Monday, February 27, 2006

2006 - Sun's tipping point?

I've been reading around the blogosphere to see how data center customers perceive Sun's product and service line-up. I'm coming to believe there's a good chance that 2006 could be Sun's tipping point. Finally, Scott might enjoy his iPod moment!

Here are a couple of comments I've read recently:

  • "People fail to realize that when you want a 10tb database there are few vendors who can compete with Sun. I find our company which is globally aligned with Dell on the PC platform is trying to find a loophole to get Sun to replace their pc servers. Sun is closer then ever to having a platform at the right performance/price level for every level of computing," from Alec.
  • "Without doubt, the X4200 is the first X86 system on the market that I've seen that really lives up to the Sun logo on the box. Enterprise class, from end-to-end, without compromise and all with an amazing price point," from Ben Rockwood.

But there's a fly in the ointment. If you read Jon Schwartz' blog comments you'll see that the Sun sales force isn't keen to engage SMEs. Many people complain they never heard back from Sun sales people about trying a T2000 server. I get the impression that Sun sales needs to make a culture shift from Fortune 500 to "the rest of the computing world".

And finally, it appears public Sun Grid is about to go live according to InfoWorld. Jon and Scott blame US munitions controls, but I can't see how that could delay this thing for a whole year. I am convinced it will turn out to be the biggest and best thing Sun has ever delivered.

Maybe we've arrived at Sun's tipping point?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sun and Linux

Sun's relationship with Linux has been tepid at best. But now it looks like the water is getting warmer.

The Register features an article about Sun using Xen to run Linux on Sparc and has similar news about Xen efforts.

Couple this fevered software development with the OpenSparc GPL'd T1 chip and recent acquisition of a Linux/Solaris patch management firm and it really looks like Sun is warming to Linux.

It makes perfect sense. If Jon and Scott are really serious about increasing customer choice, then providing Linux compatibility on their Sparc chips is absolutely necessary. Look what it has done for IBM's Power chips!

Check out this boot log of Ubuntu Linux running on a cool new T2000 server. Very nice work Dave Miller, programmer extraordinaire!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sun isn't pushing for a Sun Grid future

Reading Scott McNeally at, he is quoted as saying of the Sun Grid "Ultimately, our preferred answer is that we become a wholesaler. We don't want to be in the subscriber management business or constomer care business. We're not structured to answer the calls. We don't have big billing engines to do microbilling. We don't have a consumer brand." WRONG!

Sun's Grid needs to be exposed as a web service, just like the Google API. Only then can Sun proclaim "The network is the computer". Microbilling is not hard. Nor are customer services if you've got a good system up and running reliably. And it's not about being a consumer brand - it's about being a truly next-generation internet brand for the developer community so cherished by Jonathan Schwartz.

If, say, 20 or so large Sun partners used the Sun Grid as a web service to deliver their own services (e.g. medicine, groceries, banking), then Sun would effectively be a wholesaler, but via a secure network API. It seems crazy to force these customers to continue to buy the hardware, when they would rather buy the computing?

And since Greg Papadopoulos says "It's a lot harder than we thought" how can Sun expect service providers to achieve commodity grid computing provision to the masses? Selling kit to service providers isn't going to make a grid, but it would improve the company's profits: short term win, but a mid/long term loss.

Here's a 3 point project plan to take Sun to "network is the computer":

  1. Deliver your public grid (with user accounts and billing)
  2. Expose it as a web service (a la Google API, Amazon API, etc)
  3. Promote it via sales channels

The result would be that Sun would become the new Lego for every kind of internet development on the planet. Now there's a market opportunity!