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Sun Microsystems Software The Almighty Buck News

Sun Banks On Open Source For Its Survival 211

Posted by Soulskill
from the cutting-costs dept.
CWmike writes "In moving to cut its current workforce by between 15% and 18% today, Sun is trying to stay ahead of a falling knife. And today's announcement made it clear that Sun officials are banking on the company's open-source strategy to help it pull through. A cut of up to 6,000 employees at Sun will hurt, but CEO Jonathan Schwartz contends users will be more inclined to try open-source products such as MySQL, OpenSolaris and Sun's GlassFish application server during a time of economic stress." Reader Barence also pointed out that Sun will begin to auction "branding space" in OpenOffice.
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Sun Banks On Open Source For Its Survival

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  • No f**ing way. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:21AM (#25769629)
    If they want to stay afloat, they want the support of businesses. And from the position of a business owner, there is no way -- I mean NO WAY -- that I will accept advertising on my business documents. If somebody tried this STUPID move I would not only stop using their free product, I would refuse to use their commercial version. The idea is ASININE.

    Schwartz needs to stop believing in the Mel Brooks idea of "the Schwartz be with you". This is not a Mel Brooks movie.

    Sun needs market share. And they will never get it if this is the way they want to roll.
    • Re:No f**ing way. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Firehed (942385) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:46AM (#25769709) Homepage

      On or alongside? Obviously nobody would go for any free service that inserts ads INTO their business documents, but I think most people aren't especially bothered by the idea of having automated advertisements sitting next to what they're doing. It's never once bothered me in Gmail, and I honestly don't even know if they're present in GDocs. Neither is Sun's product of course, but Google seems to be doing quite well by, at it's core, providing free products to people.

      Something tells me that I'd find it significantly more distracting in OpenOffice, but that's probably more due to its interface being more than cluttered enough already. I'm sure part of it is that we're used to seeing ads in a browser window but nowhere else; I think the bigger issue is that giant stupid flashing banners that some people try using to monetize their freeware is hugely distracting to the point where it makes the product harder to use. OO is a respectable piece of competition for MSOffice for 99% of users, but after having been spoiled by the interface in Apple's $80 iWork08 suite, OO is never something I'd pay for given its paid competition. If they could revamp it with a clean interface and wanted to put a narrow strip of text ads at the top for unpaid users, I suppose that's an option.

      It's a bad position to be in - right now, OpenOffice is just burning money, it's not easily monetized through advertising (probably ineffective, lower acceptance, too small of an audience), and it probably wouldn't stand a chance of competing as paid software. Even if it was $10 at Best Buy and still free for download (identical versions, you're paying for the CD and distribution basically), people are so tuned into "Microsoft(R) Office[TM]" as their office suite that it would just get ignored in stores.

      MySQL at least seems to have a business model behind it, and one that's at least not losing money even if it's not immensely profitable (I have no idea what the numbers look like, but it can't be bringing in a ton or else they wouldn't be having these issues).

      • I have been amazed that they are not in MicroCenter or fry's with OO, mysql, or even solaris. Put these on DVDs, buy the shelf space in the Windows area as well as Linux area. Think about what they spend today on ads. This is MUCH cheaper.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jurily (900488)

        I think most people aren't especially bothered by the idea of having automated advertisements sitting next to what they're doing.

        Except when you have a mobile dial-up, and you get 3 Gb a month. Then, anything that tries to download anything I didn't tell it to gets deleted, fast. Like MSN Messenger.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by westlake (615356)
        Google seems to be doing quite well by, at it's core, providing free products to people.

        .

        Strip away the add revenues from Google search and how much is left? When consumer sales hit bottom what happens to Google?

      • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @12:52PM (#25770973) Homepage Journal
        I don't know what portion of the OpenOffice developers work for Sun, but I'll bet it's a lot. And that's got to change. This is a worthwhile project -- without it, the Linux desktop basically ceases to exist (sorry KOffice fans, it's a great project, but it isn't even close to OpenOffice in terms of being usable as a true MS Office replacement).

        Red Hat? Novell? CANONICAL?? You've got to saturate this project with developers. Without it, desktop Linux is dead in the water. And yes, desktop Linux is real, today, despite what detractors say. Take that away and Linux slowly sinks in other areas too.

