In response to Sun's plan to launch its open source program for Solaris, IDC analysts expect the company to gain followers, caveats not withstanding:
Sun could establish a strong community supporting its product, and thiscommunity could increase interest in Solaris and Sun's hardware products. Sun has been able to build a strong community around the Java platform (based on Sun's original Java products, which were widely adopted by many vendors) and StarOffice/OpenOffice (for which Sun open-sourced the StarOffice product it had acquired), so there are precedents that suggest OpenSolaris could be successful. However, in this case, the driver for the OpenSolaris launch is not Microsoft, a company with which Sun has exchanged IP access, based on an April 2004 agreement that resulted in a one-time $1.9 billion payment to Sun. In the past, it was opposition to Microsoft that was a motivating factor for the emergence of strong communities supporting Java and StarOffice. Now, interoperability with Microsoft, starting with Java/.NET interoperability for Web services, is a goal for Sun.
If the release of OpenSolaris creates viable companies that build entire businesses around derivative versions of Solaris that grow into healthy ecosystems of their own, "Baby Suns" could be born, and they would create additional opportunity for Sun to sell software services, hardware services, and related peripheral devices to a broader marketplace, helping Sun in the long term with its quest to return to a growth business. However, this could just as easily lead to a fragmentation of the Sun installed base, opening opportunities up for Sun's competitors. Worse, forked versions of Solaris (although not branded as Solaris) in the broad marketplace outside the Sun installed base would be unlikely to enjoy the direct support of key ISVs such as Oracle, SAP, and PeopleSoft.
Most analysts say OpenSolaris won't dereailLinux, but note that it's an attractive alternativebecause it assumes patent infringement risks on behalf of users.