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All Aboard Sun's Software Train: Orion Redefines Solaris and Its Licensing

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted Feb 26, 2003


Claiming that the technology industry is moving away from a focus on features and functionality, and toward an emphasis on integration of existing systems, Sun Executive Vice President Jonathan Schwarz discussed his company's new software strategy, named "Orion," in a press conference Wednesday. Under its new 'Orion' paradigm, Sun seeks to get its OS and services on the same 'software train' and move to a subscription-based licensing model.

The core concept behind Orion is the introduction of what Sun refers to as a "software train" of highly integrated applications built around its Solaris OE. Applications such as Sun's directory, mail, or instant messaging servers will be synchronized with Solaris' quarterly release cycle and united under a single provisioning interface, essentially expanding the Solaris OE to an aggregation of the services it runs and the core Solaris operating system.

The initial software offerings under the Orion umbrella will include Sun's ONE services, but Schwartz said the company will eventually include other software over the course of the next year or so. He said the company expects to have portal server, instant messaging, e-mail, and clustering offerings in the next 12 months; though storage management offerings may take longer to bring under the Orion umbrella. When pressed for harder time frames, he maintained that Orion "is a journey, not a destination," and that it's "as much a methodology as it is a strategy."

Orion will also cover Sun's offerings under the company's own Linux distribution.

In addition to creating a unified release schedule, Sun will introduce a three-tier licensing structure under which its customers can purchase Solaris and its related services:

  • Sun's traditional licensing model, involving the purchase of individual components, which the company says "most enterprises ... don't enjoy."
  • A periodic, predictable, "subscription" model designed to make purchase planning easier on companies. Sun has yet to announce the payment basis of this model.
  • A metered license, for which Schwartz says Sun is "not all that interested," despite "euphoria" in the IT industry for that model. According to Schwartz, metered licensing discourages use of services. The company hasn't set a time frame for the availability of metered licensing.

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