Customer sees sense in Sun's Orion

Sun is to ship all of its key software products packaged with the Solaris operating system in synchronised quarterly releases.

The vendor plans to offer all of its infrastructure products, such as the Sun ONE (open net environment) web server, application server and server management products, together with Solaris — Sun's flavour of Unix — under a plan called project Orion. By including all of its software packaged as one product, Sun is hoping to make life easier on customers trying to manage myriad applications with differing licensing and pricing schemes.

Air New Zealand IT manager Andrew Care thinks on the face of it the programme is a good one. He says the airline has had issues with complexity and Orion will help.

However, he is not so reassured about pricing.

"We haven't completed the comparison of old versus new and my suspicion is that this could just be a way to get us to order and pay faster. Our environment is such that we can take advantage of it and we will subject it to our pricing analysis. I certainly give them full marks for trying to make it easier."

Inland Revenue's technical and operations manager, Don Burns, says IRD has a significant number of Sun servers running both Solaris 2.6 and Solaris 8 and change management is always an issue when deploying new software releases and patches.

"The Sun Orion programme, whereby enterprise software patches and upgrades are integrated, aligned and released on a regular basis, is expected to result in a simplified release cycle, a reduction in complexity and an overall reduction in the total cost of ownership to Inland Revenue when deploying new software releases."

Sun's Asia-Pacific managing director for software sales, Duk Chun, says organisations have silos of products with different renewal cycles, pricing schemes, standards and interfaces for administration and operation.

The Sun ONE suite, which promises to let customers build a web services-ready infrastructure, consists of a range of products: the management stack, integration and application server solutions, EAI and B2B servers, a portal server and set of communications products. This makes for complex environments. Sun's answer is Orion: reducing the headache of implementing and managing them all by integrating them, bundling them with the Solaris operating system and putting them on the same release cycle. Many of the products will also start to have a common look and feel. The first target release date is September.

Chun says customers shouldn't confuse bundling with being free.

"All the products will be bundled as an easy distribution mechanism. When a customer chooses to turn on the software there will be a fee."

The pricing model is likely to be finalised by the middle of the year but will probably be an annual subscription plan.

Christine Stevenson of the Ministry of Social Development says the ministry doesn't intend to use the Sun bundle as it will continue to tailor its Sun ONE deployment to meet requirements.

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