Analysis of the Sun/Intel Agreement

January 23rd, 2007 | | Categories: Intel | Tags: , , ,
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Jean Bozman is research vice president of the enterprise computing group at IDC. In this podcast, recorded at the St. Regis hotel in San Francisco, she shares her thoughts on the just-announced Sun/Intel strategic alliance.

Transcript:

Host: Paul Lancour – PodTech

Guest: Jean Bozman – IDC

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Sun Microsystems and Intel Corporation announced a major agreement on Monday, between the two companies. The alliance is centered on Intel’s endorsement of Sun Solaris Operating System and Sun’s announcement that it will be delivering Servers and Workstations, based on Intel’s Xeon processors. The announcement was made by Sun’s CEO Jonathan Schwartz and Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini, in San Francisco. Jean Bozman is Research Vice President of the Enterprise Computing Group at IDC. I caught up with her shortly after the presentation at St. Regis Hotel.

Jean Bozman – IDC

I have covered Sun since the 80’s. It’s pretty much why I wanted to see this because if you look at it in historical perspective. This is very interesting, this is something that a lot of people thought, would never happen.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Why not?

Jean Bosman – IDC

Because, if you look at the history there were a number of point products that they did work on together if you go back, in the 87 to 90 period, they had a workstation and they had Intel Inside, if you want to say,. And then there was the LX50 more recently, which was an Intel based Server in 2002 and they had sort of Blade Server BX2000 I think, it also had Intel based Blade, but when they made those other ones, is particularly with Microsoft, with AMD, it’s sort of seemed like all the issues they dropped drop in the sense, this is one that I think that people had not anticipated because again, they had these point products, but no big, squashy announcement like this.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, they have a history with Intel. This is a much different an announcement that they are making today. What’s going on now in the marketplace for both Intel and for Sun that makes it a good idea for that process?

Jean Bosman – IDC

Couple of things, there are some trends out there. One of the primary, which is virtualization and with this virtualization trend what’s happening is we take something on the x86 server platform, which IDC defines, as an x86 architecture including both, the Intel microprocessor and the AMD microprocessors under that x86 name. If you look at x86, and so many virtualization products out there, in fact that’s last form. Sun talked about its virtualization offerings. What you find is, in old days we had a one server, one OS kind of approach to everything, all across the board.

Today things are a lot more kind of put together almost in the same platform at times and in fact you were able to have Solaris on x86, although you’ve got it from an OEM, who would certify it. For example, whether it was a desktop or server that was available. What this does ,what this alliance does it allows for a deeper kind of engineering and optimization, so that any time you have the operating system in the hardware and worked under the same team, you can speed up the functionality that’s true with any OS hardware combination.

So, but in fact they are working more directly here you can expect some optimization perhaps in some specific areas where Sun really has some speed spots, for example in the networking area, in the Telco infrastructures where Sun is very, very strong. There’s a lot of customized or custom Solaris code within the Telco infrastructure we’ve been looking at that as I can see as a matter of fact. And some of the hardware that is running out it is a little bit on the older side, what this does is, it provides yet another platform for that Solaris code to go to in future.

If you look at it Solaris is a very scalable operating system. Mostly x86 servers that you see today in general I think, I don’t want to name the amount of processors, but they tend not to be very large, is the opportunity for some vendors out there, who might want to make a more scalable servers based on X86 technology so another possibility.

So, there is optimization, there is virtualization, there is new potential partnerships with OEMs and sweet spots within the market, networking, Telco, maybe database, certain areas where Sun can demonstrate an expertise in supporting those workloads. So, we talk about workloads a lot at IDC, we tend to work on it.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Looking at it from Intel’s point of view, there are market areas that they are not strong in that to — Solaris will allow them to penetrate more deeply.

Jean Bosman – IDC

Well, it’s just that you have to understand that we are in the middle of a period of IT transformation and if you work at it, there are lot of areas Telco was just one example there were others, where there has been a lot of Sun’s trends, financial services, Telco. And again, you have Solaris applications written there already. So, the idea is, here will be more places whether it would be more servers, whether it would be more virtual spaces on those servers either way. There would be more places for that combination to be run out in the environment.

The other things for interests is with virtualization such as VMware, what you are able to have is, you are able to have Solaris next to Linux, next to Windows on the same server. And again that’s a real change from that, one server, one OS, world that we had at the height of the behind of the dot com bubble, this is a different world.

And I think what you see now is it Sun and with Solaris and Java is covering all the major types of platforms they had (Inaudible), they have their own CMT chip multithreading, they still have AMD and now they are adding one more. But I think what they are doing there, is realizing whether there’s going to be a wide IT infrastructure and they want to be active in as many places on the infrastructures as possible, because it’s going to be a lot of end to end applications that are going to spin the whole enterprise and want to be able to run Solaris and Java in as many places as possible.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Am I right in saying that the big picture on this that is being driven by the hardware in the fact that…

Jean Bosman – IDC

The hardware is being virtualized.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

The hardware is getting the coverage virtualized; they have the Duo and the Quad and the multicore…

Jean Bozman – IDC

There is a lot of power out there.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

There is a lot of power, there is an opportunity to work across operating systems and so that’s what’s driving a lot of…

Jean Bozman – IDC

well and there is something else, all of this is causing or bringing about a lot of customer choice that wasn’t there it works well, and realize that even with today’s announcement, customer still has a number of choices here with this Sun Technology stack, they can go on several processors, including two or three of Sun’s. And they can then again take their software and run on a variety of processors as well. So, it’s just really increasing the number of options that are out there, for people who already have source application, for people who are thinking of writing, or people who are thinking of moving them from one place to another.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Ultimately the customers are going, is going to shake out ultimately by what the marketplace does. I mean it is not giving as many options to the customers, you can and then…

Jean Bozman – IDC

It’s what so hard for people to understand, if I work at a large enterprise today almost any large enterprise, I can go there and survey those large enterprises and finding a place that doesn’t have multiple operating systems and multiple pieces of hardware, would be the exception, rather than work.

So, there is already a great amount of variety, but before we had the Silos right, so here is this part of the shop, and there is that part of the shop, what’s changing out there again, to this virtualization and then changing the hardware, so that the workloads can move more freely around the network, it kind of place to Sun’s tray this is what we said and the network is the computer. So the more network centric something is, the better Sun could demonstrate this value proposition for. There is they are not going to take over the entire x86 market, this improves their position in it.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Thanks very much for taking the time with us.

Jean Bosman – IDC

Well thank you. I finally got a Podcast, alright.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Jean Bozman, Research Vice President of the Enterprise Computing Group at IDC. I am Paul Lancour with PodTech.net.

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