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Sun's CEO On FOSS and the Cloud 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-clouds-block-the-sun dept.
ruphus13 writes "Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz continues to promote the use of Open Source, and says the downturn in the economy will only boost the momentum behind FOSS. From his post, 'Free and open source software is sweeping across the vast majority of the Fortune 500. When you see the world's most conservative companies starting to deploy open source, you know momentum is on your side. That's creating massive opportunity for those of us who have pioneered the market, to drive commercial opportunities... We announced just last week that we're building the Sun Cloud, atop open source platforms — from ZFS and Crossbow, to MySQL and Glassfish. By building on open source, we're able to avoid proprietary storage and networking products, alongside proprietary software.'" In related news, the Sun-IBM deal proposed last week has been called "anti-competitive" by a tech industry group, while others are speculating on how it could affect Linux and Java.
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Sun's CEO On FOSS and the Cloud

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  • Still the Cloud? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiot with a gun (1081749) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:36AM (#27312453)
    All this cloud nonsense is silly. Most end-users and businesses have invested way too much money in powerful workstations, desktops, and laptops, to justify scrapping them in favor of ultralights depending on cloud computing. It's just a marketing pipe dream.

    Even a watered down version of the cloud, say for storage has inherent security issues. How do you control what data goes where, who accesses it, how do you secure it, etc. If I'm counting on some server to hold all of my data outside of my computer, then god save me if I lose my network connection, or if their servers are compromised. At least if I lose my own data, I know whom to blame.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      All this cloud nonsense is silly. Most end-users and businesses have invested way too much money in powerful workstations, desktops, and laptops, to justify scrapping them in favor of ultralights depending on cloud computing.

      All that shit will be obsolete in two years or less, so this is a non-objection.

      It's just a marketing pipe dream.

      This part is still true. It's true, however, because mobile always-on internet access is still unreliable and expensive. (You can get it pretty cheap, but it's very bad.)

      • All that shit will be obsolete in two years or less, so this is a non-objection.

        Exactly. Instead of putting old computers into the wastebin, put them into the cloud as (smart) dumb terminals.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Exactly. Instead of putting old computers into the wastebin, put them into the cloud as (smart) dumb terminals.

          I only wish I could make a comment a reply to multiple comments (it would be the most abused feature ever, though.) In any case, you don't do this because the old machines become a support nightmare and they draw more power than the new machines. I just bought one of those 45W solar panel systems from Harbor Freight to fiddle around with. In any case, it wouldn't run my lady's old P4 laptop long, but if I don't use too much CPU it ought to run my Core 2 Duo system at least as long as the sun shines, if not

          • In any case, you don't do this because the old machines become a support nightmare and they draw more power than the new machines.

            Hardly. A modern $500 desktop computer would have to consume on average 190 Watts [google.com] less than the computer it replaces, 24 hours a day for at least three years, in order to justify it's purchase based on power savings alone. So there's not really any chance in hell of that happening, even if you're including monitors, which we're not since they can be upgraded separately. (I realize this is a simplistic assessment but I'd be happy to do a more thorough one if you don't believe me.)

            As for support, well that

      • by maxume (22995)

        Obsolete in what sense? Something not worth repairing can still be worth using (and this tends to get more true as price drops and performance increases...).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          In large companies, you don't run equipment without a service contract.

          Typical service contracts run for 3 years. You can continue to pay for support, but at some point you're paying more than it would cost to buy new.

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            Our organization is not huge, but not tiny either (a little over 1000 employees), and though it's not all that common, we will typically run hardware without a service contract. Prior to this I worked at a large state university that did the same. The simple fact is that with in-house IT staff (who are already on the clock and paid for), the odd hard drive crash or CDROM dieing is trivial to repair (when necessary - the majority of systems will go far longer than 3 years without any hardware issues).

            Now,

            • Now, for large software packages we certainly don't run without paid support, but that's another matter entirely.

