Monday, March 08, 2004 - Sun On The Run? - Sun On The Run? : "Indeed, though Linux was originally viewed as a threat to Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ), so far its biggest victim appears to be Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun. Sun's expensive servers are powered by a specialized Unix-based operating system called Solaris. Solaris shares some common roots with Linux, making it easy for Sun customers to switch. Instead of buying Sun's pricey machines and equally pricey maintenance, customers can choose cheapo Intel (nasdaq: INTC - news - people ) servers. And if one breaks, who cares? Toss it out and buy another. "
Even some former Sun partners are jumping ship. Sapient (nasdaq: SAPE - news - people ), an 1,800-employee consulting and technology services company, originally developed the programs it uses with customers to run on a Sun-Solaris platform, a move that placed Sun machines into many IT shops. But now Sapient has rewritten its programs so that they run on Linux, and delivers them not on Sun but on IBM's Intel-based servers.
"In the late '90s Sun was the best platform, without a doubt. But things have changed," says Ben Gaucherin, chief technology officer at Sapient, in Cambridge, Mass.
Sapient is helping its own customers migrate from Sun to Linux. Among telecom companies, which were once a Sun stronghold, "we are seeing massive transformation," Gaucherin says.
Adding insult to injury, Sapient is sweeping away its own internal Sun servers and replacing them with Intel-based machines (mostly from Dell and HP) running Linux. "About 80% of the Sun that we had is going to be replaced by Linux. We'll cut our costs by more than 50%," Gaucherin says.
Sun, amazingly, says it does not believe its customers are migrating to Linux. "People might use Linux for new projects. But people do not move off of Unix," says Larry Singer, senior vice president of global market strategy for Sun. "Linux has been growing, but not at the expense of Sun.
Sun has always been great at dreaming up catchy slogans. The first one was "The network is the computer." Next came "We put the dot in dotcom." So what is it now? Maybe they should borrow a title from Gauguin: "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" "

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