Sun takes pricing to the citizens

Sun Microsystems on Tuesday plans to kick off its quarterly SunNetwork user conference in Shanghai with new products designed to advance the company's strategy of offering new pricing models to its enterprise customers, including new versions of its Java Desktop and Java Enterprise System software.

The company will also begin offering subscription-based pricing for its StorEdge storage systems, which will range between US$1.95 and $2.49 per G byte per month. Sun will begin offering storage management services on a subscription basis as well, the company said.

The new version 2.0 of the Java Desktop System will have improved management software, which will let administrators remotely administer and distribute updates to users of the software.

Sun designed the software to compete Microsoft's Windows and Office desktop software. It is based on SuSE's Linux distribution and includes Sun's StarOffice productivity suite and the Mozilla Web browser.

The Java Desktop will remain at its original pricing of US$50 per user until December, Sun said, and version 2.0 will now support the Korean, Japanese and Brazilian languages.

On the server side, Sun is expected to reveal details of the per-citizen pricing it is offering government buyers of its Java Enterprise System middleware. The Enterprise System, which costs $100 per employee for enterprise customers, will be priced from between $0.33 to $1.95 per citizen depending on the population of the country in question and on the its ranking according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. This department puts countries into one of three classifications: more developed, less developed and least developed.

The Java Enterprise System will now be supported on the Red Hat Linux operating system as well as Solaris, Sun said.

A number of upcoming technologies that will be on display at the Shanghai conference include a new extremely scalable file system for the Solaris operating system called the Dynamic File System, according to Sun's executive vice president of software, John Loiacono.

The file system has already been in beta testing for a number of months, according to Loiacono. "Although this will not be shipping in a production version until the end of this calendar year, we've actually been shipping the code to customers since last November," he said.

Also being previewed is a new storage system based on technology from Sun's 2002 acquisition of storage networking company Prius Networks Inc. Called the StorEdge 6920, the system will begin shipping by July 16, Sun said.

Additional announcements planned for Tuesday's event are:

*A new Netra 440 carrier grade server, based designed for the telecommunication market.The Netra 440 will support up to 16G bytes of memory and as many as four 1.28GHz UltraSparc IIIi processors, and will be priced starting at $13,395.

*A new line of identity management products based on technology Sun acquired from Waveset Technologies. The new suite will include user provisioning and access management software as well as a directory server.

*New Java System software for managing and storing RFID (radio frequency identification) information.