Sun pairs Unix with open-source stack

Sun plans to spotlight a variation on the LAMP mixture to compete with Red Hat

You've heard of LAMP, the popular open-source infrastructure stack featuring the Linux operating system, the Apache Web server, MySQL's database, and the Perl, Python and PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) scripting languages.

Well, Sun plans to spotlight a variation on that mixture, replacing Linux with its own Solaris Unix OS as part of its Solaris + AMP, or SAMP, stack for building Web applications. Featured in Sun's rollout on Tuesday are versions of the open-source AMP components optimized for the Solaris 10 OS plus Sun developer tools.

The Solaris + AMP unveiling is part of a multifaceted announcement of free development offerings to debut this week with Sun hoping to sell support as a way to generate revenues.

While stressing that Sun was not trying to compete with LAMP itself, Dan Roberts, Sun's director of developer tools marketing, did note that Sun believes its Solaris platform presents a viable competitor to Linux. Developers can build to Apache, MySQL, and the scripting languages but deploy their applications on Solaris or the open-source variant, OpenSolaris, to get advantages such as reliability and security, he said.

"We're very much competing [with] Red Hat," and Suse, Roberts said.

The company is featuring the PostgreSQL object-relational database as part of the stack along with MySQL. Sun tools and other open-source technologies also are included, and step-by-step instructions on deploying the stack are offered.

Analysts recognized Sun's Solaris + AMP effort as a way to entice open-source developers to the Sun camp.

"They're trying to make it more comfortable for those who had been working in Linux to consider coming to Solaris as an alternative," said analyst Jean Bozman of IDC.

Although IDC does not rank operating systems, Sun does have tools in its Solaris arsenal, such as the DTrace tracing framework and ZFS (Zettabyte File System), that could be attractive to Linux developers, Bozman said.

"It's very clear that Sun is going after the same set of developers in the open-source community," as Linux, she said.

Making a stronger case for Sun, Andi Mann, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, said Sun with Solaris + AMP had taken the best parts of the LAMP stack, swapped out Linux with Solaris, and added other open-source technologies.

"In terms of standing a chance against LAMP, absolutely, I think it's a very strong offering," Mann said.

But Sun faces an obstacle in that Solaris still is considered by some to be a proprietary Unix variant, even if that is not true anymore, Mann said. "It's going to be difficult just to get mind share over Linux," he said.

Users of Solaris + AMP also can avail themselves to Sun's Try and Buy program, in which customers can try out Sun hardware for 60 days.

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