Sun's CEO pushes mainframe attack

Sun Microsystems continued its attack against IBM's mainframe and server businesses, attempting to convince users that it makes more sense to buy hardware from a company that offers a single operating system and chip technology on all of its hardware.

"(IBM) has more answers. That's good. Complexity is its friend. We think you guys have better things to do," said Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer at Sun, during a speech at the Oracle OpenWorld.

IBM offers one of the industry's largest portfolios of servers based on its own Power4 processors and Intel's processors in machines that run the AIX, Linux and Windows operating systems. McNealy claimed that because his company focuses solely on the Solaris operating system and UltraSparc processors, a great deal of complexity for users is eliminated because they can work and develop on a single platform.

In addition, McNealy touted his company's tight development relationship with Oracle and the two companies' joint certification program as another way for users to simplify their lives. Sun and Oracle offer customers preconfigured sets of hardware and software at a discounted price.

Keeping with that program, Sun and Oracle launched a new hardware and software pairing designed to pull users away from mainframes and onto Sun's high-end Sun Fire 15K server. IBM dominates the mainframe market, and Sun has been looking to steal parts of this business for some time with its Unix servers.

Over the next 60 days, the two vendors will give users an implementation guide for running the Oracle9i Real Application Clusters software on the Sun Fire 15K, Sun said in a statement. Sun is pushing users to link two or more Sun Fire 15Ks with its StorEdge 9900 arrays and the Oracle software, positioning this combination as a mainframe alternative.

As with their other certified configurations, Sun and Oracle will jointly support the pairing.

"We are offering what we think is a very interesting mainframe alternative," McNealy said. "I am pushing my company very hard on some standard configurations. You might get a little more product than you need, but you get it at a lower cost."

Users can expect hardware vendors to continue the trend toward making application server software free on servers, McNealy said.

"An application server is not an industry," he said. "It is a feature. That's the way it is."

Sun has said it plans to bundle the iPlanet Application Server with its Solaris operating system next year.

As usual, McNealy had harsh words for rivals such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq Computer and Microsoft.

During his keynote, McNealy demonstrated a combination Java card and biometric scanner that could be used at airports to check the identity of passengers. When the computer asked McNealy to place his right middle finger on the scanner, he said, referring to Microsoft's headquarters in Washington, "I haven't done this since I was in Redmond."

McNealy passed the security test, of course, but another user was not so lucky. McNealy inserted another Java card to show what happens when someone fails the test, and the screen displayed a picture of Bill Gates with the message, "Sorry, Mr Gates, convicted monopolists are not permitted on board."

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