              No, it's not another matter entirely. It's exactly what the Sun Cloud is about. Don't know what you and all the other people talking about utility computing and thin clients have to do with this discussion.

          • Something tells me that Google doesn't pay for service contracts. Or were you referring to companies larger than Google?

            • Who says Google doesn't pay for service contracts?

              Google is open in many ways but very secretive in others. Especially about their infrastructure.

              Their main search platform, probably not, but not everything seems to run on the main search platform.

              A few years ago it was easy to find links to McNealy talking about how sun servers were used to power adwords/adsense or something along those lines. Hard to find those links now. All I can seem to find is this story where mcnealy mentions he can't give specifics [zdnet.com]

            • he was refering to companies that are not IT shops. IT companies like google, MS, Sun, etc. have in-house expertise to deal with whatever happens, not to mentions that most of what they run is developed in-house too.

              now, google, IBM, MS, HP, etc. are not the only mega-companies in the world, you know ? there are people like GM, Ford, Daimler, GE, Honda, Toyota, Shell, Vale, etc. none of them are IT shops. the later ones like a lot to have service contracts in place to deal with stuff that's not part of thei

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by noundi (1044080)
      First of all it's not something you migrate to in a heartbeat. It takes time and careful consideration. And you're right, not all benefit from it but why should they? Or more importantly, why is it bad unless the majority benefits from it? There are many businesses that would find this to be a good solution. And what goes for central storage, most larger networks often use a similair solution. I have my data on my hard drive, but trust me, if I lose my network connection my data is rendered more or less use
    • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:48AM (#27312625)
      Yes, still the cloud.
      My guess is that you don't have much experience in supporting large numbers of "...powerful workstations, desktops, and laptops..." If you did, you wouldn't make such stupid presumptions like thinking that the amount of money "invested" in that hardware is the significant cost associated with operating that hardware and the systems that depend on it.

      There are many potential reasons why cloud computing may not be a good fit, but the "waste" of jettisoning legacy hardware is hardly one of them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pilgrim23 (716938)
        One interesting example of "the cloud" would be the way IBM and other hardware engineers (CEs to the older among us) report basic hardware issues on trouble tickets from customer sites. I say IBM because the ubiquitous "IBM Brick" was the communication device every CE carried in the 70s and 80s. Now everyone from Ikon Office to NCR has a version of it on a Cell network. The Engineer updates the ticket, orders parts, pages people, gets customer authorization and even supply billing , heck he can even chat fr
      • But isn't that more to do with Virtualization? Where you have a large local server and terminal workstations?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Even a watered down version of the cloud, say for storage has inherent security issues. How do you control what data goes where, who accesses it, how do you secure it, etc.

      Some of that can be helped with proper implementation of encryption, if anyone actually got around to dealing with this problem in a thorough manner.

      If I'm counting on some server to hold all of my data outside of my computer, then god save me if I lose my network connection

      That wouldn't be so frequent if people took data infrastructure seriously, but also it can be helped by proper use of caching/syncing.

      or if their servers are compromised.

      That's what backups are for.

      I'm not really dismissing your points, but rather trying to point out that none of these things are insurmountable. It's just that people have done a poor job of addressing your concerns up to this p

      • Preventing vendor lock in. Ensuring privacy of sensitive data. Neither of these is possible with any cloud computing product available. The cloud is great if you want to have 10,000 boxes gathering data, then ask 10,000 boxes for their opinion, and return a summary of the opinion of those boxes that returned in a timely enough fashion. For problems that are best solved in this way, clouds are great. Great for Google spitting out a list of links with no hard requirement that they be anything but crap, g
        • Re:Still the Cloud? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @01:02PM (#27313943) Homepage

          Preventing vendor lock in. Ensuring privacy of sensitive data. Neither of these is possible with any cloud computing product available.

          I'm decidedly not saying that any "cloud" service currently available is perfect. I'm saying many of the problems are not inherent, but rather could be solved. For example, having fast and reliable ubiquitous Internet access isn't something that Amazon or Google could simply fix. It's an infrastructure problem, and that infrastructure can be improved greatly from its current state.