        And I agree with whoever suggested that they need to get the product out in front of more Joe Sixpak types. Press a bunch of CD's and hand them out like candy. It worked for AOL back in the day. We've got to get to a point where everyone's got "one of those OpenOffice CD's" lying around, so when they need to get a document together in the middle of the night and they don't have the time, inclination, or source media to get an MS Office install together, the little light bulb comes on over their head, they toss in the OpenOffice CD, and we have one more user.

        And of course the preload market needs to be saturated with OpenOffice. Every new PC needs to have a copy of OpenOffice preloaded. As the price of computers continues to come down, this could be the key to keeping that price point down. I'm sure Microsoft is really going to turn the screws on this one, but if a few PC manufacturers are bold enough to do it, this could be the pivotal moment for that.

        For 90% of the users out there, OpenOffice is MS Office's equal. It's time to really push push push to get it out in front of them.
        • by jmorris42 (1458) *

          > ..but if a few PC manufacturers are bold enough to do it, this could be the pivotal moment for that.

          Sorry, that isn't being bold. Taking a cattle prod to Microsoft isn't bravery, more like suicide. And preloading OO.o is exactly that, you would be directly threatening their biggest cash cow. Do it and you will find yourself buying your OWM copies of Windows from Ingram Micro at rack rate, which is intended to be a price to kill any OEM doing more than a couple hundred units a month. If you can't ne

        • This is a worthwhile project -- without it, the Linux desktop basically ceases to exist (sorry KOffice fans, it's a great project, but it isn't even close to OpenOffice in terms of being usable as a true MS Office replacement).

          I'm not sure throwing more man hours at OpenOffice is really the solution. In my opinion, Microsoft Office is at its core poorly designed, and poorly executed. OOo strives to be an MS Office replacement, but even if it manages to do everything MS Office does better and faster, it will still be mediocre.

          This is a little off topic, but what I think we really need is an open standard for office program integration so that one group can make a spreadsheet, another can make a wordprocessor, and you can be guar

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Yeah, but since OO is open source, why would anybody download the version with adds? I mean they're going to have to make some huge improvements on the "ad-supported" version to make it better than the open source version, and there's nothing to stop the open source version from catching up in a couple months anyway.

        I don't get it.

    • Re:No f**ing way. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NoobixCube (1133473) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:50AM (#25769725) Journal

      Certainly not a smart move with Novell doing their repackage with Go-oo, and IBM basing Lotus off an earlier version. I can just see the users flocking in droves to either of those two suites now. This is Novell's chance to basically steal OpenOffice.org right out of Sun's hands. I'm not sure if Novell would handle it well, but they can hardly do worse than Sun, from what I've heard about their management of OO.o.

      • Re:No f**ing way. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pallmall1 (882819) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @11:14AM (#25770557)

        ...but they can hardly do worse than Sun, from what I've heard about their management of OO.o.

        Sun's management of both OpenOffice [oooforum.org] and Java [java.net] is lousy. They don't listen to their users -- the Java bug-tracking and voting system is bogus, and OpenOffice is "primitive".

        Read the threads linked to above to get an idea of Sun's utter cluelessness.

        • Re:No f**ing way. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @01:47PM (#25771303) Homepage Journal
          It's pretty much the same inside the company. Sun used to be a company of engineers who made cool things. I don't get the feeling there was a market focus to that work, they just made cool things and the market just happened to want those cool things.

          Somewhere along the line the engineers making cool things were replaced by "Process Black-Belts" who spend all their time talking about "six sigma" and making engineers fill out reams of paperwork to make the smallest change to an existing product, never-mind innovating on something new and cool that the market might want.

          Well now Google is the one in the industry making cool things and Sun is competing against IBM with its products. IBM doesn't waste time with Six-Sigma process people. They focus on the customer and build what the customer wants. When you're competing against IBM the problem is that your customers realize that IBM is most likely still going to be here in 20 years and your company most likely is not.

          Sun could reverse this process by starting to make cool things again and trusting that if they build it the market will come. I don't really see that happening, though. They'll probably fire all their engineers and keep all their process people, which is exactly the reverse of what they should be doing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Blackknight (25168)

            ZFS, dtrace, zones, Solaris Cluster, xen, java, and MySQL aren't "cool things?"

            Sun is one of the biggest open source companies around even if their OS isn't the most popular. I know if it wasn't for SXCE and OpenSolaris I wouldn't be using Sun products at all, it's great to have the free versions to learn on and you can just add a support contract later if you want it.

