IBM Offers Middleware Support for Solaris, Renews Java Pact

IBM and Sun yesterday announced a 10-year extension of their Java technology agreement along with plans to deliver IBM middleware support for the Solaris 10 operating system on SPARC, x86 and x64 systems. Analysts said the agreements play a key role in Sun’s new direction.

“The next wave of economic and social progress will spring from ever-growing communities participating on the Web,” said Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer, Sun Microsystems. “Open technologies like Java and Solaris lower barriers to network participation and, together, form the world’s most advanced platform for Internet service development and deployment.”

Ask and You Shall Receive

In what may have been a response to Sun’s recent open letter to IBM asking Big Blue to support Websphere on Solaris, IBM said it would broaden support of its DB2, Rational, Tivoli and WebSphere software to include the open-source operating system on x64 AMD Opteron-based platforms.

Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM Software Group, said IBM ports its software to various platforms based on customer demand.

“We have been supporting Solaris as an operating system for many years,” Mills said. “Recently, we have seen an increase in customer interest in running Solaris on Intel/AMD platforms. Based on that interest, we have decided to port our key middleware products to Solaris 10 on Intel/AMD systems.”

One-Two-Three Punch

Ideas International senior analyst Tony Iams told LinuxInsider that while the 10-year Java agreement extension is significant, IBM’s decision to port Solaris is even more strategic for Sun — a decision that is critical to the success of its open-source platform.

Combined with Sun’s move to open-source its application server and acquisition of business process integration supplier SeeBeyond Technology, Iams said the company just delivered a one-two-three punch that makes its plans to move up the stack abundantly clear.

“In one fell swoop, Sun has revealed that the actual application server is not strategic for them and in fact its opportunity is at the business process integration layer,” Iams said. “That’s not terribly surprising. In general, the application server is becoming somewhat commoditized with the success of technologies like JBoss.”

Gaining Momentum

Still, analysts said Sun’s recent announcements mark a bold and determined move to focus on the part of the stack where company executives see the greatest opportunity, and cut and run from those areas of declining opportunity.

“Sun is on the run. The climate in which it is operating has undergone major changes in the past few years,” Iams said. “It’s clear from a financial standpoint that Sun needs to find new opportunities for growth and success and so it is putting its stake in the ground and declaring where it sees its future business coming from. These announcements are a step in the right direction.”

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