Sun offers discounts to ISPs

Sun knocks 60 percent off the Solaris OS as it looks to increase its leadership in the thriving ISP market.

Sun Microsystems rolled out substantial discounts on customized software packages for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), a traditional stronghold for the company.

Customers who buy a new Sun Enterprise 250 workgroup server will get discounts on other products, including a 60-percent discount on licenses of Solaris, Sun's Unix-based operating system, for ISPs. Under the special, which lasts until the end of the year, Solaris for ISP's will sell for $2,398 rather than $5,995.

The new offerings will likely help it further extend its leadership in the thriving ISP market.

"Sun has a got a huge influence with the ISPs," said Amir Ahari, server analyst for International Data Corporation. "Unix products are just outstanding in that area?This is a further move to really consolidate their hold on that."

Sun has gained that foothold by doing great market research and offering "shrinkwrapped solutions" to ISPs, said IDC analyst Michelle Bailey.

Sun is also teaming with Internet software vendors Open Market, IntraActive, and CyberCash to provide e-commerce and collaborative solutions for ISPs. Sun is also offering training programs and consulting services focused on ISPs.

This year, Sun has emerged as the No. 1 Unix server maker, becoming the biggest fish in an increasingly small pond. Sun has jumped two positions to lead the industry in unit shipments, leapfrogging both IBM and Hewlett-Packard, according to a report from IDC. Sun recorded a 75-percent year-over-year increase, in effect stealing rivals' sales. Both IBM and HP, however, enjoyed larger server sales when NT servers are counted.

Although servers based around Microsoft's Windows NT have cut into Unix turf, Sun has managed to grow its business by concentrating on servers that are more powerful than NT servers, but comparatively cheap for Unix boxes.

But Ahari says Windows NT and Sun's servers are finding their own paths in the ISP world.

"NT is finding its own niche in that market," he said. NT is being used more for things like Web hosting and Web marketing, while the Solaris does more of the heavy-lifting, mission-critical functions.

"When you make the connection, or buy a book from Amazon, that's Unix. When you want to look at a pretty Web site, that's NT," Ahari said.