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Sun Microsystems

Sun's Last Stand 553

Posted by michael
from the nautical-twilight dept.
non writes "Wired has an article by Gary Revlin in the July edition about the current state of affairs at Sun. He attributes half of Sun's problems to failure to recognize the emergence of Linux, and the other half to their failure to make up with Microsoft, and finishes up with a server price comparison. An interesting read."
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Sun's Last Stand

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  • For payback (Score:5, Funny)

    by BoomerSooner (308737) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:42AM (#6191254) Homepage Journal
    Apple should offer them 25% of their current stock price in a buy-out offer.

    Burn baby burn. Wait what does this mean for the UltraSPARC I just bought! Doh.
    • Re:For payback (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Brad Cossette (319687) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:48AM (#6191318)
      See, I'd figure IBM as a more likely candidate to buy out SUN. Big Blue has already made a significant investment into UNIX/AIX and Linux and especially Java, so from the software side there's incentive that way. Plus, servers and high-end workstations are still a mainstay of IBM's business.

      While I've seen some adds for Apple servers, I don't know if that's a market Apple can or will thrive in - SUN just doesn't seem to add much to Apple unless they're looking at expanding their business directions.

      • Re:For payback (Score:2, Informative)

        by elmegil (12001)
        Sun is not getting bought out, and no amount of press misrespresentations are going to change that.
        • This was not even close to what the article was trying to say. It is slasdot misunderstanding.
      • Re:For payback (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ePhil_One (634771)
        See, I'd figure IBM as a more likely candidate to buy out SUN.

        Exactly what does IBM get by buying out Sun?

        * Fast RISC chips? IBM's already got them and they're incompatible.

        * High Powered Unix? AIX is pretty good, and they've already set a path towards Linux, not Solaris

        * Big development force? Well, there is this, though I'm sure IBM could rehire some of its folks or some Mad Skillz linux hackers that would have a more appropriate skill set.

        * Tech to do massive SMP? Maybe, but they got mad Parallel

    • Re:For payback (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RoLi (141856) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:31PM (#6191717)
      I think Sun is worth much more, a lot more.

      But only if they play their cards right.

      Sun has 1 thing no other big computer-maker has: Complete independence from Microsoft.

      If Sun were smart they would slap together cheap parts (may be but don't have to be x86), put KDE (not GNOME) and Linux on it and offer it at a good price.

      IBM, HP, Dell etc. can't react that easily because they have to fear retaliation from Microsoft, so Sun could be the only serious Linux workstation maker for quite a few years. Despite all financial problems, Sun has a very good trademark so I have no doubt that Sun could sell a lot of those machines.

      Also this wouldn't hurt their server business because those machines would be desktops.

      • Re:For payback (Score:3, Informative)

        by John Bayko (632961)
        They are. The project is called "Mad Hatter":

        http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,541297,00.as p [eweek.com]

        It's aimed at corporate desktops, not home users - places where companies want to have more control over what users install, but want a complete user-friendly software suite for normal office work. It's also aimed at places where users are likely to move around, and have a need to be able to access their own files on other machines (trying to do that with Windows NT is nearly impossible - while users can hav

    • Re:For payback (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jagapen (11417)
      That'd just be too ironic. NeXT and Sun worked together to push the OpenStep standard, but Sun pulled out to focus on Java. Apple bought NeXT and turned OPENSTEP into Rhapsody, which begat MacOS X after widespread developer revolt. In the transitition, there was a big push within Apple to convert everything over to Java. (Even the Objective C syntax!) That initiative failed (performance was brutally awful), and Java is still supported but little-used.
      Sun and NeXT/Apple just haven't been able to get alo
  • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:43AM (#6191270) Journal
    Possibly of interest, news from three days ago:

    Linux uptimes comparable with Solaris on busy sites [netcraft.com]

    Comparisons of mean time between reboots on Linux and Solaris are very topical, as the top are often thrown head to head in cost benefit analysis of server platforms. It is interesting to review the uptimes of some of the internet's busier servers hosted at Sun, Google and Akamai. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is how few reboots there are on the networks, given the amount of traffic they see, though in absolute numbers the average number of days between reboots is higher at Sun than either of the two Linux based companies.

