Sun touts new security software package

Sun Microsystems said Tuesday that it will begin offering a security software package to commercial customers that was originally developed for military and government intelligence use. It also announced plans to improve security features in a yet-to-be-released next version of Solaris.

The security system, called Trusted Solaris, can also run on the company’s Intel-based systems. It provides role-based access control at the root level. Access to a system root means having the ability to access all file directories in that root. Trusted Solaris divides up or limits root access by user and creates audit trails, company officials said.

Although Trusted Solaris has been commercially available, the company hasn't marketed it broadly and interest has largely been limited to some financial services companies. Beginning this spring, Sun intends to make a version that includes firewalls and other access controls. It will start at US$999 for a standard desktop edition.

In Solaris 10, the company’s next version of its operating system, Sun will introduce a security process called "containers" to tightly limit privacy and security around individual end users. Sun introduced Solaris 9 last year; there is typically a two- to three-year wait between new releases of its operating system, a company official said.

Jean Bozman, an analyst at IDC, said the security offering should broaden Sun’s government base and add commercial customers. In its offering, the company "is taking something that works and is making it more available," she said.

The Trusted Solaris announcement was part of list of new hardware and software services offerings made public Tuesday, as part of the company’s new approach in announcing its network computing initiatives on a quarterly basis.

Sun, in making regular product announcements, is trying to drive home to its commercial customers that it’s producing complete, integrated solutions. We are "slowly evolving the computing industry from one that ships piston rings to one that ships cars," said Scott McNealy, Sun’s chairman, CEO and president.

The focus of Tuesday’s announcements was largely on lower-end offerings, one area in the struggling hardware sector that has shown some growth. In a recent analyst report on Sun, investment firm Merrill Lynch & Co. said that while Sun’s installed base is "reasonably stable," the company needs to get into more IT shops, "which is where its software and low-end server strategy can help."

Sun announced some two-way processor products in its Sun Fire line, which Mark Canepa, the company’s executive vice president, said are comparable in price to server products made by PC vendors.

New storage hardware includes the StoreEdge 6120 array and the 6320, priced at US$24,300 and US$67,600, respectively.

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