      • by garaged (579941)

        I don't see google accepting to store my info encrypted.

        I don't know about amazon's service, or any other, but I think the only way to achieve security is to actually rent servers or at least VPS.

        This cloud thing is a synonim for cluster and that has lived for long years

    • by rackserverdeals (1503561) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:25PM (#27313253) Homepage Journal

      All this cloud nonsense is silly. Most end-users and businesses have invested way too much money in powerful workstations, desktops, and laptops, to justify scrapping them in favor of ultralights depending on cloud computing. It's just a marketing pipe dream.

      The version of the cloud they are releasing is similar to the Amazon EC2 platform. It is not currently aimed at "workstatinos, desktops and laptops" as you said. The primary focus seems to be for startups and other companies that need an easy way to grow their infrastructure without having to make a big investment in hardware.

      One example is a merchant that does 90% of their business around Christmas. Instead of having a rack full of expensive computers in a colo facility sitting 90% idle most of the year, they can expand their capacity just when they need it and save a lot of money.

      Sun put up some videos from a recent conference where they annouced the Sun Cloud [sun.com].

      It's very cool. Think about all the times you've developed your dream infrastructure and maybe drew it out in Visio or Dia, except when you're adding shapes into your network diagram, actual virtual servers are being deployed.

      At least that's what the demonstration shows.

      Now lets say you're having a problem with your appllcation and you don't know where it is but you have to do some stress testing to figure it out. You can't do that to your live system.

      You can essentially copy and paste your whole production configuration as a test environment, run your tests, profiling, fix your application, then delete the whole setup and never have to pay for it again. You can't do that with real hardware.

      You could do the same with a development environment. And it seems you only pay while it's running, so you launch it from 9-5 (ok 11:30ish to 4:19pm) and turn it off the rest of the time to save money. Should be much cheaper than buying twice as many real servers.

      • by khanyisa (595216)
        So what do the people running the cloud do at Christmas if most of the people they're supporting need 10 times the load? Clearly there could be an advantage in other situations, but it doesn't solve everything...
        • So what do the people running the cloud do at Christmas if most of the people they're supporting need 10 times the load?

          The cloud provider is going to have a heterogeneous set of customers.

          Perhaps your e-commerce company needs to scale up for Christmas, while my monthly payment processor needs to scale up on the first day of every month, and some other customer has to scale up on Mondays to deal with processing that queued up over the weekend, and some other customer scales up at night for nightly processing, and some other customer needs to scale up during business hours, and...

          In other words, demand gets smoothed out a bit

    • Re:Still the Cloud? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tranzistors (1180307) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:37PM (#27313501)

      Even a watered down version of the cloud, say for storage has inherent security issues. How do you control what data goes where, who accesses it, how do you secure it, etc.
      If I got it correctly, SUN will provide cloud under roof â" cloud is owned and controlled by the company using it.
      From http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/unified_computing [sun.com]

      Third, unlike our peers, we also announced our cloud will be available for deployment behind corporate firewalls - that we'll commercialize our public cloud by instantiating it in private datacenters for those customers who can't, due to regulation, security or business constraints, use a public cloud. We recognize that workloads subject to fiduciary duty or regulatory scrutiny won't move to public clouds - if you can't move to the cloud, we'll move the cloud to you.

    • My wife an I both have iPhones. I'd guess that somewhere in neighborhood of 30%-40% of the people I know have some version of smart phone, and those numbers are growing. Netbooks are one of the fastest growing segments of the computer industry. You're both right and wrong. I don't see a lot of people giving up their powerful home systems for when they are sitting at their base of operations and "working", but lots of advantages can be seen for the rest of the time.

      I think what we'll see on the personal

    • by eudaemon (320983)

      Let's push your argument about not needing for the desktop aside for a moment --
      what about analytical work that outclasses portable devices? Think sketching up
      a simulation on your Gphone and then throwing it to the amazon could for number crunching.

