Sun Microsystems's Linux strategy lacks vision, commitment and viability, according to a report from analyst GartnerGroup.
The vendor is also losing interest in Linux and concentrating more resources on its own Solaris server operating system (OS), said Gartner in its report Linux in the enterprise: Will it revolutionise the market or remain a niche?
Sun representatives refuted Gartner's findings, arguing that the vendor has a commitment to Unix and therefore Linux. Sun said it does not have a "supermarket strategy" of supporting all available operating systems.
Andy Butler, research director at Gartner, said Sun had gradually lost interest in Linux since last November, that the company believes Linux is designed for the Intel-based platform and that "Linux contributes to the downfall of Solaris (Sun's proprietary OS) on Intel".
"Every time Linux is successful, that typically means Sun's hardware strategy has lost a deal," said Butler. "Sun's business is all about Sparc-based hardware selling Solaris boxes. The market for Linux on anything other than Intel is very marginal."
Other vendors, such as IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard (HP), can balance the Linux phenomenon to a greater degree because they "make Intel-based systems, so by endorsing Linux, it helps them to shift boxes", he said.
Sun has OEM partnerships with companies such as NCR to sell Solaris on Intel.
Chris Sarfas, Sun UK's product marketing manager, said: "It is true that Linux is an Intel phenomenon, so from one point of view Linux is a competitor and we would rather sell Solaris. But Linux is Unix and we are in love with Unix, because anyone buying Unix isn't buying Windows NT."
Sarfas said vendors such as IBM, HP and Compaq are seen as supporting Linux more than Sun because they support any OS that sells their hardware.
"They have a supermarket strategy and will sell five different flavours of beans off the shelf. The supermarkets have added Linux to their portfolio," he said.
"We are a technology company and don't make Intel hardware. Our proposition is about support. IBM itself is just about big enough to support all of the operating systems."
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