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Sun also rises

Forrester experts say Sun Microsystems' major deal with Microsoft makes Solaris and other assets shine more brightly.

Commentary: Sun also rises
By Forrester Research
Special to CNET News.com
April 2, 2004, 5:50PM PT

By Brad Day and Frank E. Gillett, analysts

Sun Microsystems' announcements of cost reductions, a $1.95 billion payment and technical partnership with Microsoft, and the promotion of software exec Jonathan Schwartz to president and chief operating officer should reassure customers.

These moves remove doubts about Sun's viability by bolstering Solaris, Sun's key customer asset, and its accompanying ecosystem. Sun customers no longer have a reason to move to Linux but must push Sun to fully duplicate the Solaris ecosystem on x86. Non-Sun customers should add Sun to their short list and demand support for Linux and Windows.


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Forrester has been advising clients that they could continue to rely on Sun--but cautiously. This news changes our advice: Customers can now count on Sun's viability, because:

•  Solaris will survive as the top Unix offering for entry-level servers. With the Microsoft partnership for technology integration, Sun has removed another key objection to using Solaris. Combined with the option of Solaris x86 on Advanced Micro Devices or Intel, customers can get the lower costs they were looking for in Linux on Intel without giving up access to the robust Solaris features or Sun's high-end hardware.

•  Sun has more reason to offer a full-featured Solaris on x86. Indeed, customers should push Sun to port the full Solaris ecosystem to x86 by the end of 2004. This will not only help in staying Solaris migration to Linux in its classic large enterprise customer base but give Sun, Solaris and its Java Enterprise System ecosystem potential new license growth in select areas of the small- to midsize business segment.

•  Sun will lead with Solaris but draw new customers through support of multiple operating systems. Implicit in the new technology collaboration between Sun and Microsoft is the potential for Sun's support of 32- and 64-bit Windows server operating systems. Non-Sun customers will be drawn by the broadest x86 OS choices in the industry: Solaris, Linux and Windows. To cinch this advantage and match its competitors, Sun must partner to create extended support services for Windows.

© 2004, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.