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      We're actually moving in this direction, due mainly to security and data retention/backups. Currently, security is mainly failing at the personal level. This isn't always due to maliciousness but mostly to human stupidity. Putting controls and audit trails on stuff makes securing data easier.

  • by Xemu (50595) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:42AM (#27312535) Homepage

    Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz continues to promote ... says the downturn in the economy will only boost the momentum ...That's creating massive opportunity for those of us who have pioneered the market, to drive commercial opportunities... We announced just last week that ...

    So in other words, A high-level spokesperson for [vendor X] is quoted as saying that [recent event] is really good for [vendor X] business, and that recently released [product Y] is positioned perfectly for current market conditions.

    What a surprise.

    • But it's really hard to argue now that their F/LOSS portfolio is a burden and was a waste of money.

      Whoever planned those acquisitions in past was visionary.

      But whoever would have to capitalize on that now ... good luck. He'd better be at least a double visionary of the previous guy.

      I'd say Sun, a not-so-much service company compared to HP or IBM, is in quite bad position. Their corporate culture is also not that nice to customers: they are used too much to selling boxes. All that "service" thing i

    • by kestasjk (933987) *
      Microsoft will say during a downturn no-one will want to invest in training and software migration, and can make up some TCO numbers anyway..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pr0nbot (313417)
      The motives for a statement have no relevance to its truth or untruth.
  • Sun's strategy is sound. Essentially, it's to become to provider of dev tools of choice and then use those developers to promote their tools in the organizations in which they work. Those organizations will then need to buy support from Sun.

    It's a great strategy, but it takes time to execute. Unfortunately, the recession happened at the wrong time and 10% of Sun's customers went under.

    • Jonathan Schwartz put out a series of 4 videos on his blog [sun.com] (YouTube versions here [youtube.com]) where he outlines the strategy you mentioned.

      It seems to make sense. The economic downturn really hurt sun because a lot of it's big clients in their high margin areas were on Wall St.

      I hope they work through it because they're a very innovative company for their size. For example, Intel still hasn't released their 8 core (2 threads per core) chips yet, while Sun has had 8 core 8 thread per core chips for a while now. They ar

  • Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz continues to promote the use of Open Source...

    Strange words considering that JavaFX is only for Windows and Mac. The promised [sun.com] linux and solaris release is nowhere to be found, and the hacks for installing the 1.0 mac version on linux were broken in the javafx 1.1 (also Windows/Mac only) release.

    When Schwartz talks about the "cloud", I think he's really talking about vaporware.

  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:58AM (#27312769) Homepage Journal

    As an Evil Contractor[TM], I usually find a downturn increase both

    • my business, and
    • my customers' interest in low-cost, medium-performance or medium-feature-set solutions.

    --dave

  • If you use and opensource product without any modification and then the last 1% features are missing to make your product viable, what you can do is implement the changes to the source yourself, it doesn't matter how badly you code it as long at the original base code is sound.

    when you buy in a proprietary product you have to rely full on that outside company to create the remaining features, they may have all the essentials but none of the nice to have features and are often built around archaic systems th

  • Sun "is having a Yahoo moment," said Rob Enderle, a veteran technology analyst and principal of San Jose-based Enderle Group. But unlike Yahoo's fierce fight to remain independent, Sun has reportedly been actively seeking an acquirer.
    Sun has taken a beating in recent years. Its server was favored during the dot-com era, but the company found its products being sold at bargain basement prices following the bust. Its servers are considered to be of the highest quality, and their prices match that reputation.
  • "In related news, the Sun-IBM deal proposed last week has been called "anti-competitive" by a tech industry group"

    "CCIA is a D.C.-based lobby group whose member includes Microsoft [networkcomputing.in], Google, and Advanced Micro Devices, as well as mainframe maker T3 Technologies", Mar 2009

    "The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) is criticizing a decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use [computerworld.com] Microsoft Corp. software ..

