Sun Microsystems Inc. yesterday kicked open its software doors, making its Java Enterprise System (JES) middleware suite, N1 management product and developer's tools freely available. It also plans to combine them with its free, open source Solaris operating system to form what it will call the Sun Enterprise System.
Noting that "free is the lowest barrier to entry," Sun president Jonathan Schwartz explained during a teleconference that the move was designed to disseminate Sun software to the widest possible audience. Sun will make its money by selling services and support into a larger user footprint. The company turned Solaris into a free open source offering in June and now boasts 3.4 million Solaris 10 registered licenses on top of 10,000 OpenSolaris registered community members.
Schwartz said developers are critical elements in the software, both in terms of the feedback they provide and their importance in adopting new technology.
"These are folks who certainly don't have access to a lot of money, but they have the ability to change the landscape," he said. "We've got to create a developer opportunity before we see a market opportunity."
John Loiacono, executive vice president of software for Sun, said, "We're getting back to being disruptive."
JES includes six software suites -- high availability, identity management, Web infrastructure, application platform, messaging and integration. Loiacono said the identity management and integration suites would be first in line to build out open source communities.
Sun only jumped into the integration business this summer with the acquisition of enterprise application integration (EAI) vendor SeeBeyond Inc., but Loiacono underscored how critical it has become in the software industry.
"The game now is in integration," he said.
The development tools include Sun Studio 11, Sun Java Studio Creator and Sun Java Studio Enterprise 8, offering drag-and-drop development tools and pattern-based development.
The move suddenly puts Sun on course to offer an open SOA platform. That would put it into direct competition with JBoss Inc., which had been staking out that territory as its own, but JBoss CEO Marc Fleury welcomed Sun's announcement, saying he believed it will help to expand the open source software market.
Fleury argued that the move of an established vendor like Sun to the open source realm instead puts pressure on the rest of the old guard to follow.
"Every major player in software now has to have an open source strategy to match Sun," he said. "Sun just detonated a nuclear bomb in the [revenue stream] of IBM and the other traditional vendors by open sourcing SeeBeyond."
Fleury said JBoss isn't focused on EAI or connectors so that Sun will not be predating a market in which JBoss currently plays. When JBoss enters the integration market next year, Fleury noted, it will focus on the Java Business Integration specification and an open source enterprise service bus.
"On our core business this is a non-event, but the domino effect Jonathan [Schwartz] has unleashed in the industry is going to force a lot of companies to change the way they do business," he said.
Schwartz said JES currently makes $100 million a year for Sun and that he expects the free and open model will increase that revenue. He termed the standard software licensing model a "barrier to revenue."
"Customers don't pay for the product, they pay for the support for their business," he said.