    • Netcraft's site discusses how they gather the uptime, and states that Solaris, Linux, and HP-UX (maybe more) all will max out in those charts at 497 days, due to limitations in whatever they're using to measure uptime remotely.

      The *BSD boxes don't have that limitation, it seems.

      I wonder how many boxes are out there where this 497-day counter has "rolled over", and if this figure is accurate given that limitation?
    • by pmz (462998) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:15PM (#6192252) Homepage
      Linux uptimes comparable with Solaris on busy sites

      Uptime makes for very good anectodal evidence, but it also makes for a poor benchmark, in general. The reason is that uptime is very much a function of a business' own policies regarding patching, maintainence, etc. These policies have much more effect on uptime than software or hardware reliability, unless, of course, you buy a more expensive hot-swap-even-the-damn-kernel server ("midframe" and high-end Sun servers at $100K+).

      Regardless, I agree it is not debatable that both Solaris and Linux make damn fine webserver platforms.
  • by ajiva (156759) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:45AM (#6191294)
    People are always predicting doom for Sun and Apple, and yet both companies manage to hold on. Sun's doing much better than a year ago and is selling LOTS of hardware. They aren't dead yet...
    • Sun's doing much better than a year ago

      That's not saying much considering how much Sun lost a year ago.

      From the article: As of early May, its stock, down 94 percent from a 2000 high
    • by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:31PM (#6192471) Journal
      Oh come on, Apple survived because it got Jobs back and he understood the Apple product was about marketing to consumers, not technical excellence. Its a brand name, like Mercedes Benz, but face it, most people will buy their Toyota Camrys (or SUVs) and be quite happy pocketing the difference.

      Sun is screwed. Marketing is important, but the bottom dollar and technical capability is more important. Much of their target server applications will be taken by linux, and if the Fortune 100 client needs handholding, they can hire IBM for the 24x7.

      No, Sun is not going to disappear tomorrow, but its definitely headed towards the Niche Zone. I think its simple. If you think their projected products will draw corporate customers back to Sun, then they will prosper. If not, they're the next UNISYS.
  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by DShard (159067) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:45AM (#6191295)
    That summary is only half correct. The article attributes the preoccupation with microsoft as one of their problems... not with making up with them (which they still haven't)
    • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Interesting)

      by indros (211103)
      I thought the summary already said what you're saying... and the other half to their failure to make up with Microsoft
    • Sun is a victim of Microsoft and Baby Bells. It's unfair to blame Sun for much of the mess they are in. It would be stupid to write off such a good quality equipment maker.

      The Baby Bells used their last mile monopoly to kill the "dot com" folks. The bandwith demands have grown, but not like they could have and they are concentrated in far fewer hands. This has made a glut of Sun equipment. A friend of mine bought and ultra spark, which once sold for $10,000, for less than the price of a high end home

  • by haydenth (588730) <haydenth@@@msu...edu> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:47AM (#6191307)
    I think you can partially blame sun's (demise?) on their inability to attract younger developers. As a (younger) sysadmin, I didn't touch a sun box until I got into my first job. Even then I am concentrating on migrating everything over to Linux because it is what I know. I think the same applies in a lot of cases, especially with the younger-folk. How many teenagers do you see trying out Solaris? How many do you see trying out Linux? I would imagine that Linux would far exceed Sun.

    When my boss asks me to recommend a server, I would most definetely recommend a Linux server over a Solaris box simply because I have far more experience with Linux than with Unix.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:54AM (#6191377)
      I have a lot of experience in MS-DOS. I don't know what this Linux thing is, even though I have to use it at work. When my boss asks me to recommend a server, I would most definately recommend a MS-DOS server over the Linux box simply because I have far more experience with MS-DOS than Linux.
    • by bmj (230572) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:54AM (#6191379) Homepage
      well, obviously it's easier for someone to cut their teeth on linux, since anyone can download a distro and install it. not so easy with sun/solaris.

      but, you're still not going to convince a large, lumbering manufacturing company running decidely unsexy applications to switch to linux. i've worked with a number of clients that couldn't switch from solaris even if they wanted to, because their apps just don't exist for linux (think erp/mrp systems).

