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Sun switches on LAMP initiative

August 13, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Sun Microsystems Inc.'s announcement of a new entry-level Linux server yesterday is only the opening salvo in an aggressive new Sun effort to capture market share in the desktop and edge-of-the-network applications market.
Going forward, Sun hopes to take advantage of the wide popularity of open-source software such as Linux, Apache Webserver, MySQL database and PHP scripting language to drive new hardware, software and services sales, said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's recently appointed executive vice president of software.
In a teleconference with analysts today, Schwartz outlined a new Sun initiative called SunLAMP (for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) that's designed to pursue opportunities at the low end of the market.
"LAMP is already running on 100% of the Linux servers out there. All of these technologies are already well developed," Schwartz said.
Sun hopes to tap this interest to position itself as a viable and low-cost option for edge server applications and as an alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s desktop and client technologies, Schwartz said.
"We believe that the Linux market opportunity is going to be extremely disruptive," particularly for Microsoft, Schwartz said.
SunLAMP will give users fully integrated, prepackaged hardware and software bundles for running Linux-based applications, said Thomas Kucharvy, president of Summit Strategies Inc. in Boston.
"They are putting it together so that customers will have a single source [for core Linux software], all of which fits under the Sun management umbrella," Kucharvy said.
"One of the primary differentiators from what IBM and Hewlett-Packard are doing is that Sun is offering proven Linux software that provides integrated management capabilities all tuned to specific preconfigured hardware bundles," Kucharvy said.
The advantage in Sun's approach is that it provides a way for the vendor to provide better support, Kucharvy said. The disadvantage is that "users who want Sun Linux are going to have to assume that Sun will have state-of-the-art hardware, Linux distributions and add-on capabilities and that it is going to be cost-competitive with the other offerings," he added.
The SunLAMP initiative is part of a multipronged Sun software strategy outlined today by Schwartz, who took over his new role July 1.
At the high end, Sun will continue to push its Solaris operating system as a data-center-class alternative to IBM's mainframes, Schwartz said. Sun plans to use Solaris' traditional strengths in areas such as file systems, clustering and high availability to position it as the best platform for consolidating high-end applications, Schwartz said.
In the middle tier, Sun hopes to use its Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based Sun Open Net Environment (ONE) application software stack to help companies make their applications and servicesWeb-enabled. In addition to being available on Sun's SPARC systems, Sun will deliver the Sun ONE software stack on its new line of x86 servers by early next year.
"Sun certainly seems to have gotten their software story together over the past few months," said Shawn Willett, an analyst at Current Analysis in Sterling, Va.
The recent grouping of all Sun software development activities under one organization, the company's growing efforts in the Web services space and its new Linux efforts are all examples of Sun's new focus, he said.
"The rap on them is that it's been hard for them to sell software. But at least now they seem more organized than they have been in several years," Willett added.

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