NCR has dealt a blow to Microsoft NT by signing to license Sun's Solaris Unix operating systems for its Worldmark server line.
Sun will also incorporate features of NCR?s own Unix variant, MP-Ras, into future versions of Solaris. It sees the NCR deal as a significant win in its battle to lure Intel OEMs to Solaris, in the run-up to the release of Intel's 64-bit Merced technology.
NCR, which had previously pinned its server strategy firmly on NT, claimed it will sell Solaris? 64-bit capability alongside its 32-bit NT systems, but the deal seems a step back from its former fervent commitment to NT.
The move shows NCR is convinced it can move its Unix customers to Sun?s 64-bit architecture and is not prepared to wait for NT to catch up, or for customers to be convinced that NT will handle enterprise installations.
In 1999, Intel and Hewlett-Packard are due to ship their 64-bit Merced chips to customers including NCR. At that time, customers will demand 64-bit hardware and software, according to Bill Eisenman, senior vice president at NCR. He admitted: "We knew we had to change our underlying technology to change to 64-bit. But we will continue to support both NT and Unix."
Sun chief executive Scott McNealy claimed the race to supply an OS to most of the business market has consolidated. "It?s NT versus Solaris, in the same way as it?s Coke versus Pepsi." Analysts dismissed this statement, saying other OSs still command a greater share of many markets, but admitted Sun is making progress in this particular battle against Microsoft.
Eisenman said NCR chose Sun and Solaris because they offered enterprise features, simple migration, Internet service provider customers and new technology.
McNealy said Sun will forge closer ties with Intel over Merced as a result of this announcement, and is working with the processor giant on tweaking hardware for Solaris and Java.
Sources said Sun?s strategy to persuade Intel OEMs like NCR to adopt Solaris is working, despite a slow take-up, and will hurt SCO?s hold on the Intel-based Unix market. Worldmark machines will begin migrating to Solaris during the last quarter of this year.
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