      plus, if you need lots of processing power, you can certainly set up a cluster of cheap lintel boxes, but why spend the time/money on that when you could just throw an enterprise server in there, and just have it work?
      • by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:04PM (#6191477)
        Sure it's more difficult (if you don't want to pay $20), but certainly possible [sun.com] even for the poorest college students.
        • Sure it's more difficult (if you don't want to pay $20), but certainly possible even for the poorest college students

          This is where Sun is screwing itself over. Sun is a hardware company, and they make their money selling hardware, and support for that hardware. Their business model seems to be based on selling proprietary hardware which costs a lot, and is worth a lot. They need, among other things, scads of college students who are familiar with their OS and willing to recommend it over things like Li

    • I whole heartedly agree. I have been dissecting linux implementations for a few years now to become effective in it's administration. I cannot do that as easily with Solaris. There is a cornicopia of info for linux on the web. Solaris? NADA.

      Recently when we had a melt down of our application box, we had horrible service from Sun... and had to track down competent consultants to get it back to running. I no longer need to chant "Move to Linux" every other day because Suns doing all the reinforceme
    • by presearch (214913) * on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:08PM (#6191519)
      ...because it is what I know.

      You might be doing yourself a disservice, and maybe selling yourself short.
      File structures may be different, configuring stuff in /etc might be moved around,
      but the diff between Solaris (or IRIX, or OS X, or AIX) and Linux isn't any wider
      than variants in Linux distributions. Just running an unfamiliar shell on a Linux
      box could make it seem like a foreign machine if that's not what you're used to.

      What's easiest for you also might be blinding you to choosing the best box for
      the task at hand. I think Solaris tends to have more "torque" under load than
      Linux, OS X is better at interoperability with other systems, and IRIX...well, no comment.

      There's also the factor of uptime and service contract support. If you spend the bucks,
      when a Sun box breaks, they'll get things back in order quickly. Sure you could run
      down to Best Buy and get parts for your Linux box, but some places feel uncomfortable
      with that, as they should.

      Not that I like Sun all that much. They could use some of the modern polish that
      Apple has put into OS X. Sun maintenance and installation feels very dated to me.
      But they do run and run and run and most anything Linux can do, in the server world,
      can be done (often better) with Solaris.
      • Torque? (Score:4, Funny)

        by tacokill (531275) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:21PM (#6191626)
        Wow, that's the first time I've ever heard torque used when talking about computers.

        Cool. I'm gonna use that now. :-)
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:48PM (#6191926)
        Are you living in a cave? One of *the* great things about sun hardware and solaris is jumpstart, the ability to go to the 'ok>' prompt on a sun box (find that on your home PC for me, wouldja boy?), type "boot net - install" and wack, 30 minutes later you've got a box installed that looks exactly like the 200 other boxes ... you just installed.

        PuLEASE, if all you want is glitz, don't talk about Linux, solaris, or the *BSDs; what you're really looking for is Fischer-Price.
    • by bob dobalina (40544) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:22PM (#6191630)
      -- it's keeping them. I went to work for Sun my first job out of school. Our lab had largely Sun workstations and I really cut my unix teeth with Solaris, so the opportunity to go work for them was huge for me. When I went to work there, only 3 people in my group were over 30.

      I went to interview at their brand new (at the time) Burlington, MA facility and I was simply amazed at the place; the facilities, the people and the atmosphere was so key in my going to work there (as was the salary they offered). I still think it's a great place to work, especially for people in my age group (I'm 25) who grew up getting used to flex time. That I could take a long lunch, play a few rounds of foosball and go to the gym at 4 in the afternoon made me a happy camper.

      The problems began when I started sensing I ought to be moving up (or at least, around) in the company. I started in a position I liked but didn't want to stay in for more than a year or so, and as I started to make pushes to move around I was met with stiff resistance. Management claimed it was because of the economy, but I knew people who moved around and they weren't exactly examples of people who were going to save the company.

      The key to this issue was that while Sun was publicly making overtures towards attracting the younger developers, the first and second level managers were only advertising positions for senior engineers and were being very inflexible in "stretching" the job prereq's for younger engineers. I often think the only reason I got a job in the first place was because I came in during one of the last "conscription"-type expansions the company did before the IT sector did its nosedive.

