Sun to take Java Enterprise System open source

Sun Microsystems on Wednesday promised to follow up its open source release of Solaris by doing the same thing with the Java Enterprise System.

Besides the Java Enterprise System (JES), Sun said it would also make its N1 management software and its developer tools available to developers at no cost.  The company will also integrate these software tools with Solaris into a platform that will be called the Solaris Enterprise System (SES). This includes tools for C, C++ and Java development such as Sun Studio 11, Sun Java Studio Enterprise 8 and Sun Java Studio Creator, among others.

Since February, Sun has seen more than 3.5 million Solaris licence downloads, Sun president Jonathan Schwartz said in a teleconference briefing. About 75 per cent of those users are putting the OS onto non-Sun hardware, including HP, Dell and IBM, Schwartz added. The accompanying middleware Sun has put on top of Solaris has turned into a US$100-million business for Sun in the last 18 months. Opening up JES and creating SES will give Sun’s software the volumes it needs to become a competitor to Red Hat Linux and Microsoft, Schwartz said. 

“Volume implies you generate the broadest ecosytsem, the broadest market opportunity, the broadest potential and it is useful in lowering costs and opening markets,” he said.

Sun serves two distinct sets of customers (CIOs and developers), Schwartz noted, and its success with open source Solaris generated feedback from both that the company should do the same thing with other key parts of its product line.

“CIOs, or anyone in a position to wield a budget, are going to be increasing their investment for as long as the rest of us are on this planet to leverage the network to transform their business,” he said. “(Software developers) don’t have access to a lot of money, but they certainly have the ability to move the landscape.” 

Britt Hilton, director of sales for Sun iForce partner Myra Systems Corp. in Victoria, B.C., said he wasn’t sure what to make of Sun’s JES strategy.

“In terms of moving it to open source, I can understand why they did it with Solaris,” he said. “All that’s a reaction to the market strength that Linux is grabbing. I don’t know what that means from an application suite perspective.”

Sun will sell subscriptions, licences and support services around JES and SES, according to the company’s executive vice-president of software John Loiacono. The result will be a “zero barrier to entry” for small and medium business customers who had found some of Sun’s software prohibitive, Loiacono said. 

“What we’ll have is a platform that with more stability than Red Hat but more open than Microsoft,” he said.

Sun was vague about when it will offer the software as open source, though Loiacono said some of it would be available in the first quarter of next year and the rest within two years. About 80 per cent of the packages are available for free download today.

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