Sun Shines on Aduva Grid

Sun buys network automation startup, but licensing and support are user concerns

February 24, 2006

3 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems has snapped up network automation specialist Aduva for an undisclosed sum as part of its ongoing push to beef up its grid computing and Linux portfolio. (See Sun to Acquire Aduva.)

Aduvas flagship offering is OnStage, software for managing Linux and Solaris deployments. It also handles security patch updates and the like. But Jeff Brown, Unix and Linux administrator for Jefferson County in Colorado, which already uses OnStage, told Byte and Switch that he is eager to hear more about Sun’s plans for the product. “It will be interesting to see if they change their licensing scheme and drive up the price," he says. "And it will be interesting to see how the support goes."

This could be even more complex given that Aduva, which started life in 1999, has already racked up a slew of partners including Novell, Red Hat, and, notably, Sun’s arch-rival IBM.

Nonetheless, Sun’s decision to acquire Aduva right now is a telling one. Linux is increasingly challenging Microsoft Windows in corporate data centers and both Sun and IBM are desperate to display their open-source credentials. (See IBM Contributes to Open Source , IBM, Linux Team Up , and Sun Shares DReaM.).

The acquisition also reflects Sun’s desire to expand its grid computing strategy. By embedding Aduva’s software within the Solaris operating system, the server giant plans to sell the startup's offerings either as an automated service from Sun’s own Grid offering or as standalone products that users can run behind their firewalls.Over recent months Sun has significantly ramped up its grid efforts (See Sun Intros Grid Storage, Sun Scores Grid Customer, Grid Goes Open Source, and Sun Grid Goes Live.) This followed the launch of Sun’s grid utility service, which gives users access to compute resources at a cost of $1 per CPU per hour and a storage grid offering priced at $1 per Gbyte per month. (See Sun Grid Goes Live, Sun Unlocks Grid for $1, and Sun Grid Gets Thumbs Up.)

But Brown is not won over by the whole Sun grid concept, even with Aduva’s software rolled into it. “I think that we would still keep (OnStage) in-house. We can get quicker downloads that way.”

Sun’s grid strategy is a key element of the firm’s efforts to get back on track following a turbulent spell in the company’s history, marred by layoffs, internal reorganization, and fierce competition from IBM and HP. One of the main criticisms leveled at the hardware giant was that it struggled to promote a coherent message about its technology, something Sun is now clearly trying to address through its grid computing effort. (See Is Sun Setting? and Sun Reorgs Under New COO.)

IBM, for its part, is also fleshing out its own grid story, recently clinching deals with Higo Bank and UniCredit, and expanding its portfolio of grid products. (See IBM Launches Grid Solutions.) This, in turn, followed high profile contracts with manufacturing firm Land Rover and ZJ Transportation. (See IBM Builds Grids for Auto Industry.)

Clearly, there are opportunities opening up in the grid space. There's been plenty of speculation that grid computing, traditionally deployed in university data centers, is set to break out of its research niche. (See Keynote: Grids to Grow and Grid Startup Hits the Source.)A spokeswoman for Aduva told Byte and Switch that most of Aduva’s 40 employees, split between the startup’s offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Israel, are likely to move over to Sun.

The Aduva deal is expected to close in Sun’s fiscal fourth quarter, which begins in March.

In trading today, shares of Sun were down 1 cent (0.23 percent) to $4.29.

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL)

  • Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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