      To this day they still have that problem; I often consider going back to Sun because the corporate culture is fast moving, fun and flexible, and I doubt I'll find that in any other company of that size. But the jobs and the people they're hiring now are all mid- or senior-level engineers.

      So actually, now that I think about it, maybe it's more apt to say their problem isn't attracting young engineers -- the culture is almost geared towards them (why else would you put foosball tables and a Starbucks in your engineering centers?). The problem is that once they've attracted the young people, they have to get their managers to hire them.
    • As a (younger) sysadmin, I didn't touch a sun box until I got into my first job. Even then I am concentrating on migrating everything over to Linux because it is what I know.

      Well I am sorry to say this, but that is the wrong attitude, the right tool for the job. I know ton's of younger SysAdmins who argue exactly like you (and heck, I am only in this business for the past 10 years).

      Linux is NOT the end all and be all as much as most Linux advocats would like to see it, there are very good reasons why pe
  • Scalability and cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@booksunderreview . c om> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:47AM (#6191309) Homepage Journal
    Sun's current "low-end" tactic of trying to replace Linux with Sun on x86 is going to win a lot of converts. There are a lot of applications out there and companies that are used to Solaris and that installed base isn't going to just go away peacefully.

    The biggest argument for converting servers to smaller x86 boxes has been scalability and cost. Linux is a popular way to do that, but many companies have been using various BSD variants as well because they are more comfortable with server vs. desktop oriented software. Sun will do very well in those areas with their new emphasis.

    For a company that wants to keep their big hardware on Solaris for some stuff, it makes a lot of sense to standardize on Solaris for their cheap x86 servers as well.
    • by 4of12 (97621) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:34PM (#6191746) Homepage Journal

      Sun's current "low-end" tactic of trying to replace Linux with Sun on x86 is going to win a lot of converts.

      I disagree.

      Solaris/x86 is too much of a niche OS, doesn't get the attention from commercial and FOSS providers that Linux or even the BSDs do.

      Migrating to Solaris/x86 is taking a needles baby step across a relatively small stream for long time Solaris users that are conservative and nervous about Linux.

      I've used Suns workstations since the mid 1980s and they've been great in their time. But in the last several years, the only market remaining for Suns was in big 64-way servers full of disks, inas much as their market at the lower end has been eaten up by cheaper x86 hardware that is not only performing "good enough" for the low end, but better in a lot of cases.

      And so while we still run Sun servers for high capacity network-based storage (and Hitachi does their SANs), our new single-purpose servers are increasingly Lintel based. It's only a matter of time before iSCSI and Gigabit Ethernet eat into the network storage market, too.

      Sun's contributed a lot to UNIX over the years (RPC, NFS, NIS, OpenOffice) and I'd like to see them stick around because I think they have a lot of talented people that could contribute a lot more. But they need to move on into different markets because the old markets are disappearing into commoditized Lintel boxes.

      My view is that Sun should focus on providing software and services for enterprise wide LAN management and integration since this is one area where Linux needs some help. Desktop Linux deployments are increasing and they need to be managed efficiently and integrated effectively into heterogeneous corporate environments. Sun could do this if they decided they wanted to.

  • as the leading Unix server seller in the last few months?
  • Sun selling me stuff (Score:4, Informative)

    by BJZQ8 (644168) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:48AM (#6191315) Homepage Journal
    Sun has tried to sell me some servers before (this is education, remember)...but in an age of white boxes that do the same thing for a fraction of the cost, I can't really justify it for a small district. They did send me an evaluation of StarOffice (read the article yesterday)...and I might switch some machines over from MS Office...but servers, no way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:48AM (#6191316)
    And just like predictions of Apple's demise over the years, it's a load of crap.
    • Apple wasn't committing the equivilent to suicide by attempting to step on the very people who make it work.
      In fact, if anything, Apple has continued to survive and/or grow partly by catering strongly to its target audience, and receiving mass-loyaltyin turn.
  • Java (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:49AM (#6191324)

    What I've never understood about Sun is why they didn't make it easier to install Java on a client machine. If you tried to do it (on either Windows or Linux) you would find that the process was increadably badly designed. Most members of the normal public wouldn't stand a chance installing it.

