Sun Goes After Red Hat, Discounts Solaris Support Plans

Sun Microsystems is gunning for Red Hat, with new support pricing in conjunction with an update of its Solaris 10 operating system, the company announced Tuesday.

The upgraded operating system, open source Solaris 10 11/06, comes with support subscriptions for what Sun describes as half the price of comparable support plans from Red Hat, the largest Linux distribution provider.

The new Solaris release is available as a free download from Sun’s Web site and can run on Sun x86 servers, as well as servers sold by Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

Red Hat has recently faced support pricing pressure from other high-profile vendors, most significantly a deal announced in October 2006 by Oracle. Microsoft in November combined forces with Novell, a Red Hat competitor.

Discounted Support

Sun’s Solaris yearly support contracts range from US$240 to $1,180 for one- or two-socket x86 servers, depending on the plan buyers choose.

Sun’s new basic plan costs about 40 percent less, and the premium plan about 50 percent less than equivalent Red Hat plans.

On the Red Hat side, Red Hat Linux ES basic support costs $349 each year per system; the firm’s premium plan costs $2,499.Sun’s new pricing is intended to undercut Red Hat’s support in order to boost Solaris market share.

Solaris Upgrade

Of the improvements in the operating system, the most notable perk in Solaris 10 11/06 is the Solaris Clusters feature for disaster recovery.

Clustering allows servers to work together so that if one fails, other servers can pick up the slack without interruption.

The upgrade fixes previous versions of Solaris, in which the clusters feature did not work as well on x86 processor platforms as on the Sun Sparc platform.

Another notable feature of Solaris 10 11/06 is support for the Xen hypervisor, an open source software interface for virtual machines.

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