    • Re:No f**ing way. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @07:25AM (#25769839)
      I don't _think_ they mean that; it wouldn't really work anyway as someone would fork the project. I _think_ they meant assisting companies that was to brand the office product, so if say Dell wanted to pre-load an office suite, they could install a Dell branded Star-Office or OOo.

      I could be wrong of course! But what you are suggesting is sooooo off-the-scale-dumb that really can't see that being what they meant!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > I _think_ they meant assisting companies that was to brand the office product, so if say
        > Dell wanted to pre-load an office suite, they could install a Dell branded Star-Office or OOo.

        They would certainly do that, but as I just noted in a post above, there will be no OEM preloading of OO.o because Microsoft would destroy anyone who attacked it in such a direct way. Simply forcing them to buy Windows at the retail OEM rates would be more than enough to do it and 100% legal. So that's off the table.

    • Re:No f**ing way. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @08:08AM (#25769955)

      there is no way -- I mean NO WAY -- that I will accept advertising on my business documents.

      That is not even close to what Schwartz is planning. In his blog he compares how Sun gets paid for the optional bundling of the Google Search Bar with the Java installer. He then goes on to say that he plans on selling that kind of 'space' to other companies. He makes the point that Sun distributed 60 million java runtimes last MONTH - that is a lot of eyeballs to advertise to and that's what he as apparently monetized even further with microsoft in addition to or instead of google.

      As for similar bundling with OpenOffice, he's talking about including links (not just URLs) to services, similar to the Google searchbar - e.g. fax services, place kinkos for bulk printing, sign printing, cloud-based document storage, and database hosting, etc. It is the same thing we are used to with free software, the software is one a time cost so make it free once its paid for, but the individual, optional but useful services around the software have ongoing costs so use them as a source of income.

      You won't have to use any of the "cobranded" services, but if you want to, Sun will make it really, really easy for you to do so, and in return they get a cut of whatever you spend in the services.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      I totally agree.

      Koffice wont have that advertisement noise.

    • Advertisements. On your documents. Your important documents..

      Do you think *anyone* would be open to this? Sun's board above all?

      "Let's really screw ourselves and any chance we have to have OOo float.. How about selling ad space on people's documents! It works like the specialized coupon printers at the Grocers'!"

      "If Writer detects a keyword, 'overdue', for example, it sticks an ad for Accenture in the footer!"

      "Genius!"

      "Brilliant!"

      "Capital Idea!"

      Take a breath.. Imagine a branded OpenOffice, as in the c

  • daft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superskippy (772852) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:24AM (#25769637)
    Much as I like open source, giving stuff away is really not what a business that need some cash needs right now.
    • by aliquis (678370)

      I don't think they see it as much as giving stuff away as potentially getting developers for free.

      They need further development, they can't afford it right now, open source code offers a solution.

      They earn their money on supported versions, hardware and also support of running the systems I assume.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      No one said it has to be $free$.

    • by itomato (91092)

      Giving stuff away happens when things are "Free" as in beer.

      Making things available happens when things are "Free" as in Freedom.

      Java has been free like beer for ages. Coincidentally, SUNW/JAVA stock values were higher than they are today.

      Free stuff attracts people. Microsoft wins developer mindshare with free or ridiculously low-cost software development tools. College students learn what they can afford to learn.

      Free stuff up front with paid support to be delivered in the future is the way things seem

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:35AM (#25769667)
    Suns long term (5-10 year) prospects just don't look good. Their core of products are all up against strong competition. The Sparc architecture is not significantly better than x86-64 to justify the additional cost and "non-standard" architecture to buyers, Solaris has some nice features but is up against both Linux & itself on x86-64 & IA32, where Linux continues to eat into the market share of traditional UNIX systems, and their x86-64 servers are commodity boxes which you can (& do) buy from someone else. Oh and of course Java and OpenOffice are established products that they have no way to capitalise on, essentially making them money-sinks on the balance sheet.

    Sun has to find a way to create a sustainable revenue stream, and it doesn't have much to work with.
    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:40AM (#25769685) Homepage Journal

      They're a systems integration company. They don't need to sell "invented here" to be profitable.

      Sun will sell you whatever you want. Invented by Sun, or not.

      They sell solutions, not widgets.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That looks great on paper, but doesn't provide a significant revenue stream in practice. The last time I saw anyone buy a "solution" from Sun was, well, never.
        • Sun mostly sells hardware, and adds anything whatsoever the customer needs to build a solution. This includes software, obviously, but also cisco gear, racks, UPSs and the like.

