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Sun seeks to capitalize on SCO suit

Sun Microsystems launches an ad campaign that highlights IBM's licensing dispute with SCO Group and encourages its rival's customers to switch to Sun's computing platform.

Sun Microsystems launches an ad campaign on Wednesday that highlights IBM's licensing dispute with SCO Group and encourages its rival's customers to switch to Sun's computing platform.

The print ad, which ran in The Wall Street Journal and The San Jose Mercury News, was addressed to organizations running AIX, IBM's version of the Unix operating system. In an ongoing dispute over intellectual-property rights to Unix, SCO said Monday that it has revoked IBM's license to sell AIX and requested a permanent injunction against IBM's Unix business.

Sun, on the other hand, has said it would not be affected by SCO's legal claims on Unix, because it bought its Unix license outright several years ago.

"Unfortunately, our friends in Blue have a problem with licensing contracts that could make things very expensive for anyone running AIX," the ad says. "Fortunately, Sun is ready to help."

As part of the campaign, Sun is offering two days of free consulting and a "trade-in" on IBM servers for companies that are interested in switching to Sun Solaris, its competing Unix server program. Sun will determine the trade-in value of any IBM systems that it replaces after the two-day assessment, a Sun representative said.

SCO has said that the termination of the AIX license means that IBM Unix customers also have no license to use the software. But IBM, which is fighting allegations by SCO that it misappropriated SCO's Unix trade secrets and built them into Linux, maintains that its license to sell Unix products is valid and that customers should not be alarmed. IBM sold $3.6 billion worth of Unix servers last year.

"IBM remains firmly committed to AIX and its customers," said Trink Guarino, an IBM spokeswoman. "Our customers know that we'll stand by them--that we'll continue to invest in and ship AIX."

Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy told a group of journalists in Stockholm on Tuesday that IBM's legal skirmish with SCO could help boost Sun's Unix business. "There's no question we're going to go after the AIX base and say Solaris is free and clear, with no legal or intellectual cloud hanging over it," McNealy was reported to have said.

Sun spokesman Mark Richardson said he doesn't expect the AIX migration program to be a "huge" revenue source for Sun because of the high cost often involved in such projects. "I doubt that tons of companies will do it, but for companies concerned, it is an alternative," he said.