Vindication was the theme at Sun Microsystems today as the company announced that database giant Oracle would select the Solaris 10 operating system (OS) as its preferred 64-bit development and deployment platform.
With the announcement, Sun and Oracle are expanding their joint customer base in the x64 and UltraSPARC markets.
According to Oracle, Solaris 10 will be used throughout its development organization. It will also release and ship 64-bit versions of all Oracle products on the Solaris OS prior to or simultaneous with the release of products on other operating systems.
The Oracle partnership is one of largest endorsements to date of Solaris 10, which had been open sourced under Sun's CDDL license in June.
Initially, some analysts were apprehensive about the move, believing it was a last ditch effort by Sun to save Solaris from competitors like IBM with its Chiphopper program.
Other slow points for Solaris were attributed to an expectedly unsympathetic Linux community headed by Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc., which had attempted to tap Solaris 9 customers. Research reports from analyst firms like Union City, Calif.-based Sageza Group Inc. have shown Sun losing Solaris customers to Linux over the past several years.
However, if internal numbers released by Sun are any indication, Solaris 10 has been going strong with more than 3 million licenses distributed in less than one year.
"Oracle recognized several years ago that people are not only moving to open source for low cost, but also that open source gave people a sense of compatibility and investment protection," said Sun Microsystems senior vice president and strategy insight officer Larry Singer. "This move creates an ecosystem around a large community. Sun has always been a large player in open source community, with only one other company that has contributed more than Sun and that was the University of California at Berkley."
Pund-IT Research principal analyst Charles King, was more grounded in his analysis of the news.
To King, the expansion of the Oracle-Sun partnership, now 20 years in the making, was more the result of an abundance of preexisting Sun hardware running Oracle database applications than open source salvation for Solaris.
"To say this vindicates Solaris is a bit of a leap of faith," King said. "Sun open sourced Solaris six months ago and it was reported they had 1,000 developers actively working with the OS. But as far as any applications delivered on that, I haven't heard anything."
But overall, King said being a company with a preferred OS is a good thing for Sun, even if the news does not end up generating new customers on the platform.
"Oracle's choice of Solaris is a realization that there is still lot of Sun hardware out there and lot of those customer run Oracle," he said.
As part of the agreement, Oracle will also have access to key features, including Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), Solaris Containers and TCP/IP performance enhancements.