Sun Launching ‘Project Orion’

Sun Microsystems Tuesday outlined a new software strategy it says will streamline the way customers get the company’s platforms.

Dubbed “Project Orion,” the Santa Clara, Calif.-based networking giant said it will move to one distribution, and three licensing models and offer a yearly subscription for Solaris and base all of its software on the operating system starting this June.

The goal is to keep all of Sun’s systems aligned properly. The company currently releases Solaris updates every three months or so with the latest upgrades, patches and bug fixes. Project Orion makes it so that all of Sun’s software products are on this same schedule.

“[This] is a total redefinition of our software. All will be delivered on a quarterly release train. All will be part of a single product called Solaris,” Sun Executive Vice President Jonathan Schwartz said at the company’s Worldwide Analyst Conference here.

Customers will initially be offered Sun ONE (Open Network Environment) products for the new utility-based pricing model. The company said other platforms including its Web, application directory, identity, integration and storage products will be offered at a later date. Schwartz is expected to further detail Project Orion during a briefing tomorrow.

The revamp of software licensing is designed to combat similar offerings by Sun’s chief rivals Microsoft, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

“The licensing nightmare is worsening. You buy directories by the entry, messaging systems by the mailbox, application servers by the CPU, file systems by the terabyte, and that doesn’t make any sense,” Schwartz said.

In addition to Orion, Sun said it would launch its Mad Hatter project by this summer. The Microsoft-compatible, Linux-based desktop stack is currently comprised of a JavaCard security tier, the company’s Evolution platform (for connecting to MS Exchange), StarOffice, a Mozilla browser, Java 2, Gnome 2 and Linux.

The company also introduced its “throughput computing,” initiative, which takes advantage of technology that Sun acquired from Afara Websystems. The technology uses multiple threading to allow a single processor handle the work of 32. The plan is expected to be formally unveiled April 10.