New Sun Solaris positioned for NT users

Sun Microsystems Inc. last week unveiled the latest version of its Solaris Easy Access Server, a product that enables organizations to take advantage of the stability and scalability of its Unix operating system while maintaining the familiarity of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT.

Easy Access Server 3.0 lets companies using Windows NT deploy large, powerful server systems running the Solaris Unix operating system without having to overhaul their existing network infrastructures or retrain their system administrators, according to Tom Goguen, product line manager for Solaris marketing at Sun.

"The primary focus is on interoperability [of Solaris and NT]," Goguen said. In addition, Easy Access Server 3.0 "makes Solaris extremely easy to use and manage in PC environments," he said.

Scheduled to begin shipping next month, Easy Access Server 3.0 includes Sun's PC NetLink 1.1 tool, which makes Solaris servers look like Windows NT servers to end users.

In addition, PC NetLink is the tool that lets Solaris servers run native Windows NT network services, such as authentication, directory, and file and print services.

"You can set up an entire NT domain without having to use NT servers," Goguen said.

According to Sun, the product will help it capture business from a growing number of companies that are beginning to consolidate and cluster server systems to reduce total cost of ownership and boost performance to handle World Wide Web-based transaction services. To date, more than 50 percent of the largest electronic-commerce enterprises are run using Solaris, Goguen said.

"With NT, you are pretty much limited to small four processor [server] systems," Goguen said. "Solaris is a much more stable platform [and] offers higher availability." In fact, Solaris is currently scalable to 64 processors. "NT is but one client in what is rapidly becoming a multiclient world," Goguen added.

John Leahy, acting director of marketing for Sun Microsystems Federal Inc., said Easy Access Server 3.0 is Sun's way of recognizing that government agencies have made a large investment in NT but that they still require servers that are more reliable, scalable and cost effective.

"With Easy Access Server, we're offering government agencies the ability to deploy Solaris and bring more reliability and scalability to their NT networks," Leahy said.

The movement toward using Solaris to power NT networks began throughout government when the company first released its line of Solaris workgroup servers, which Leahy characterized as one of Sun Federal's best-selling products. "We've continued to build on Sun's interoperability with NT," Leahy said. "Now the government customer has a choice."

Dan Kusnetzky, program director for Operating Environments and Serverware Research at International Data Corp., said the push behind Easy Access Server 3.0 is the result of Sun customers convincing the company "that they can't put the customer in the middle [of NT and Solaris] anymore."

In addition, Kusnetzky said, although the company may face marketing challenges in terms of getting their message out to NT loyalists, the new operating system has many merits, including advanced clustering capability, higher reliability and the ability to support large numbers of users and highly sophisticated network environments.

"Solaris is much more scalable and reliable than NT today," Kusnetzky said. "Sun's approach puts them right on top of where people want to go [with their networks]."

The decision facing most network administrators, according to Kusnetzky, is whether to go with two very large, stable and reliable Solaris-based servers or choose to deploy 30 or 40 smaller NT servers, each assigned and configured to handle a different function.

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