SAN FRANCISCO — Sun Microsystems
is planning to
open source more than just its Solaris operating system in the coming
year, executives said Friday.
Jonathan Loiacono, Sun’s executive vice president of software, said
the Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems company is planning on releasing
code from some of its enterprise software products to the open source
community in the same way it has done in the
past with Java-enabled projects like Project Looking Glass and Java
Of the five major software products Sun stands on — Solaris, Java,
Java Enterprise, Java Desktop, and SPARC — only Java continues
to be tagged as “off limits” by Sun execs. “It’s the crown jewels,”
Loiacono said during a press and analyst briefing outlining Sun’s
customer-facing software portfolio leading into the New Year.
The programming language and SPARC processors are already open in one
sense of the word that the architecture is readily available. Java’s
code is available for download but requires compatibility certification
from Sun to be identified as the real deal. Sun has done the same with
SPARC, which is used by Fujitsu.
That position could leave Java Enterprise and Java Desktop wide open
for discussion and dissection.
“We have multiple options on the table but I’m not saying which one
Sun is taking just yet,” Loiacono said.
Sun has been preparing to open the
source code to the Solaris operating system since the summer but has
revealed precious few details on its process. The company said it would
submitting parts of its Unix-based server OS sometime in January
Earlier this month, the company submitted
its new Common Development and Distribution License
(CDDL) to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) lending speculation that the
Mozilla-based licensing model would also open source Solaris.
“There is no one license for all implementations,” Loiacono said.
“There is the GPL, NPL, CDDL and a host of other licenses out there. We
are looking at a middle-ground governance model, but at this point, it is
about starting a dialogue.”
Already, Sun has outlined its structure for Solaris. Beyond the open
source version, Sun has a free right-to-use edition that includes
upgrades and patches but no support. The company is counting more on
their supported service model, which could net them a continuing stream
of revenue, granted that it signs up enough subscriptions to cover the
more than $500 million spent in R&D costs.
Outside of shipping Solaris 10, Sun is also focused on disrupting the
traditional software sales channels with their per-person per-time frame
vision. Loiacono commented that outside of Sun’s famous $100
per-employee/per-year structure for Java Enterprise System, the company
is also looking at its relationship with Waveset Technologies to provide a
subscription-based identity management model.
Loiacono said Sun is also
working on introducing similar pricing structures for its N1 utility
Loiacono said Sun’s other growth targets for software include
identity management, helping companies with government compliance,
J2ME, Sun’s OEM business, and a broadband-focused Sun Ray.
To that end, Sun outlined several of its thin-client technologies
including new Sun Ray Server Software 3.0 and the Sun Ray 170 ultra-thin
client, which runs over DSL or broadband connections.