Sun + Intel = A Decent Move

Sun and Intel announced a new partnership between the two companies today, with both CEOs presenting at a news conference this morning.

Sun hasn’t had a Intel CPU in its product line since Sun discontinued its Pentium 4-based V60z server several years ago when the company was teething its new x86 product line. This product line eventually developed into the exclusively AMD Opteron-based servers we have today. Intel/Xeon was out, AMD/Opteron was in. With today’s announcement, both Intel and AMD will now share Sun’s x86 product portfolio.

I’ve noticed that reaction to this news has been mixed, with some saying it’s good, and others saying “WTF, mate?”. Sun’s Opteron-based Galaxy servers are top-notch, so this has lots of people utterly surprised… like having a great night out with someone and then being dumped on the doorstep.

Well, it’s surprising news to say the least. As I thought about it more, though, it isn’t bad at all for Sun, and really isn’t all that forboding for AMD. In exchange for a Intel-based product line, Intel will seriously push Solaris for Sun. That is exquisitely good news. Sun now has a product line which can serve both AMD and Intel customer preferences.

Think of that “iPod Halo Effect”. Sun doesn’t have to turn away customers who want Intel CPUs now, and with Intel pushing Solaris, hopefully more applications and thus more Solaris installations will be in customers’ data centers. I dare say that those customer will like Solaris, and perhaps look to buy (more) Sun servers.

Besides, Sun isn’t the only company to straddle the divide between AMD and Intel. Dell, a traditionally staunch Intel ally, added Opteron servers to its product line last year, as did IBM. HP has offered systems with CPUs from both companies for at least 1.5 years, if not longer.

It’s a move that makes sense, especially for Sun, and that in itself something we should applaud… moves that make sense (duh!)