    Did they do this on purpose, or are they just incompetent? I've just noticed that they've made it much easier, but for years it was very difficult, at least for normal people.
    • Re:Java (Score:3, Insightful)

      by selderrr (523988)
      um.. my guess is that they expected it to be bundled with the OS when shipping the machine. That's probably why MS poked them in the ass with a hot stick when they decided NOT to ship XP with java.

      Might I add that upgrading java on OSX is seamless via Software Update ?

      As a sidenote : it would be a move of genius for Apple to extend Software Update for 3rd party soft... Make a deal with VersionTracker or sumtin...
      • Re:Java (Score:3, Informative)

        by _xeno_ (155264)
        Sun doesn't have an MacOS X Java distribution. (Actually, they don't have a MacOS distribution at all.) The MacOS X Java distribution [apple.com] is done through Apple, and not through Sun. Sun releases Java [sun.com] for three platforms: Windows, Solaris, and Linux (well, sorta seven, if you count the 64-bit variants for all three and the x86 Solaris variant).

        That's why updating Java on MacOS X is so much better than on Windows - it's done by Apple, not Sun :)

        Sun is trying to improve the situation somewhat by offering a

    • Did they do this on purpose, or are they just incompetent?

      I guess the answer is "incompetent". I just tried to install Java on my Windows XP machine and crashed it. Admittedly it was much easier to install though!
    • Re:Java (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pierreg0 (251589)
      Not just easier to install, but more transparent. It seems that applets are becoming more popular for advertising on web pages (lately I've been bumping into an Animatrix ad that uses an applet), and every time IE has to initially load the JVM the web page stalls for a good 3-5 seconds (and I'm running a 2.0 GHz machine).

      As for stand-alone Java GUI applications, I tend to avoid them because they hog memory and the interface is slow (although, this is starting to change with apps that use SWT; e.g. - Eclip
    • Re:Java (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:40PM (#6191826) Homepage Journal
      Sun does not, nor will it ever, understand users. The entire company is geared toward sysadmins who are expected to be able to jump through install hoops and tweak systems to get top performance.

      It will kill them.

      Sun is proud of their "9's" - 99.999...% uptime. The truth is that 99.99% of businesses don't need that percentage. Sun is proud of their scaling, but I've got news - 99.99% of businesses don't need that much power. It's also clear that we'll hit 10Ghz machines with multiple gigs of RAM in just a few years, and they'll cost around $1K; if you want terabytes of disk it may cost around $2K. How is Sun going to compete with that?

      When any Luser can buy a machine that competes rather well with a Sun box, and can install any amount of easy software instead of Sun's pain in the ass stuff...

      RIP Sun

      <rant off>
      • Re:Java (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hiro Antagonist (310179) on Friday June 13, 2003 @02:22PM (#6193041) Journal
        Sun does not, nor will it ever, understand users. The entire company is geared toward sysadmins who are expected to be able to jump through install hoops and tweak systems to get top performance.

        That's correct, and a Ferrari is aimed at drivers who know how to properly handle a sports car. The multitude of schmucks buying them to impress other people, while signifigant, represents a much smaller segment of the market -- most of the young rich idiots who buy Ferraris without ever learning to drive on a race track end up getting themselves killed.

        Sun is proud of their "9's" - 99.999...% uptime. The truth is that 99.99% of businesses don't need that percentage. Sun is proud of their scaling, but I've got news - 99.99% of businesses don't need that much power.

        Right, but the ones that do (They're known as the 'Fortune 500') are willing to pay premium prices to get what they want, just like Ferrari drivers. Sure, it's a niche market, but it's a lucrative one.

        It's also clear that we'll hit 10Ghz machines with multiple gigs of RAM in just a few years, and they'll cost around $1K; if you want terabytes of disk it may cost around $2K. How is Sun going to compete with that?

        Right, and how do I make two hundred clones of your monster Wintel machine in an hour and a half, without needing an assistant? Oh, wait, I can't. Will I be able to swap out CPUs without a second of downtime? Can I reassign hardware resources between different virtual domains on this monster workstation from a terminal on a different continent without needing to physically touch the machine, all without downtime? Is your monster PC going to be able to handle transferring over 40G/sec on its motherboard backplane to multiple drives?

