IBM to Implement Sun Solaris on x86-based System x

IBM and Sun Microsystems did indeed announce an agreement for deploying the Solaris operating system on IBM servers, but it wasn't the system we guessed: IBM will deploy Solaris for its Intel x86-based System x and BladeCenter servers.

It's a significant move, as it validates the presence of Sun's operating system among a broad customer base that few can mistake as a "niche." As Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz told reporters today, IBM becomes the first Tier 1 reseller of Solaris products and services for x86 platforms.

As it stands now, IBM senior vice president Bill Zeitler explained during his joint appearance with Schwartz, customers who download Solaris for their System x servers on their own, will still be entitled to the same Sun service they've always been. But within the next 90 days, support options will become available from IBM that will open IBM's existing customers to expanded avenues of support and service, from both Sun and IBM.

System x is currently available with Linux and IBM's own AIX flavor of UNIX, as well as Windows (though Zeitler cleverly avoided directly mentioning Windows today, referring to it as among "other operating system choices"). He was repeatedly asked what customers he intended for Solaris flavors of System x to target, and whether other segments of IBM's existing businesses would be impacted as a result.

"I don't see a single operating system as being the choice," Zeitler responded at one point. "I think customers make choices, markets make choices, and mature vendors react by responding to those customer requirements. And that's what we're trying to do here. We're still going to continue the investments we make in AIX; we think it's an excellent, highly scalable, highly reliable offering. But just pragmatically, there's a lot of customers who love Solaris and are loyal to it, and so I don't see this as compromising our commitment to AIX or compromising our commitment to Linux or the other operating systems we have. I think it's a reinforcement of our commitment to open interoperability and to the market."

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