Sun targets AIX with new campaign

It's hoping to capitalize on the IBM/SCO fight

Looking to capitalize on IBM's legal dispute with The SCO Group Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. is readying a new AIX-to-Solaris migration program that will kick off tomorrow with full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal and the San Jose Mercury News.

The advertisements, designed by New York-based J. Walter Thompson Co., will obliquely refer to SCO's $1 billion lawsuit with IBM and its recent announcement that it had terminated IBM's AIX licensing agreement (see story), and they will present Sun's Solaris as a safer version of Unix than IBM's AIX.

"Attention AIX Users: Sun is Here to Help ... Unfortunately, our friends in Blue have a problem with licensing contracts that could make things very expensive for anyone running AIX," the ads will read.

The purpose of the campaign is "to remind people that while others may not be as committed to the Unix platform, Sun is," said Larry Singer, vice president of Sun's global information systems strategy office.

Under the program, Sun will offer free two-day assessments to customers looking to migrate to Solaris from AIX. Then, working through its iForce service centers, Sun's professional services group will team up with independent software vendors and systems integrators to port AIX systems to Solaris.

Sun expects to roll out similar migration campaigns for a number of other rival systems during the next few months. Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Tru64, VMS and HP3000 operating systems are being targeted, as is Windows NT, for which Sun will be offering a migration program for Solaris on x86.

Sun had originally planned to roll out its Tru64-to-Solaris migration program first, Singer said, but as SCO's lawsuit with IBM remained unresolved, the company decided to move up the AIX program. "We thought we'd just pull it out a little earlier for [AIX] because of the opportunity that IBM has handed us," said Singer.

There is a difference between Sun and IBM's Unix licensing agreement with SCO, according to Gordon Haff, a senior analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H. Because Sun "had the foresight to basically buy out full rights to Unix on Solaris, it is basically unaffected by any of this and therefore presenting itself as a safe haven for any customers," he said.

SCO executives agreed with Haff's assessment. "They have broader rights, and they haven't trampled on the rights that they do have," SCO CEO Darl McBride said of Sun. "We have had a very good relationship with Sun over the years. They've paid over $100 million to get the licensing rights for Solaris."

The Tru64 migration program will be the next to roll out. It will be available in July, Singer said.

IBM had no comment on the ads, other than to say that its contract with Lindon, Utah-based SCO "cannot be terminated," said an IBM spokeswoman.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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