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Toshiba servers back Solaris

Sun claims a victory in the contest to become the industry's standard variant of Unix, snagging support from Toshiba.

Sun Microsystems claimed a victory in the contest to become the industry's standard variant of Unix, as Toshiba announced that it will market Intel-based servers running the Solaris operating system.

Simultaneously, the Japanese company endorsed database clustering technology from Oracle, meaning that the main components of Toshiba's Intel-based corporate server platform are becoming pretty well defined, even if the company hasn't yet announced any specific products.

Toshiba entered the crowded PC server market just last week at PC Expo with a series of Windows NT servers. While Toshiba has enjoyed success in the United States with its well-regarded notebook line, success elsewhere has proved elusive. Last year Toshiba tried, but failed to gain traction in the PC market.

As Intel architecture chips continue to gain ground in enterprise computing, Sun and others are porting their Unix operating systems to the Intel platform and competing to become the dominant Unix "flavor" there. Victory likely will go to the vendor which amasses the most support from software and hardware companies.

Sun recently won the endorsement of Siemens Nixdorf and Fujitsu, and earlier earned NCR's support. Nonetheless, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq's Digital Equipment, and SCO remain in the hunt and have been sewing up alliances of their own.

Toshiba isn't exactly an earth-shattering win for Sun because the company has no market presence in servers as yet, said Dataquest server analyst Dan Dolan, but its endorsement does help maintain momentum.

"Dataquest doesn't expect them [Toshiba] to pick up a lot of share in the market, but it is good news for Sun. There's no clear-cut winner on what's going to be the de facto standard going forward."

Toshiba said it would initially focus on the Japanese market in a prepared statement but did not outline a time frame when its first servers would appear. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.