        I don't think you really understand how this technology is used.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:49AM (#6191330)
    Sun was riding on top of the world during the boom periods. The problem was all its new customers were startups. When the recession happened Sun pretty much lost the bulk of its customers.
    Only real lesson I see is if you court customers whose entire business model is based on riding an irrational economic wave, be prepared to lose all their revenue input when the tide comes crashing down.
    IBM on the other hand kept playing to its usual customers, other big name and stable companies, so it rode out the recession almost completely un-scathed.

  • by Jerk City Troll (661616) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#6191355) Homepage
    It does come as any surprise. The Sun will surely fail once it exhausts all of its fuel. Yes, it will take billions perhaps trillions of years, but no energy source is infinite no matter what the marketing hype says. All that remains is for Netcraft to confirm it.
  • Heres to hoping that the Hypertransport consortium becomes to Apple what the CHRP spec always promised to do. Common specs + multiple vendors (apple, amd and who else?) = cheaper prices for everyone. From what I gathered the first area we will see the hypertransport spec will be in connecting the PCI bridge and various components like that - not processor to memory connections. But that said, it seems to me Apple is really jumping on the right bandwagon here, anything that moves the platform away from this
  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#6191358) Homepage
    Since I am a Java consultant, I usually take the time to watch the Keynote speeches at Java One on their web site (RealVideo is awesome :-).

    There does seem to be a sense of angst in the presentations: just about everyone seems to gripe about the economy. As a long time holoder of Sun stock (ouch!), I can feel their pain. On the other hand, recently a top Micorosft exec was complaining to me about the value of his stock options - everyone is feeling the heat in this industry.

    While I have always liked Sun hardware, they are having their lunch eaten on the low end. For example: I just had to replace a server - I went to Frye's and bought a Chineese built Linux PC for $199; after reinstalling my prefered SuSE distro, I have what appears to be a reliable (and very low power use) server - close to free.

    It is difficult to compete with Linux and cheap hardware.

    Sun does make the point that soon there will be more sales of Java enabled cell phones and PDAs than PCs - still, I don't see how they can make much money in that product space.

    -Mark

    - Free Java/AI web book at my web site

    • While I have always liked Sun hardware, they are having their lunch eaten on the low end. For example: I just had to replace a server - I went to Frye's [sic] and bought a Chineese [sic] built Linux PC for $199; after reinstalling my prefered SuSE distro, I have what appears to be a reliable (and very low power use) server - close to free.

      Just remember Mark...you get what you pay for. That Fry's "Great Quality" special will probably last for about 6 months, when something will undoubtedly fail. Maybe it w

  • Priceless... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thrillbert (146343) * on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#6191361) Homepage
    Sun Fire V480
    Four 900-MHz UltraSparc III Cu processors,16 Gbytes RAM, Solaris 8: $46,995

    IBM eServer pSeries 630 Model 6C4
    2 x 2-way 1.2-GHz Power4+ processor, 8 Gbytes RAM, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8: $35,944

    Dell PowerEdge 6650
    Four 1.5-GHz Intel Xeon processors, 16 Gbytes RAM, Red Hat Linux 8 Professional: $24,421


    Seeing the expression on people who claimed Linux was not ready for the enterprise: Priceless.
    Some things money can buy. Piece of mind and a wad in your wallet can only be achieved by cheap hardware and an even cheaper operating system.

    This message brought to you by Open Source. Live free!

    ---
    You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and liberty.
    -- Henrik Ibsen
    • Apple X Serve Dual 1.33 G4 w/Xserve RAID [apple.com]

      Dual 1.33 Ghz RISC G4's 2 GB RAM 720 GB with 2.52TB RAID and UNLIMITED client licenses: $20,000

    • Re:Priceless... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by turgid (580780)
      What crack are you smoking? If you compare a 4-way V480 with 8Gbytes of RAM, it's a bit cheaper than that IBM (and comes with an enterprise class OS too): $34,995.00 [sun.com]
      ...and you'd probably be running Solaris 9 on it nowadays, not Solaris 8.
    • Re:Priceless... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)
      Actually, once IBM spent US$1 billion to port Linux over to their AS/400 and mainframe hardware, the writing was on the wall for Sun: IBM will not take Sun's threat sitting down.

      I personally believe much of Linux's rapid acceptance for large-scale computing needs is due to the very fact IBM big iron hardware can run Linux easily today.

