Sun Microsystems' Linux server strategy lacks vision, commitment and viability, according to analyst Gartner.
The company is losing interest in Linux and concentrating on its own Solaris server operating system, said Gartner in a report, 'Linux in the Enterprise: Will it Revolutionize the Market or Remain a Niche?,' obtained exclusively by vnunet.com.
Sun argues that it does have a commitment to Unix and therefore Linux. But the company said it does not have a "supermarket strategy" of supporting all available operating systems.
Andy Butler, a research director at Gartner, said Sun has gradually lost interest in Linux since last November. He said that the company believes that Linux is designed for the Intel-based platform and that "Linux contributes to the downfall of Solaris [Sun's proprietary operating system] on Intel."
Sun languishes at the bottom of a table measuring all major server vendors' Linux server positioning. IBM comes top, scoring strongly in all three categories - vision, commitment and viability - followed by VA Linux, with Compaq and Dell in joint third place.
"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 leverage the Linux phenomenon to a greater degree because they "make Intel-based systems, so by endorsing Linux it helps them shift boxes", said Butler. Sun has original equipment manufacturer deals with companies such as NCR to sell Solaris on Intel.
Chris Sarfas, UK product marketing manager at Sun, said: "It's true that Linux is an Intel phenomenon. So from one point of view Linux is a competitor and we'd rather sell Solaris. But Linux is Unix and we are immensely in love with Unix, because anyone buying Unix isn't buying Windows NT."
He said vendors such as IBM, HP and Compaq are perceived as supporting Linux more than Sun because they support any operating system, which 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."
Sarfas added: "We are a technology company and don't make Intel hardware. Our proposition is about support. IBM is just about big enough to support all the operating systems, but did it develop Linux?"
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