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Sun gathers Solaris-Intel commitments

Sun Microsystems nabs a handful of commitments and endorsements regarding its strategy to promote its Solaris operating system on servers that use Intel-compatible processors.

A handful of companies are getting behind Sun Microsystems' push to promote its Solaris operating system on Intel-based servers.

The server giant has gathered a slew of commitments and endorsements regarding its strategy. Among the companies that have committed to release software for the version of Solaris that runs on "x86" servers compatible with Intel chips are speech recognition software maker Nuance and computer performance-monitoring toolmaker Quantiva. In addition, e-commerce software maker is evaluating the Solaris version, Verizon is using it, and chipmaker AMD and database-software maker Sybase have endorsed it, said Ann Wettersten, the newly named vice president of marketing for Sun's operating systems group.

Solaris for Intel processors has been riding a roller coaster at Sun for years, with the downs resulting from often frosty relations between Sun and Intel. Thursday's announcements are intended to show that Sun's current efforts to promote the product are taking hold.

Sun for years has offered a version of Solaris for Intel servers, but it preferred to promote the much more widely used version for Sun's own UltraSparc processors. A year ago, Sun announced it was "deferring productization" of Solaris 9 for Intel servers, putting plans for the product on hold. Later in 2002, the company announced it would ship Solaris 9 for its LX50 Intel servers and eventually other systems as well.

To make computing hardware useful, a computer maker must attract software companies. Sun has had strong partnerships for its UltraSparc version of Solaris, but for the x86 version, the company faces challenges in rounding up support.

It's not alone, though. Intel and Hewlett-Packard are hard at work enlisting software company support for new Itanium systems, which work completely differently from Intel's more widely used Pentium and Xeon processors.

Sun, with its Open Network Environment (Sun ONE) set of server software, isn't totally dependent on outside software companies. It's working on plans to release versions of all the UltraSparc-Solaris programs so they run on Intel-Solaris and Intel-Linux as well.

Solaris 9 for x86-based servers includes the company's protective firewall software, its Volume Manager for managing disk storage systems, and its Resource Manager for allocating processing power and other computing resources for different computing tasks on a server.

Solaris 9 is included with Sun Intel servers and otherwise costs at least $99. Telephone support costs $75 per year for desktop systems and $1,275 a year for low-end servers, Sun has said.