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Sun open-sources digital archiving

Sun Microsystems has a clever business model behind its open-source initiatives, Matt Asay writes. In this case, it expects to make money by selling related hardware.

Sun Microsystems continues to run amok in the open-source world, open-sourcing software in every direction. Today, it is in the direction of digital-archiving software, which has been used to capture and maintain "business images, records, consumer- and corporate-created digital content, e-science work, and high-performance computing (HPC) data for hundreds of years."

How does Sun expect to make money? In this case, it's the hardware, which makes a lot of sense:

Sun StorageTek 5800 Open Edition can be downloaded for free, allowing developers to experience the simplicity of storing and retrieving fixed content data and metadata efficiently. The purchase of the StorageTek 5800 System provides greater enhanced RAS (reliability, availability, serviceability) and includes extreme data protection against data corruption and data loss.

The idea is to get the software for free, and install it where you wish. But if you want an added level of security and reliability (and frankly, if you care enough about the archives to want to guarantee their availability for 100 years, why wouldn't you?), you purchase the hardware to go with it. Try out the software for free; buy the hardware when you're ready for production.

Makes sense to me.