The Sun of the SEAS

Today, Sun Microsystems announced version 3.0 of its Solaris Easy Access Server (SEAS) product, Sun's solution to providing heterogeneous enterprise networking. SEAS is server software that runs on Solaris 7 and interoperates with Windows NT, Windows 2000 (Win2K), Windows 9x, Windows 3.1, and MS-DOS clients as well as the Macintosh. IBM, Novell, HP, and many other IT companies have all developed strategies to interoperate with NT, Win2K, and beyond. However, these strategies typically involve these companies building NT boxes and providing network management tools while Microsoft and third parties, such as WRQ, provide the glue. Although SEAS isn't well known in the Windows marketplace, it occupies an interesting and significant market position that bears watching. Among SEAS' unusual capabilities is the ability to serve as an NT domain controller, an NT network Web server, and an NT file-and-print server. SEAS can also provide NT authentication services, NT directory services, and data backup, and act as a connection point to a variety of network file systems, including Sun's own NFS. The new version of SEAS has an improved interface, easier system setup, and most notably built-in industry standard network management features. Because Sun is an active participant in the Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) initiative, an industry standard, the company has incorporated features into SEAS that let you remotely manage SEAS from a Web browser. Sun has also added PC NetLink for Windows and SEAS interoperability, configuration wizards, a new print manager, Sun WebServer, and Kerberos V5 security to this new version of SEAS. In a heterogeneous networking environment such as an ISP shop that typically runs both NT servers and UNIX servers (particularly Sun Web servers), SEAS has the potential to occupy a very strong niche. Sun has targeted file and print, extranet, database, messaging and groupware, e-commerce, and other server-based enterprise solutions as potential customers for this technology. Given Sun's strong performance in high-end and clustered solutions where Sun claims to have had 187 percent growth in the last year, especially in Web server solutions, SEAS is a fundamental link. SEAS runs on the SPARC and Intel platforms, and requires only a modest footprint. Sun intends to price SEAS at $595 a year for the first year, with a yearly subscription of $300 thereafter ($420 for 2 years). PC NetLink 1.1 has no client access licenses and comes free when you buy a Sun server. In a related development, Sun has also released its SunLink PC, which lets UNIX clients connect to SEAS. The SunLink PC uses NT's Microsoft Management Console (MMC) administration tools, based on NT code that Sun licensed from AT&T.

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