Visitors to the Windows NT show could be in for a big surprise as gatecrasher Sun unveils a stripped down version of NT running native on its Solaris operating system. Andy Bush, market development group manager at Sun, said the company hopes an early beta version of "Project Cascade", announced last week, might be ready for the show in London in November. The project has been developed for both Intel and Sparc-based Solaris, using technology from AT&T called Advanced Server for Unix, with neither the consent, or assistance of arch-rival Microsoft. Sun, backed by IDC, claims that 54% of NT servers are only used for file and print. Sun believes many users want those services without the rest of NT, coupled with the robustness of a Unix server. Sun has selected key network services from NT such as naming, authentication, file and print sharing, and written them into the Solaris code. This gives much higher performance than other ways of dressing up Unix servers for an NT network, such as software emulation, Sun claims. "Although we don't believe the NT route is the right way to go, we realise that almost every customer has a mixed environment," explained Bush. Pricing for the Project Cascade product will not be available until next year. "(Project Cascade) could be a defence mechanism to prevent Sun customers changing to Microsoft," said Paul Stow, vice president of server development at Fujitsu. "But Sun will have to be very fleet of foot to keep up with Microsoft." Microsoft continually introduces changes to software and APIs to prevent imitators, Stow explained. Sun is not the first vendor to introduce Microsoft file and print services into the Unix environment. HP introduced similar features into the Advanced Server 9000 two years ago, again with AT&T. Sun also announced last week a SunPCi card for running the Windows operating system "under the covers" of Solaris. The card uses an AMD K6-2 processor. In addition, Sun revealed a range of new storage products for NT.
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