    "The CCIA represents three of Microsoft's biggest direct com
  • If you read Jonathan's blog (http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/), there's nothing new in this article. Either Jonathan has perfect memory to repeat entire paragraphs, or the journalist (or some Sun PR folk) just copy&pasted large chuncks of text from recent blog posts.

  • The astute amongst you may have noticed that between the quotation marks was nothing at all. After reasonable editing, that's all Schwartz ever says--nothing.

    For the last ten years I've been a full-time Solaris admin (before that was a mix of HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, OSF/1(!), and other misc.). In that time, Jonathan Schwartz has NEVER said anything of substance. Nor has he done anything positive for the company.

    When he was McNealy's lap-dog, he'd say stupid things and the stock would go up. When he became CEO,

    • by John Bayko (632961) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @02:41PM (#27315713)

      It's very difficult to get a concrete handle on Jonathan Schwartz' description of Sun's strategy, but not impossible. I don't know why Jonathan prefers generalities rather than actual examples, but it may be either not wanting to give away strategic secrets to competitors, or because it's just such a large company that there's no single example that he thinks stands out.

      But there is a strategy. To take MySQL as an example, why spend a billion dollars on a free database?

      First, it's both promotion, and a point of contact to get in touch with people who are doing something database-y - and might also want ZFS and Solaris. And maybe it's a pilot project for something that's going to need a lot of servers later - free software has to run on something. It's a combination of marketing and customer relations.

      There are two kinds of customers, Jonathan points out - those which need expensive support contracts because their downtime would cost even more, and those who don't. Previously those who don't would by cheaper software, but by making all the important software free, there's no profit in competing at the low end anymore. This is exactly the niche that Microsoft Windows (and other Microsoft products) grew into, eventually displacing more and more Unix (including Sun) and mini/mainframe (DEC, IBM) systems. Free software forms a kind of firebreak around the profit services, preventing small competitors from doing the same thing again. Jonathan Schwartz doesn't actually say anything like this, but it is a side effect of free software, and Red Hat does the same thing. In this sense, buying MySQL and giving away the software preserves Sun profits (small companies can still compete, but by using the same software - MySQL, Linux, Solaris, Apache - they are now interchangeable with Sun, so there's no "Windows lock-in" effect).

      Of course, if the software runs best on Sun hardware, all the better. For example, the UltraSPARK T1/T2 systems which run multithreaded workloads so well. Being able to, say, make MySQL more threaded would give them an advantage.

      The "cloud computing" thing hasn't been really well defined, but is basically a potential development platform, like web applications. Like many, Sun has been trying for a long time to get the technology right, including a number of Java technologies (remember Jini and JXTA?). The ultimate goal with that is to basically break down the barrier between those "expensive contract customers" and "free software" customers by making "computing services" so flexible and easy that it's no longer a question of either a million dollar contract, or do it yourself - you can define where and how you want to access your computing resources, and exactly how much control you want over them, and just pay for what you want or need. And what you don't want to pay for, you do yourself. Obviously big customers can't be milked forever (the current recession is a big threat).

      If there's one characteristic that Sun has displayed, it's trying to be ahead of the curve in the technology market. That means a lot of mistakes, and trying a lot of things in immature, unprofitable markets, with the hopes that when they hit the right thing, they'll make it big by being first. They don't want to be "Microsofted" like IBM was.

      The downside is it looks like Sun is doing a lot of insane things, giving up profits in mature areas for "happy thoughts". I won't say whether these strategies are the best or most effective, or premature or just dumb. But of all the original Unix workstation makers, Sun alone is still around and independent. There must be a reason for that.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @01:00PM (#27313911) Homepage

    Forecast is cloudy with a chance of data loss.

  • WTF? A dying company gets a lifeline from a viable one, and people are objecting? If Sun dries up and blows away, how is that going to make for a more competitive marketplace?

    -jcr

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