A Look at the Sun/Intel Agreement

January 22nd, 2007 |
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Sun Microsystems and Intel announced an alliance in which Intel endorses Sun’s Solaris operating system and Sun will produce servers and workstations based on Intel’s Xeon processor. Paul Lancour spoke with Sun’s John Fowler and Intel’s Pat Gelsinger about this landmark agreement.

Related Stories: IntelMooresLaw

Transcript:

Host: Paul Lancour – PodTech

Guest: John Fowler – Sun Microsystems

Guest: Pat Gelsinger – Intel

Paul Lancour – PodTech

I’m Paul Lancour with PodTech.net. Sun Microsystems and Intel Corporation today announced a major agreement between the two companies. The alliance is centered on Intel’s endorsement of Sun’s 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. Shortly after the announcement I met with Pat Gelsinger, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, and John Fowler, Executive Vice President of the Network Systems Group at Sun, to discuss the announcement. Sun has featured some Intel processors in their servers in the past. I first asked John Fowler how this announcement is different.

John Fowler – Sun Microsystems

The historians will know that we actually used Intel processors actually going back into the 80’s and so from time to time we had products that include Intel processors, but what we did a few years ago was fundamentally change our strategy. The strategy changed in that we took Solaris and we open sourced it as well as making it widely available on x86.

The second change of strategy was we decided to get very serious about building a comprehensive product line out of x86 processors, which at the time we chose AMD and so, we’ve been doing very well. We’re sort of three years in this journey. We’ve been growing it more than 50% per quarter with that product line and so we reached a point where Intel had also recently done a vast improvement in their technology. So, we saw an opportunity to work together on some things.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

And the result of your efforts is Solaris has seen significant growth of late and Solaris is running on — was it 70% non-Sun?

John Fowler – Sun Microsystems

That’s right. Yeah, so there has been approximately seven million licenses distributed and of those 70% are on x64 platforms; the majority of which are HP, IBM, Dell that is, I mean, our numerical volume today is relatively low in that marketplace. So, those are mostly running on non-Sun which is a pretty interesting statistic. We, actually — when we do licenses, we ask people what are they going to use them on, and that’s how we track it.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, essentially what you’re saying is that this is a — the marketplace dictated this to a great degree?

John Fowler – Sun Microsystems

Yeah, so what has happened is, Intel has improved their technology and then interest in Solaris continues to go up and so building out a product line that includes the Intel products, and then — most importantly, I think here is, Intel is collaborating with a great engineering expertise and actually improving Solaris and making it better. So, it’s not just that they are just endorsing it. They are actually going to work on making it better with us. So, before we had to do that independently; now we can do that with Intel and that ought to really move Solaris ahead even faster on Intel.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

The collaboration with your teams of designers?

John Fowler – Sun Microsystems

Absolutely, so the engineers will be able to work on lower level features, on performance, on I/O, on reliability, to be able to work on these features in advance of Intel’s Silicon actually being available, so they’re ready to go when Intel Silicon comes out. These features will work on both systems that come from Sun as well as systems from other manufacturers such as Dell, HP and IBM, which is something that’s very important to us and obviously important to Intel as well.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

You say it is also driven not just by the marketplace, by the dictates of the customers, but also by the advances that Intel is making. Can you give us a little more information about that? What’s happening in the marketplace in terms of the hardware that’s making this happen?

John Fowler – Sun Microsystems

Well, one of the things that Intel has done is they’ve recently introduced revisions to their products, the Intel Core 2 Duo products, as you see under code names like Woodcrest and Cloverton, are very, very compelling microprocessor products to build servers out of. So, at the same time we were improving Solaris, Intel was also improving their technology offerings to build servers out of them. So, the timing is right to actually kind of put some of these efforts together, both in terms of a hardware product line that we bring forth as well as what Intel can do to accelerate our activities around Solaris.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

John, thanks very much for taking the time and now I’ll turn to Pat Gelsinger, with Intel. Pat, how’re you doing?

Pat Gelsinger – Intel

Very well, thank you.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Very exciting day for you today with this announcement and I just want to piggyback on some of the things we were talking to John about, what is going on with Intel? Perhaps you can talk about, more specifically, the — are we seeing a shift in what’s going on in the marketplace that’s different from just a wrapping up or things are going to change drastically in the near future for your business?

Pat Gelsinger – Intel

Well, in data centers new technologies like virtualization, are becoming more important and the result of that is that this ability to take advantage of new capabilities like we’re doing in hardware and combining that with software and system features, like what Sun has a great strength in, is a great technological partnership and marriage. Our objective in this is to uniquely deliver those into the industry. That’s why today’s announcement is very exciting to us. It is a company who has those competencies, working with our engineers and delivering breakthrough capabilities into the industry, as we think no one else really can.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

One of the things that was being talked about today in the presentation is Moore’s Law being not just clock speed but also being able to diversify the way you use the chips. I wonder if you could give us a little more information about that.

Pat Gelsinger – Intel

Certainly, what we’re seeing is, is that very quickly we’re moving up to higher core count systems, higher thread capabilities as well as new technologies like virtualization, I/O technology, demand-based switching. The result of that is, is that the demands on the system to take advantage of that and to fully deliver those capabilities, really required this intimate co-operation of hardware and software.

That’s really what the great opportunity with Intel and Sun coming together today is, is to take advantage of technologies where Sun has shown tremendous capabilities in their Solaris offerings and to combine those with what we’re doing in Silicon and deliver the full capabilities of Moore’s Law into the industry.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

What was this specifically about Sun that was appealing to Intel when making this agreement?

Pat Gelsinger – Intel

Sun has, with the Solaris Operating System, the Java capabilities, what they’ve been doing in their Intel Architecture based systems over the last couple of years has shown a great ability to deliver and grow in this segment of the marketplace, and particularly at the higher end of the marketplace where our traditional share hasn’t been as strong. So, now this is an opportunity for us to extend the reach of Moore’s Law as we never have been able to before.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Let’s talk about the specifics of the deal, so Intel has endorsed Solaris, Sun is going to be building out servers that will be out later this year?

Pat Gelsinger – Intel

Yes, the Sun has announced that they will be offering a full range of Xeon based platforms in the marketplace. The first of those will be out in the latter part of the first half of this year. So, very soon engineers are working like crazy to get those done and a full line from UP’s through MP’s enterprise, Telco workstations, so, a very broad set of product offerings.

In addition to that Intel has announced that we will be putting dedicated engineering and working with Sun at their development efforts in Solaris as well as on Java. We also have a comprehensive marketing strategies as well that go behind the relationship and then maybe the most important element is the deep technical collaborations that go behind those, which mean that it’s a multi-generational, multi-year, multi-generations of technologies and products into the future.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Great! Well, thanks for taking out the time today to talk with us Pat and congratulations.

Pat Gelsinger – Intel

Thank you very much. A great pleasure.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

That’s Pat Gelsinger, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group and John Fowler, Sun’s Executive Vice President of the Network Systems Group. I’m Paul Lancour for PodTech.net.

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