McNealy 'thrilled' Sun's Unix licence is safe

The Sun Microsystems chief executive says users of his company's Unix-based operating system are insulated from fallout relating to SCO's legal action against IBM

SCO's ongoing legal action against IBM and end users -- claiming that the Linux OS the former sells and many of the latter group runs infringes on its Unix intellectual property rights -- has left one company quietly out of the dog fight: Sun Microsystems.

Sun has started to embrace Linux -- so far on a much smaller scale than competitors Dell, HP and IBM -- but continues to back its Solaris version of Unix. Responding to a question from this week, Sun chief executive Scott McNealy said: "I don’t want to speculate [on the outcome of the lawsuit] but I'm thrilled to death SCO can’t revoke our Unix licence.

"We can indemnify our users and if anybody's nervous about [IBM Unix flavour] AIX or Linux we’ve got Solaris on x86 [32-bit processors] and Solaris in the data centre. We run like the wind. We're open. There are no down sides."

Earlier this week, major analysts spoke on whether users should hold off on developing their Linux strategies or keep on, with little to fear.

On his trip to the UK this week, McNealy was mainly preaching a vertically integrated approach to computing, with Java at its centre, which he claims makes life simpler for customers.

On competing with Red Hat, the best known distributor of Linux, McNealy even added: "With Red Hat you get the kernel, with Sun you get the app server, the directory, the portal, the integration server, the file system, the clustering…and 15,000 plus applications – and you get software indemnification. And we’ve got some hot x86 hardware now."

McNealy believes this approach, even when using Intel processors, will give Sun an edge, one that it will need as it tries to haul itself back up to its former position of glory.

Last week the company reported a worse-than-expected fourth quarter profit of $12m on revenue of $2.98bn while competitors such as Dell and IBM remain strong.

McNealy pointed out that Sun has posted 35 straight quarters of positive cash flow and has several billion dollars in the bank -- but, in common with many other technology and service providers, write-downs have meant record losses in line with the GAAP reporting code.

And although revenue has also fallen at the company from the dot-com boom days when Sun server sales were brisk, he contends there will still be profits to make as the market consolidates.

He said: "The question is what is happening to the total IT budget? I think it's going to shrink. We're down to three – IBM, Microsoft and Sun. The rest is collateral damage."


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