The company recently added a basic application server to Solaris 9 and plans to do the same with products such as its portal server, said Scott McNealy, Sun's chief executive officer, during a keynote at the SunNetwork user conference in San Francisco.
"There are lots of things like mail, calendaring, portals, instant messaging and Web services that are going to get integrated into the basic operating system environment," McNealy said. However, he did not offer any timetable for the new products' release.
The company said it has already sold 300,000 licences for Solaris 9 with a version of the Sun One Application server since the product was released in May. Its directory server has also been integrated with the OS.
Users do not pay extra for the bundled products, according to Sun. Solaris 9 customers can use the bundled directory server, for example, to support up to 200,000 user identities at no extra cost, said John Fanelli, director of product marketing for Sun's software group.
The application server bundled with Solaris lacks features required for critical enterprise applications, but Sun said it would allow organisations to deploy the product in places they could not afford to previously, such as branch offices and retail stores.
"It's beneficial for some customers because they can just turn it on and have the functionality," said Naveen Godhla, senior engineer with Waterware Internet Services, who was attending the conference.
He added that most companies would probably only use the free software for development purposes, using paid-for, higher-end versions to put their applications into production.
The bundling efforts turn Solaris into an operating environment that is ready to run a variety of Web-based applications without requiring customers to add more software, McNealy said.
The move fits with Sun's strategy to provide businesses with the "complete stack" of software for running their back-end and mid-tier systems, a theme that ran throughout the presentations.
"What they want to be able to do is go to a company and say, 'We can outfit you from top to bottom,'" said Jean Bozman, an IDC analyst and vice-president.
As Sun integrates more software into Solaris, McNealy said, it would give customers the choice of using competing software.
"We are ensuring the customer will not get locked in and will not get trapped," McNealy said. "We will provide you an integrated stack, all assembled. But if you want to pull our Web server out and put in Apache, or pull our directory server and put in Novell, we will not void your warranty and it will still work."
Other vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, have made their application servers available for free to customers for some time. Microsoft does not offer a standalone application server, but says its forthcoming Windows .net Server 2003 operating system will have a built-in application server.