          --dave (biased, you understand) c-b

        • by jcnnghm (538570) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @11:42AM (#25770671)

          Their FY2008 services revenue was $5.26B, storage revenue was $2.35B, and their computer systems revenue was $6.26B.

          While the services revenue is up 3% from FY 2007, storage revenue is only up 1.6%, and computer systems revenue is down about 3%.

          Given that 38% of their revenue is derived from services, and that services is their fastest growing growth sector, what makes you believe that services doesn't provide a revenue stream in practice?

      • by superskippy (772852) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:52AM (#25769727)
        No, that's IBM.

        I remember Sun adverts during the dot-com boom days that mocked IBM for having a huge range of stuff, where as Sun sold only one simple stack of stuff- theirs.

        • I remember Sun adverts during the dot-com boom days that mocked IBM for having a huge range of stuff, where as Sun sold only one simple stack of stuff- theirs.

          That was during the dot-com. After the dotBOOM, the only companies that survived are those who sell solutions.

        • by drspliff (652992)

          But will that be changing any time soon? We can all see financial problems on the horizon for Sun, yet they have the tech, people, products and customers to become much more like IBM.

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Lets hope they don't take good things like open office and java down with them. ( like it sounds they are doing.. )

        Advertisements? How stupid can you get.

    • The Sparc architecture is not significantly better than x86-64 to justify the additional cost and "non-standard" architecture to buyers,

      they pretty much stopped doing sparc stuff years ago. their new gig is the T series (t1000 and t2000 series). these are high-cpu (thread) count chips and when you do the equiv of 'show cpu' (so to speak) you get 32, 64 even 256 lines of output on status per 'cpu' (thread) that you can turn on or off (on a running system) or put into pending-standby. you CANNOT do anythin

      • by TheSunborn (68004)

        You do know that the T Series, were actuelly X86_64 cpu until Sun bought it, and changed the instruction set to sparc right?

        Personally I think that change, was the biggest mistake that sun have done in recent years.

    • No matter what you might believe or have read, Linux is not Enterprise quality software.

      We are barely there.

      Speaking as an Enterprise Linux architect, the tools and stability of Linux distrubutions are not up to snuff. Sun handily beats Linuxes in this area.

      ZFS, Jumpstart, FLARs, package management, patching... The list goes on.

      Anyone who suggests FUSE as an option needs to get a clue. Selling NAS isn't always an option, or even viable. Kickstart/AutoYaST are OK for what they are, but the systems manage

  • by Phantom Gremlin (161961) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:39AM (#25769683)

    I'm not a software guy, so maybe I'm missing something. But paying $1 billion for MySQL (less than 1 year ago!) didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Wasn't a lot of the code GPL?

    As of yesterday the stock market values the equity at $3 billion. And actually values the company at only $1.6 billion (they have $2.6 billion in cash but also have $1.3 billion in debt).

    Maybe a company that throws money around so freely deserves to go out of business. Even in 2008, a billion US dollars is still a *lot* of money.

    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:47AM (#25769717) Homepage Journal

      MySQL's business model was to sell commercial licenses to people who were too legal risk adverse to use it without one.

      Sun, thankfully, has a completely different business model.

      They sell solutions. If they don't have to pay for licenses for MySQL they can offer solutions that include MySQL for cheaper than if they have to. Does that add up to a billion dollars? No idea.

      • by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @07:25AM (#25769833) Homepage Journal
        Actually the thing they sold(and still do sell) is a more "up to date" MySQL(including security fixes). The community version of mysql is always a little bit behind the Enterprise version in terms of bug fixes etc. They also sell support and probably engineering as well(don't know, haven't used that). We bought the MySQL enterprise edition where I work because we are being forced to be paranoid about security, and that includes always having the latest and greatest db software(whether or not MySQL is more or less secure than Postgres is another matter altogether)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          They also sell "MySQL boxes" - that their engineering group has tuned specifically to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the hardware and give it to the database. Schwartz talks about doubling the performance of MySQL on certain equivalent hardware platforms. Presumably anybody could do that, or they could pay for the MySQL engineering team to do it and get it right. Schwartz is banking on it being more cost effective for customers to rely on the MySQL engineering team to do the optimizations than

        • by jimicus (737525)

          whether or not MySQL is more or less secure than Postgres is another matter altogether

          Now that statement puzzles me.

