Sun Microsystems is presenting a challenge to Red Hat with competitively priced support in an update of its Solaris 10 operating system, announced Tuesday. Open-source Solaris 10 11/06 comes with support subscriptions at what Sun says is half the price of a comparable support plan from Linux distributor Red Hat. Red Hat, the largest Linux distribution provider, has faced support price pressure from others, most notably a deal announced in October 2006 by database software company Oracle. Microsoft in November aligned with Novell, a rival Linux distributor to Red Hat. "It's obvious that Sun is gunning for Red Hat," said Jonathan Eunice, founder of the technology research firm Illuminata. Solaris is a Unix-based operating system also available for free, though Sun charges for support. Linux distributors adopt a similar business model.
Sun's Solaris annual support contracts range from $240 to $1,180 for one- or two-socket x86 servers, depending on whether the buyer chooses the "basic" or "premium" plan. Sun's basic plan costs about 40 percent less and the premium plan about 50 percent less than comparable Red Hat plans, said Sun spokesman Bob Wientzen. Red Hat's Web site lists Red Hat Linux ES basic for $349 per year per system and Red Hat Linux AS premium for $2,499. A Red Hat spokesman did not return calls and an e-mail requesting comment, but after Oracle's move last fall, Red Hat chief executive officer Matthew Szulik said Red Hat would not lower its prices due to a competitor's price cuts.