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October 27, 1999

Inktomi Deal Sees “Hidden” Solaris Used in Appliances

By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc is celebrating the choice of its Solaris operating system as the basis for Inktomi Corp’s Traffic Server Engine, an OEM version of its existing network caching software. Earlier this week, Intel Corp previewed a new turnkey web caching appliance based on the technology, due for release next year.

While primarily a result of the fact that Inktomi’s original version of Traffic Server already runs on top of Solaris, the choice also reflects the need for scalability and high availability in network appliances designed to run invisibly and without user intervention, according to Sun. Whatever the reason, the design win will provide Sun with needed volumes for the Intel version of Solaris – the Intel appliance is expected to ship in high volumes – and is part of a general push by Sun to sell Solaris for dedicated functional usage applications.

The Traffic Server Engine is a packaged version of the original Inktomi Traffic Server product, and will run on Intel-based hardware ranging from $500 desktops to multi-processor Xeon boxes. Inktomi holds a source license for Solaris, and is apparently interested in modifying the operating system to fit it more closely to future turnkey applications. It functions in the same manner as a web proxy server, offering higher levels of performance, predictability, security and filtering tasks to ISPs or small offices. OEM partners other than Intel have not yet been revealed.

Sun places the Inktomi deal in the same category as the Raw Iron database server appliance agreement it has with Oracle Corp. The Solaris kernel is at the heart of Raw Iron. Sun has also been supplying Solaris and Sparc-boards into medical applications such as CAT scanners, and to the military for in- flight analysis and radar tracking. It’s also been talking to telecommunications companies to provide basic switch fabric provision and systems management, and is working with partners on home networking and automation products.

Although Sun is willing to allow Solaris to be modified by OEMs for use in appliances, the product it offers appliance manufacturers itself is not any different from standard versions of the operating system. The difference is primarily a marketing and licensing one. The base price for Solaris is $99, but Sun says it charges less for large volume customers.

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