          If your systems are designed for maximum security, the database is on a separate server to the application, both servers are firewalled to only allow known-good connections through, the connection between application and database may if necessary be encrypted, the user the application connects to the database as will only have the permissions it needs (and indeed won't even be able to establis

          • You could have tripwire verify state on both systems and watch if there are any intrusions.

            If there is, you sever the link between app and db. That's why I like using a brouter. Hackers see no firewall nor can they access it.

        • by radarsat1 (786772)

          Actually the thing they sold(and still do sell) is a more "up to date" MySQL(including security fixes).

          Wouldn't that be a breach of the GPL? If they are distributing a product based on GPL code but not distributing the source with it...

          As far as I remember, the GPL can't be "time shifted" like that.

          Well, I guess like everything else in business, things are interpreted in units of "time-to-sue".

          • by J.Y.Kelly (828209)

            They own all the copyright to the MySql code and as such they can do what they like with it.

            The fact that they distribute some of their code under the GPL puts conditions on what *you* can do with it. But they aren't bound by those conditions.

    • ... like everyone seems to be doing these days.

      Maybe a company that throws money around so freely deserves to go out of business.

      No, they need help from the government, so they can throw YOUR money away! (Sorry, I tend to get cranky after reading "The Economist" these days.)

      Maybe this Open Source Strategy will work for Detroit:

      "(ring) Hello, President Obama here. Oh, Hi GM. What? You want how many BILLIONS? Get yourself Open Source! Good-Bye! (slam)"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by martenmickos (467191)

      Thx for the comments on MySQL as part of Sun. The MySQL business is growing faster now than before (measured in revenues) and we are the fastest growing major DBMS business in the world. So, although someone could claim I am biased, I think it is fair to say that the acquisition made sense from a pure revenue growth perspective.

      Additionally, Sun is selling hardware to MySQL users and customers - servers that provide a performance boost over what people use today.

      Thirdly there are synergies between MySQL and

  • branding? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @06:45AM (#25769705)
    Does Star Office having plans on "branding"? I wouldn't mind paying to turn this off, but if Sun forces me to look at McDonalds & Starbucks logos all day - forget it.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @07:16AM (#25769803)

    From my perspective (I've used and bought Suns for decades), Sun is heading full tilt down a path towards the cliff edge. What they're doing is 100% wrong.

    Their interest in open source is fine, but it's not a good strategy for business profits unless they want to become another RedHat providing Linux services and support --- a role in which they would be coming up from behind very slowly. It's a role for which they're not cut out, because their reputation in the open source world is marginal at best because they've always been half-hearted about it.

    Sun needs to stop thinking of open source as a business strategy, because for them it's merely what's referred to as a hygiene factor in social sciences --- it's not a benefit when it's exercised, but it's a severe demerit when it's not exercised. In other words, yes, be fully open with software, but not because it's a source of profits, but because you'll be shunned without it.

    For profits, capitalize on what you have: awesome hardware and competent Professional Services. Invest more in your CPU division with its great Niagara processors, so that when Intel is offering 16-core CPUs and talking about 64, you can be offering 256-core and talking about 4096. Take on nVidia and AMD on the SIMD front, so that while they're toying with noddy graphics cards for GPGPU, you can offer 64k SIMD stream processors far more tightly coupled to your host cores.

    We've recently entered the Age of Multicore, and you (Sun) have a good reputation in that area, and you know how to build good hardware (nobody has ever marked you down for that). Why not capitalize on your existing skills, resources and reputation in this area, instead of chasing rainbows?

    • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday November 15, 2008 @07:49AM (#25769917) Homepage Journal

      What a piece of crap these things are. There are two big problems:

      1. Build quality. They have a small power switch and LED board mounted near the left front that is activated by a pen. Invariably, people press it too hard and destroy the switch, which results in a nonbooting server. But the boards are service parts (they probably are worth 10 or 15 bucks tops) and cannot be purchased in bulk. I mean, i'd be ok with this if we could buy 20 or 50 of them and keep them on hand. They're not so hard to replace. But WTF. I mean, people with little physical strength can render the server inoperable.

      The front panels fall off regularly, the optical drive bezels might as well be scotch taped on. Video hardware is chancy and may not work in some cases. I have over 50 of these things so I know whereof I speak, bought in several waves. I mean, if this was Dell i'd understand, their stuff is cheap. But this server is not cheap!

