Sun exec: It"s all about choice and performance

Von Nicolas Callegari

John Foster, volume product manager for EMEA at Sun, recently delivered an address on the company?s current and future product plans, in which he spoke about the recent open sourcing of Solaris, Project Niagara and Sun?s relationship with Microsoft.

Foster said that in the coming release of StarOffice (version 8), the product will use the open document format, which is the strategy being adopted by Microsoft in the new release of MS Office.

It was announced a few weeks ago that Solaris, Sun?s flagship operating system, will be made available as an Open Source project. Foster says that Sun hopes to drive developer adoption of Solaris through this initiative.

"In the end it is all about choice," he says. "We have changed our strategy of single OS, single platform and single processors. In the homogeneous enterprise, we need to offer alternatives."

Sun, now, has a clear-cut strategy for delivering multiple platforms to its clients, including Windows-, Linux- and Solaris-based systems. The company has also made it clear that it intends to push AMD processors on its x86 (Windows and Linux) offerings and Sparc on its Solaris offerings.

On the subject of the Sun/Microsoft relationship, Foster says that the recently-announced partnership aims to help drive better collaboration between .NET and Java applications, solving problems such as the lack of single sign-on, etc.

"We have already been able to demonstrate a collaborated Active Directory/Java Directory," Foster says.

The Sun/Microsoft interoperability agreement could be seen as a shot in the arm for thin-client users, as, with the use of popular technologies such as dynamic tracing and containers in Solaris 10, the need for third party technologies from Citrix and VMWare (for example), may be reduced.

Touching on the company?s strategy for throughput computing, Foster says that the company?s current project, Niagara, which sees multiple threads and cores per processor, is seeing a 15x performance increase over the SPARC III processor, "at the same speed, form factor and electricity usage," he says.

These processors are expected to start shipping early next year, with plans in place to increase the capacity again in project Rock (Niagara II), and to push performance increases to 30x over SPARC III, closer to 2010, Foster says.