The latest tidbits on Sun deals and product news
While the previous version of Trusted Solaris (1.2) was based on SunOS 4.1.3, according to product line manager Joe Alexander, version 2.5 brings the product into the world of Solaris. It's based on Solaris 2.5.1, says Alexander, but has "stronger access control, stronger authentication, stronger permissions to the entire product." He notes that the Trusted Solaris 2.5 has 98 privileges defined, as opposed to the 38 in regular Solaris.
The break between Trusted Solaris 1.2 and 2.5 is "basically the same break that happened from SunOS to Solaris," says Alexander, though he claims Sun has made sure there is compatibility between applications.
The product uses the Common Desktop Environment (CDE) and Solstice AdminSuite. Alexander says that a feature called "Profile Manager" lets administrators set up user profiles for different user groups within the network. "You can set a profile up for a software development group, human resources, marketing..." he says and then apply that profile to individual users rather than re-defining their privileges, step-by-step. Using this, new users can be brought on in about 30 minutes, as opposed to the three hours required by version 1.2, says Alexander.
Alexander says Sun hopes to bundle a firewall with Trusted Solaris by the fall.
Trusted Solaris lists for $350 (desktop) and $3,400 (server), but Sun's current promotional pricing is far lower ($150 and $1,400).
Zander says Sun's goal is "to be one of the top three open storage companies in the industry."
Last May, Sun signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire Encore's Infinity SP line of storage processors for $185 million. Last week a definitive agreement was signed between Sun and Encore.
The deal is expected to be approved at Encore's shareholder meeting this September. Zander says of the negotiations, "there's nothing that we see as outstanding here. It's just a matter of going through the [SEC] regulations." That should take 60-90 days, he says. Sun's sales and service groups will sell and support the product "immediately" after the deal closes, he says.
For the $185 million price-tag, Sun will get a storage product that lets mainframe and open systems share a single copy of storage data as well as Encore's storage products facilities in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. An undetermined number of Encore's staff would transfer to the Sun payroll.
Zander says the Encore facility will be Sun's first non-sales facility in the state.
--Robert McMillan, SunWorld
CA will be offering a version of its Unicenter TNG Framework, announced earlier this week, that will run on Sun's Solaris operating system, said CA chairman and CEO Charles Wang. In addition, CA is working with Sun to integrate Sun's existing Solstice management products, including SyMON and Enterprise Storage Manager, into the TNG Framework.
CA also announced that within 90 days it will release a software agent written in Java that will let Unicenter TNG manage devices running the JavaOS or virtual machine, including Sun's JavaStation network computer (NC) and Netra J, its NC server.
"Our clients are increasingly relying on Sun products for enterprise computing," Wang said. TNG's Java support will also let any browser supporting JVM 1.1 be used as a TNG console. This means that browser users will be able to access all of TNG's remote control commands, using the browser as the interface. It also means that the console can be accessed from devices other than an NT workstation, according to Sun Microsystems Computer Company market development manager Ajay Anand.
The companies demonstrated the Java TNG agent running on a JavaStation and monitoring an NT server, and in so doing, Sun President and CEO Scott McNealy said, revealed the true potential of Java.
"I think what this demo shows is Java doing real work," McNealy said. "We're not doing animated Web pages in a browser here."
CA had already launched a full-blown version of Unicenter TNG that runs on Solaris. But the plans announced today will, in addition to adding Java browser interface capabilities, give Solaris users the opportunity to run the TNG Framework. This is a version of the software that provides a basic management-services platform, and which CA currently is offering free to users of products from selected CA third-party partners.
McNealy said little about how the new TNG capabilities will affect Sun's plans for its own Solstice management products. "We will continue to invest heavily in network and system management capabilities, and partner with CA, and may the best product win in the marketplace," he said.
Representatives from Sun's Solstice business unit had no comment on the announcement.
Sun issued a statement that it endorses CA's Unicenter TNG as "a preferred enterprise management solution."
In an interview with IDG editors after the announcement, with Wang present, McNealy stressed that Unicenter TNG is "a preferred, but not the preferred," platform.
"Solaris isn't the preferred platform for him," McNealy added, referring to Wang. "He's got another one he's got to worry about, and that's NT."
The companies are providing customers with choices, McNealy said. "I think customers are starting to consolidate around Solaris and NT for the platform on the server side and around a few management architectures on the middleware side."
One aspect of CA and Sun collaboration that has not yet been hammered out is a delivery vehicle for the TNG Framework running on Solaris.
At its user conference here this week, CA has announced 13 third-party vendors that will bundle software or hardware with the TNG Framework, and yesterday HP announced it will be bundling Framework with all its HP/UX platforms. But McNealy's endorsement of the new TNG Framework right now does not include the promise of a bundling deal.
