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Sun unveils new Java systems, pricing

Sun executives say new Java systems and pricing structures, detailed Tuesday at the SunNetwork user conference, are an attempt to end integration nightmares and licensing and pricing confusion.

SAN FRANCISCO -- In its new campaign to "recall cost and complexity," Sun Microsystems Inc. opened its 2003 SunNetwork user conference with the unveiling of six new Java-bundled systems and a simplified per-employee, per-year pricing structure. Leading the six-pack is Sun Java Enterprise System, an integrated network services architecture in one box, with a price tag of $100 per employee, per year.

Essentially, Sun has put its 225 software products into six boxes, each an integrated system. "This is a radical simplification," said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president for Sun's software group, during the event's opening presentation. With integrated, one-product, one-DVD packages and per-employee pricing, Sun intends to end integration nightmares, licensing hassles and pricing confusion.

Sun's campaign to recall cost and complexity harkens to California's recall election, said Scott McNealy, Sun CEO. Like the election, it's a result of user dissatisfaction. Customers have been telling Sun that IT system cost and complexity is driving them crazy. Sun responded to that feedback by creating integrated systems packages and a new pricing model, he said.

Buying system components and integrating them is not cost-effective or productive, McNealy said. He asked: "Do you really need to have a unique instance of a data center?" Instead, move to a utility model, where a service provider such as Sun builds, tests and either hosts or delivers a system. "Get gift-wrapped software," he said.

The computer industry has done its users a disservice by making computing too complex. It's so complex, he said, that the school system considers it necessary to teach his third-grade son about programming. "People are so geeky about their computers because we have forced them to be," he said.

Sun's new pricing strategy is designed to right another wrong, said McNealy. "The world has been a little disappointed in our industry," he said. "We're overcharging."

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Schwartz admitted that he can't even figure out the industry's pricing model. "You can't keep track of what your business is costing you today," he said. Also, as a business grows, its IT systems cost more and more. "Where's the economies of scale in that?" he asked.

The Sun Java Enterprise System's $100 per-user, per-year pricing covers Sun's services for migration and deployment, training and support. In addition, "we will not charge a penny more if you deploy it to all of your customers," Schwartz said. "This is a revolution in how we think about software."

Four of the software system packages will be available later this year, and two are in the final stages of development. The new Java systems and their pricing are:

-- The six-pack's flagship bundle, Sun Java Enterprise System, runs on Solaris, Solaris X86 and Linux. It ties together Sun's network identity, portal, communications, messaging, Web and application servers.

-- Sun's desktop initiative, Project Mad Hatter, has been realized in Sun Java Desktop System. A suite of client applications, it's promised to be virus-free and interoperable; it will run on x86 and SPARC-based hardware, and with Solaris or Linux operating systems. The package includes Sun's new StarOffice 7 office suite, as well security authentication via Sun's Java Card smart card. Priced at $100 per desktop, it can also be added to Java Enterprise System for $50 per employee, per year.

-- N1 is a new operator's platform for virtualization and provisioning services for storage, servers and blade servers. Also, the new N1 CenterRun 4.0 application virtualization and provisioning software enables simple deployment of shared services. Pricing wasn't announced.

-- Sun packaged its developers' tools in Java Studio Enterprise, which contains an Integrated Development Environment, the full Sun Java Enterprise System runtime and other tools. It's priced at $5 per employee as an add-on to the Sun Java Enterprise System.

-- Sun Java Mobility System, which is in development, is a platform for services delivery to Java-enabled mobile devices. More than 200 million such devices are being used today in phones, handhelds and other portable devices.

-- Sun's Java Cards are in use today, but when Sun Java Card System comes out, it will offer an integrated platform for authenticating services for secure e-commerce and service delivery to Java Cards everywhere. More than 500 million Java Cards are in use today by customers of such businesses as Target and Starbucks.

The new bundles and pricing will help users stop thinking about components and their assembly, McNealy said. It will help IT shops become information management shops, which will in turn increase the IT shops' productivity and lower costs. "You don't have to invent, build, own and operate your computer system," he concluded.

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