      Anyway Sun warranty service is also pretty slow to respond to us, though they do eventually fix the problems, at the cost of devices being out of action for significant stretches of time.

      2. Poor integration and poor choices for third party parts. For instance, PXE booting on all four included NICs must execute during bootup. No disabling this is possible. Dell used to do this shit too, but at least Dell was cheap. The x4100 is expensive for an x86 server of its meager specifications.

      In addition, the RAID controller is an utter piece of garbage. Most RAID controllers - think Dell PERCs, or HP/Compaq Smart controllers, will treat the disk array as a set of disks that can be transported between servers as a unit, and will be read by the controller as the same unit regardless of the system it is put in. Not so the Sun DPT controller. It apparently stores the RAID config in flash on the card or something, so when you move the disks between systems it basically refuses to recognize the array as a unit. You pretty much have to perform a recovery on the first disk of a RAID 1 set and then reintegrate the second drive, which is a scary prospect when you have data you care about and time is of the essence.

      Why DPT of all vendors, anyway? And why did DPT screw the pooch so bad with this one? They have perfectly workable RAID controllers that do not have this flaw. Oh and the controller is dog slow too.

      Anyway, they got the contract for a particular large government agency's servers for a particularly large program, so that's why I have the things and they keep getting airdropped on me. I'd like to shitcan them all but I have to make the ones that aren't broken at any given time work until they finally get EOL'd. Hopefully soon.

      But yeah, i'll never even look at Sun gear again.

      • by Kent Recal (714863) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @10:02AM (#25770271)

        Why is it that stupid people always put the blame on the vendor. There must be a pattern in there...
        We have over 50 xfires (4100s, 4200s, 4600s) in production, so I feel an obligation to comment on this drivel.

        1. If you really have mouthbreathers on your team that manage to break a server with the pen switch (of all things!) then you have much bigger problems to worry about. I see no difference between the pen-switch design that Sun uses and the stuff that you find on Supermicro or Dell Chassis everywhere. So better keep your "people" far away from those, too...
        2. I don't buy your "front panels falling off" story either. I have no idea what the hell you guys are doing to your servers (curling them through the datacenter?) but anyone who has worked with xfire hardware can attest that design and build are generally stellar, no less. Just by looking at the picture [sun.com] I can only wonder what part of the panel is coming off on your xfires, and how?
        3. I cannot comment on the video hardware problems that you were having, other than that we never had a problem with that. Our xfires are generally dead-on-arrival (yes, that happens with sun, too) or work flawlessly. So far we had only two 4200s make it through the burn-in but fail later on (flakey PSU, flimsy backplane respectively) which is a pretty good ratio when compared to our expiriences with supermicro hardware.
        4. Yes, PXE booting can be disabled for each individual NIC. Read the manual sometime?
        5. You're saying you have "over 50" xfires, yet you keep buying a raid controller that sucks? Honestly, if I were your boss...

        Sorry, either you're just making up shit here or you're the wrong guy for the job.

      • by mejesster (813444)
        I have no idea why you're even using the switch. They have a service processor that allows for remote power control, among other things.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)

      The problem with Sun is that they're WAY behind the curve compared to even IBM in supporting Open Source (remember, IBM spent a huge amount of money porting Linux to run on their "big iron" platforms back in better economic times).

      Because IBM has a great reputation as a computer services company nowadays, they can easily offer powerful enterprise-wide computing platforms at reasonable prices--and IBM has much more name recognition than Sun.

      • It's absolutely clear IBM is contributing tons to Open Source. It's easy to note 'ibm.com' addresses in changelogs for tons of projects.

        Generic Linux contributions and the success of Linux is key to them. You sell Linux to x86 users, you suddenly have a nice bridge to Linux on POWER. That seems to have been a pillar of their strategy.

        While this is a good thought, and they also derive some recognition as general Linux experts, I'm suprised they haven't more directly capitalized on their investment. I wou

    • There's one little problem with your suggestion, Morgaine: A huge cashflow and credit crunch is in progress, and companies are NOT choosing to buy big, expensive new servers right now. According to the AP [tinyurl.com],

      ...[S]ales of its high-end servers... fell 27 percent in the latest quarter to $576 million. That's a staggering shortfall for a division that contributes a quarter of Sun's overall revenue.

      "Build it and they will come" is not going to work in the current economic climate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jamesswift (1184223)

      their reputation in the open source world is marginal at best because they've always been half-hearted about it.

