Sun gets biggest JES deal yet with GM pact

Von Patrick Thibodeau

General Motors Corp. has decided to adopt Sun Microsystems Inc."s Java Enterprise System (JES) middleware stack, citing simplified licensing management and the fact that components comprising the software are preintegrated.

GM already uses some JES components, including its portal server products and the Sun directory, said Fred Killeen, director of systems and chief technology officer at GM"s Information Systems and Services organization. Moving to the full middleware stack, which is priced on a per-employee basis, offers the automaker improved licensing management and addresses the need to deal with multiple maintenance contracts. The change will also help GM -- which has about 320,000 full-time employees-- reduce the number of methods now used to count licenses.

"You count the licensing five different ways depending on which product it is -- one is per object, one is per named user, one is per CPU. ... In a lot of ways, this simplifies the administration for us," said Killeen. "It actually simplifies a lot of things for us."

Killeen said the JES suite"s preintegration and pretesting was also behind the GM move. "Otherwise, we spend significant dollars with integrators to integrate these components," he said. "What we"re driving to [accomplish] is better value for our development investment and [to] focus it on delivering application functionality to the users, versus integration of the components."

Sun charges US$140 per employee per year for the full suite of products, but neither GM or Sun would disclose the pricing of this particular deal.

Another factor that helped Sun to win the deal is its work with Microsoft Corp. to improve product integration. Killeen recently appeared with Sun and Microsoft officials to lend GM"s backing to the efforts by the two companies, which last year signed a multiyear agreement to end their antitrust battle and work on product integration.

GM relies heavily on products from both Sun and Microsoft, and Killeen said the automaker expects to get "better integration between Sun and Microsoft infrastructures and reduce that kind of investment we need to make in doing custom integration."

Sun said the GM deal increases the total number of JES subscribers to nearly 1 million.