IBM to Announce Software Agreement with Sun Today

This afternoon Eastern time, a key official with IBM and Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz are scheduled to hold a joint briefing with press and analysts. Although they say the subject matter will be "a software agreement," the fact that IBM is being represented by Bill Zeitler - a senior vice president responsible for a critical company reorganization - gives us our best clue as to what the agreement is probably really about.

As first reported by IT Jungle last month, Zeitler led a reorganization in IBM's business systems units that redistributed its System p and System i series into new marketing units focused more on the customer, not the system. That restructuring was completed just a few days ago, as IT Jungle also reported.

Now, some of the company's high-end System i's will be merged into the division that was selling System p's exclusively as performance servers. That division focuses on its AIX brand of UNIX, and its i5/OS - the latest derivative of the venerable AS/400 line.

But the small-and-medium-business unit (SMB) has been charged with the duty of taking the smaller System i's and giving them new flexibility and purpose. As an IBM memo written by Zeitler last month stated, the new marketing group's mission "will be to extend System i capabilities to ensure continued relevance to SMB and build on its integrated, easy-to-use value proposition."

Notice an absence of mention of specific operating systems with regard to System i. This is perhaps where Sun will make its entry, perhaps by enabling Solaris to be offered as an option. We'll keep our eyes open.

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