Last week Sun Microsystems released details of more than 30 technology innovations at its Network Computer 04 event in Shanghai. These included a second release of the Sun Java Desktop System, and a preview of the new Solaris 10 Operating System.
In addition, the company announced details of new storage software, systems and highly flexible utility pricing options designed to alter and simplify the management of data throughout its lifecycle. Sun also revealed new offerings in the identity management space, including Sun Java System Identity Manager, Sun Java System Access Manager and the Sun Java System Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
However, the new joint agreement with Fujitsu covering the development of future Solaris servers really grabs the attention.
Fujitsu and Sun have worked together in the server business for many years. Currently Fujitsu offers its Primepower systems running Sun's Solaris operating system. These servers are based on its own RISC architecture Sparc64 chips. The company also sells certain Sun systems that utilise Sun's Ultrasparc risc processors.
Under the terms of the new deal the two companies plan to bring a common range of servers to market by mid 2006, designated the Advanced Product Line (APL). These systems will eventually replace Sun's Sun Fire and Fujitsu's Primepower server offerings. During the transition period to the new line, Sun will include existing Fujitsu Primepower servers in its offerings to customers. Both organisations will receive a share of the revenue whenever either sells an APL system, although no detail on the split has been revealed.
The APL range will include servers based on both Sun's Rock and Niagara chipsets and Fujitsu's forthcoming Sparc64 VI processors. The two companies will work together on the design of high-end systems while Sun alone will design the low-end offerings.
This is an interesting development and could deliver significant financial benefits to both Sun and Fujitsu if the two companies can manage the design programmes effectively. Equally important will be the joint marketing of APL that will clearly have to take place. We shall have to watch closely as the two organisations start down this road. It will also be fascinating to see if this will be the first of many joint ventures between the two.
Sun Microsystems has had a few rough quarters financially but, taken together, this raft of announcements makes it clear that the company is continuing to fight its ground. CEO Scott McNealy is still as assertive and buoyant as ever; and the recent move of Jonathan Schwartz from head of software to COO indicates that Sun will have plenty to say for some time to come.