"That's not our business model -- we don't distribute software," McNealy told IDG editors. "We're going to keep staying focused on not being a distribution channel or a grocery store. We're not a systems integrator, we're not a reseller."
Wang said he had been hoping for something stronger.
"I would like, obviously, if you get Solaris, you boot it up, [and Unicenter is] there -- boom," Wang told IDG editors.
McNealy stopped short of saying he would never agree to a bundling deal, and both executives downplayed the lack of a bundling agreement right now.
"When customers demand it, we'll do it," said McNealy. "Bundling doesn't change our strategy -- we're going to support these guys like crazy, we're going to support their customers like crazy."
With no announcement of a way to deliver TNG Framework for Solaris, some analysts indicated that today's announcement lacked real meat.
"If there's no bundling deal, I'm not sure what the news is," since CA has already stated that it is supporting Java, said Randy Perry, an analyst with International Data Corp.
"The real news," McNealy told IDG later, "is that the companies are booking orders."
Revenue of CA products running on Sun platforms is up 900 percent from a year ago, said McNealy. "Maybe that's why I'm here this year," he said. He declined to give specific revenue figures.
Lacking a bundling deal with Sun, CA will take responsibility for getting the TNG Framework to Solaris customers at no cost, Wang told IDG, though he did not detail what the method would be. Other CA officials suggested that TNG customers would be able to get updates over the World Wide Web.
CA also announced today that it will work with Sun on the evolution of its Java Management API (JMAPI) and committed to keeping Unicenter TNG current with this specification. The software company will also work with Sun on Java application registration and instrumentation, hammering out security and monitoring issues so that Java applications can be managed like other programs in the enterprise, officials said.
--Marc Ferranti and Cara Cunningham, IDG News Service, New York Bureau. With additional reporting by SunWorld staff
After showing a video in which he demonstrated his own Webtop software environment consisting of SunSoft HotViews software on a JavaStation, McNealy briefly talked about what he wants to see on his desktop.
"There are a few things I don't like about the current environment," said McNealy. "I can turn my [machine] off and trash my applications. I have to get them all back in the morning," he said.
"In the future version, we're going to have 'lock screens' ... so the applications can just stay there all night. Just turn off the CRT and leave the JavaStation on," McNealy said. In this scenario, software on the desktop machine can be updated during the night, he said, though he offered no details of these new capabilities, nor did he give a timetable for release.
McNealy also said one of the tasks lying immediately ahead for Sun is to get Java-based application environments performing faster. Right now, Java-based applications run slower than those written in C++, he said. JavaSoft's HotSpot Java software, due in the fourth quarter, will offer performance improvements derived from compiler technology and should help get Java applications running even faster than software based on C++, said McNealy.
McNealy also noted that forthcoming suites from Corel Corp. and Lotus Development Corp. will round out the applications available on Java.
It came as no surprise that the head of Sun focused on Java, nor that his speech was peppered with anti-Microsoft quips. McNealy said there can be no confusion stemming from different flavors of Java.
"Everyone says Microsoft's going to mess up 'write once, run everywhere' -- they're not," said McNealy. "If I have a cup of coffee and I add three drops of poison to that cup of Java, what do I have? Windows."
He added: "Either you have Java or Windows -- you can't bifurcate [Java]."
Addressing an audience composed of database administrators, programmers and network managers, McNealy cited figures for the cost of ownership of a JavaStation compared to that of workstations and PCs laden with applications and peripherals.
"We think the total cost of ownership of going to JavaStations is about $2,000 per year, versus the current $7,000 a year we're facing with fat-client ... Sparc Solaris desktops," said McNealy. "And you all are facing about an $11,000 to $29,000 a year hit to manage you PCs."
Noting that many of the systems managers here are facing budget cuts, McNealy exhorted them not to upgrade Windows machines: "Don't do it -- just freeze. Instead of upgrading, 'side-grade' your PCs -- side-grade them with a java browser."
Corporate developers can write applications from this point forward in Java, McNealy said. "They will run fast, with no memory leaks, and ... have better protection from viruses."
Though most of McNealy's speech was old news to many in the audience, some attendees said they worked mainly in the mainframe environment and learned something from the keynote.
"I work installing mainframe software, so all of this was new to me," said Pat Leonard, a technical support specialist with the State of Arizona department of administration in Phoenix. "It's good for me to hear this because the mainframe world and the PC world are being combined, and I need to learn about this technology."
Another attendee said he is glad the industry has an alternative to Microsoft on the desktop.
"There was a lot of joking against Microsoft, but I'm happy to have new technology that succeeds besides Microsoft," said Gustavo Gonzalez, director of Integra, a software distributor in Asuncion, Paraguay. "Otherwise we would have a monopoly, which we don't want."
--Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service, New York Bureau
Plans for Java include extending or enhancing in-house developed applications, creating or extending Intranet applications, and developing completely new applications, according to the study, "Java in the Enterprise," conducted by Zona Research Inc. The study was commissioned by Softbank Forums in conjunction with its Java Internet Business Expo, to be held in New York Aug. 25-28.
More than three-quarters of the sample of 279 companies, each with 250 or more computer users, indicated that within a year they will use Java to Web-enable application interfaces, ease inter-organizational communications, and give users access to back-office data.
However, the study sampled only companies that are currently deploying or have plans to deploy Java, Zona analysts said. As such, the study does not measure the size of the Java market but rather how and why it is deployed in companies, according to Zona analysts.
"What this [study] indicates is that Java is being used to extend existing application functionality and create new applications," said Clay Ryder, chief analyst at Zona. "Companies see it as incredibly important that Java be used to leverage existing applications; it's not a rip and replace strategy."
The decision to use Java at the sample companies reflects a shift in industry thinking about Internet and intranet strategic development, he said.
According to the survey, plans to develop and deploy Java are increasingly being driven by chief information officers or other high-level business managers. Thirty-two percent of the companies surveyed reported that plans to deploy Java were "top-down" decisions.
"Thirty-two percent is still a minority but it's still kind of high given that the intranets were tactically done -- in 80 or 90 percent of the cases they just sprouted up. So the decision to use Java is a strategic view in comparison," Ryder said.
The research also showed an unexpected perception of Java and the network computer (NC). Though 46 percent of the sample indicated their companies were likely or very likely to deploy NCs, Java was not stated to be the driving force behind NC adoption.
Again, this shows that companies view Java development as key to making strategic investments within the IT infrastructure work, said Ryder. "The applications being planned involve delivering information to a variety of people, and manipulating workflow and data-store type solutions," he said. "The gist of this study is that it's early in the Java game but people are serious about playing."
For vendors, this means the opportunity to make sales is now, he said.
For users, Java holds the promise of solving interapplication and cross-platform connectivity problems, but there are a few clouds on the horizon, Ryder noted.
There is a possibility that Java could splinter into various flavors, like Unix, and spoil the cross-platform story for users, he said. "Sun doesn't have a consistent version of Java out there for all the platforms," Ryder said. "That's not good."
While the differences in JVM (Java virtual machine) on different platforms may be minor, Sun needs to get consistent versions of the JVM out as soon as possible, Ryder said.
Findings in the Zona report include:
--by Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service, New York Bureau
The company will deliver its Enterprise Java Bean specification and announce features of the next-generation Bean Development Kit (BDK), code-named Glasgow, according to officials at JavaSoft, the Sun unit developing the Java programming language.
JavaSoft's Enterprise Java Beans are designed to help software developers build business logic into applications that are transaction-aware.
One user likened the arrival of JavaSoft's Platform for the Enterprise to the implementation of the production line at the Ford Motor Co. earlier this century. "This means that you can have some sections of your company working on, let's say, security beans or business logic beans," said Rajesh Lalwani, president of Baseline Concepts Inc., a World Wide Web task automation company based in Cupertino, CA. "This enables you to treat these issues as black box issues."
Also at Internet World, JavaSoft will announce features of its Java Transaction Server, which is based on the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), according to Sharada Achanta, JavaSoft's product line manager for Enterprise Java. "We have taken CORBA's Object Transaction Server and built a Java binder."
The specification for Glasgow will be frozen in the next 30 to 60 days, according to JavaSoft officials.
"JavaSoft is really targeting the independent software developer rather than corporate developers with this software," said Evan Quinn, an analyst at International Data Corp., in Mountain View, CA.
Not all ISVs, however, are convinced that the Platform for the Enterprise is ready for business-level applications.
"Our strategy is to move all our software on to ActiveX first," said Terry Golesworthy, president of Boston-based terminal emulation company Software Development Tools Inc. "We think that JavaSoft is about six to nine months away from delivering software that we can base our business on. So at that time we will bring our software over from ActiveX to Java."
JavaSoft is slated to formally launch its Java Foundation Classes today, according to officials. The foundation classes are a set of application programming interfaces made up of Netscape Communications Corp.'s Internet Foundation Class, JavaSoft's Abstract Windowing Toolkit and IBM Java technology.
The Java Foundation Classes will be delivered in three installments, giving developers a lightweight user interface with features such as event queuing, components such as tree views and additional server functions, according to Eric Chu, product marketing manager for the Java Development Kit.
--Niall McKay, IDG News Service, San Francisco Bureau
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