      I'm not really agreeing or disagreeing with that but just to provide an alternative opinion

      "I think Sun has, well, with this contribution, have contributed more than any other company to the free software community in the form of software. And it shows leadership. It's an example that I hope others will follow." - Richard Stallman

      http://www.fsfe.org/en/fellows/ciaran/ciaran_s_free_software_notes/sun_s_choice_of_the_gpl_and_rms_in_the_webcast [fsfe.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      I'm amazed that Sun are doing nothing in the mobile arena. ZFS would be amazing on small form-factor devices with flash storage, especially if you used the recording / transmit features for automatic backup when you docked the device. SPARC was designed to scale from very small to very large devices and there are a load of SPARC32 chips in embedded systems. From what I've seen of the OpenSPARC designs, the T2 would only need some small changes to be an amazing chip for handheld computing. It already has
    • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Saturday November 15, 2008 @09:32AM (#25770183) Homepage Journal

      I quite disagree: open source needs something to run on, and the price-performance of the Niagara is impressive. In the machine room, I'd rather have Sun, IBM or H-P gear than anything built on mas-market PC parts: I hate fixing critical components (;-))

      Open source software, on the other hand, is improved by being in a mass market: the price is already as low as you can get, so the effort goes into improving the quality. It's very welcome in my machine room.

      --dave

  • I think people are weary of euphemisms and see right through them. What people are looking for these days is a little honesty. I suggest "shit content zones".
  • Newsflash (Score:2, Insightful)

    Sun's approval rating drops by 15% - 18% today.

    "but CEO Jonathan Schwartz contends users will be more inclined to try open-source products such as MySQL, OpenSolaris and Sun's GlassFish application server during a time of economic stress."

    So, during a time of economic stress people will just be crawling over themselves to pay for MySQL, OpenSolaris, and GlassFish when the reason they would use those during such a time would be that they are free?

  • In moving to cut its current workforce by between 15% and 18% today, Sun is trying to stay ahead of a falling knife.

    What does it mean for a company to "survive" if it lays off most of its employees? I don't see what the point is.

    I've often thought about this notion of a company's lifespan. Where is it written that companies should live forever? They are made up of people with finite lifespans. Companies clearly go through similar "life" phases: enthusiasm of youth, conservatism of middle age, fatigue of

  • Since OO is FOSS, someone will simply fork the code with all that crap commented out.

  • Sounds like a new fork of OO is needed, one that is 'ad-free'.

  • They cannot compete with lower cost alternatives. The broad acceptance of the web and the victory of scale-out over scale-up has destroyed their market. They have the best buggy whip, only nobody wants a buggy whip these days. We all want racks of interchange-able throw-away blades. And there's no way Sun competes in that market. They're as dead as Cray, DEC, SGI and Data General. They just don't know it yet.
  • I don't really see a future for Sun. According to this http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081114.wsun1114/BNStory/Technology/home [theglobeandmail.com] Sun's market cap is below their cash on hand. That makes them ripe for a buyout and breakup.
    • With the stock market crash there are a LOT of companies like this. The problem is that they are burning through their cash so buying them does no good.

  • I have contributed to OpenOffice.org (testing) since earlier days. I had to switch away from it in January because trying to pass a contract back and forth with someone who uses MS Office resulted in a corrupted layout. (lots of other problems like that in the past, now I don't know).

    Let me just say that as much as I have wished well for OpenOffice and Sun, there is no way at all I would use OpenOffice if it had ads in it. Sure they can make money but just don't put advertising in it. I wouldn't use it for

  • Scratching my head (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bangzilla (534214) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @11:42AM (#25770673) Journal
    Couple of data points:
    1. My kids go to school in the Bay Area. Both have an impressive wardrobe of Sun-logo'd t-shirts (the designs are much better that your average "slap-a-logo-on-a-white-T"). While I'm not complaining, why is Sun clothing my children while laying off 5,000 staff?
    2. I've been in the computer business for ~25 years. I've done work with Sun in the past (~15 years ago). I can tell you what business Microsoft is in. I can tell you what business HP is in. Ditto Oracle. Heck I even think I could tell you what business IBM is in these days. I have *no* idea what business Sun is in. Oh I know they own some Open Source apps and once upon a time they made computers around the SPARC processor - but what do they do now? How do they intend to make money and return a profit for their shareholders?

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