Sun to ship Orion beta in coming weeks

Sun Microsystems Inc. plans to announce the first beta of its Project Orion software package at the end of July or early August, with the final product scheduled to ship before year’s end, a source close to Sun said Tuesday.

Project Orion is the code name for Sun’s plan to bundle its various software products with its Solaris operating system. The package will include all of Sun’s infrastructure products such as the Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Web Server, Application Server and server management products. IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. offer competing packages.

With Project Orion, Sun will ship all of its key software products packaged in synchronized quarterly releases, relieving customers of the hassle of dealing with many applications and their update schedules and licensing schemes.

Sun has kept mum on the finer aspects of Project Orion, but is expected to detail the offering when it announces the beta and when it holds its Sun Network user conference in September in San Francisco. The anticipated details include pricing, packaging and official name.

Analysts have said that Sun is looking at aggressive per employee pricing of between US$100 and US$200 for the software bundle. A source close to Sun indicated earlier that the vendor could offer different product and license structures for different uses, for example for data center and development environments.

Sun hopes Project Orion will boost its software revenue. Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice-president of software at Sun, unveiled Orion in late February, calling it “the redefinition of an operating system.”