Sun, Sybase Team Up on Solaris for X86
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Server and operating system maker Sun Microsystems and database maker Sybase have been partners for over 20 years, and both companies announced recently that they would be supporting and selling the Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise 12.5.1 database for the X86 implementation of the Solaris platform.
The Sybase announcement follows on the heels of a similar partnership that Sun and database rival Oracle announced in May. Neither Sybase nor Oracle have committed to providing their databases for Solaris X86 by any specific date. Both vendors have long since supported all of the releases and versions of Solaris for the Sparc platform.
To date, some 600 independent software vendors have ported about 1,000 applications to Solaris X86, according to Sun. But that is a drop in the bucket compared to the 12,000 applications that are said to be available for the Sparc version of Solaris. Nonetheless, the support of key players like Sybase and Oracle are vital in helping drive up support for Solaris X86. The growing popularity of 32-bit X86 platforms (based on processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, among a few other niche players like Transmeta and VIA Technologies) and the coming of age of 64-bit X86 platforms (from Intel and AMD) and the use of the Unix-alike Linux environment on these machines by companies who are trying to cut IT costs has forced Sun to try to move as much of the Solaris application portfolio to the X86 platform as it can, and as quickly as it can. Sun needs to keep customers who might otherwise move to Linux or Windows to stay on Solaris even if it is on an X86 platform. Better to have a Solaris customer who is not on a Sun Fire server than to have no customer at all. Sun says that more than 400,000 copies of Solaris for X86 have been downloaded from its site since January.
While Sybase doesn't get a lot of airplay these days in the three-way battle between IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft in the relational database market, Sybase has customers in key financial services, telecommunications, service provider, and government facilities who spend lots of bucks on IT. So the Sybase deal is very important to Sun, who wants to give those customers a less costly hardware option if they need one.
Sybase ASE 12.5.1 Developer's Edition for Solaris X86 is available immediately for $195, according to the Sybase online store. The ASE 12.5.1 Small Business Edition costs $1,495 per server plus $195 per seat under a networked license option, and $4,995 per CPU under a processor license option. This is considerably less costly than the cost of Sybase on Solaris for Sparc servers, and it is even less costly than Sybase ASE for Windows. A 32-bit implementation of ASE 12.5.1 for Sparc servers costs $3,995 for a server plus $795 per seat under a networked license or $34,995 per CPU under a processor license. The 64-bit implementation of ASE costs the same on Sparc iron. If you were wondering why there is so much noise about Solaris X86, it is just to drown out the grousing about the high cost of using Solaris on Sparc servers. Windows customers have to pay $24,995 per CPU or $2,995 per server plus $595 per seat. Solaris customers running Sybase are going to take a real hard look at Solaris on X86 after this announcement.