      What galls Sun quite a lot is the fact IBM's own development tools for Java are vastly preferred over Sun's own development tools. I think IBM should just buy out Java from
    • Re:Priceless... (Score:5, Informative)

      by why-is-it (318134) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:09PM (#6192181) Homepage Journal
      Sun Fire V480
      Four 900-MHz UltraSparc III Cu processors,16
      Gbytes RAM, Solaris 8: $46,995

      IBM eServer pSeries 630 Model 6C4
      2 x 2-way 1.2-GHz Power4+ processor, 8 Gbytes RAM,
      SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8: $35,944

      Dell PowerEdge 6650
      Four 1.5-GHz Intel Xeon processors, 16 Gbytes RAM,
      Red Hat Linux 8 Professional: $24,421


      Please do not deceive yourself into thinking that the Dell system has equivalent processing power to the Sun/IBM offering...

      The issue of support is not addressed in this price comparison. My group managed approximately UNIX servers (70% Solaris, 30% AIX) and it is really difficult to get management to take Linux seriously in this environment. Hardware cost is not really an issue, because hardware is a one-time-cost which can be depreciated over a few years. BTW - for the class of server we purchase, Sun hardware is significantly cheaper than equivalent IBM hardware.

      The real concern management has with Linux is support. If there is a hardware or software problem, we can call Sun/IBM 24x7 and they will work on the problem and if necessary call in people with specific expertise to resolve the issue. Those maintenance contracts cost a lot of money, but that is part of the cost of doing business when you have SLAs to maintain. I cannot get that kind of support for Linux. Checking Google for a fix is simply not an alternative.

      The other issue that the article does not consider is that some of the applications we use do not run on Linux, and that really limits the possibilities for Linux in future deployments.
      • Re:Priceless... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Master Bait (115103) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:55PM (#6192765) Homepage Journal
        The real concern management has with Linux is support. If there is a hardware or software problem, we can call Sun/IBM 24x7 and they will work on the problem and if necessary call in people with specific expertise to resolve the issue. Those maintenance contracts cost a lot of money, but that is part of the cost of doing business when you have SLAs to maintain. I cannot get that kind of support for Linux. Checking Google for a fix is simply not an alternative.

        If you are willing to pay IBM for AIX support, why aren't you willing to pay IBM for Linux support?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Linux may be improving but Solaris is too. Sun stock price is rising. Sales are good. New processors are in the pipeline (no pun intended). New people have been hired. The big competition from itanic has failed to materialise. Linux is being sold on cheap PeeCee hardware at competitive prices. Solaris is portable: it runs on many architectures and is available 32- and 64-bit. Most FOSS runs on it (and is provided with the OS). Things are not as bad as you people think.
  • by selderrr (523988) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:54AM (#6191387) Journal
    many medium size corporations are seriously in love with Sun, even if they wouldn't see the difference bewteen solaris and linux when someone would crunch their skull with it.

    Sun still has this magical "it's a sun, so it must be expandable, performant and reliable" thing floating around it. A bit like the Microsoft "it's MS, so it must be cheap, userfriendly and er... cheap" myth.

    My guess is that those myths will stand longer than Moore's law. I call it Selderrr's law :-)
  • Sun made a series of blunders the effects of which are still felt today. Illuminata's Eunice ticks off what he dubs "significant" tech glitches that were revealed once the bubble had burst, including memory problems with Sun's top-selling server that were aggravated by the company's insistence that customers sign a nondisclosure agreement if they wanted a patch.

    Wait a minute, I thought we were talking about Sun, not SCO.
  • by maitas (98290) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:56AM (#6191398) Homepage
    In fact, the V480 has a 3 year warranty, if you add AIX license, 3 year warranty, 8+ GB RAM, the p630 id far more expensive than the V480... it's always easy to cheat... No one runs Linux under Power4, since you loose functionality (dynamic LPARs) compared to AIX.
    The Dell machine is far less powerfull (SPECrate comparison) and doesn't include 3 year warranty.
    Those prices are plain wrong!
    I always wander why Slashdot ops. hate Sun so much and loves IBM... will never get it.
    In fact, Sun's is the single company that has donated more lines code in the world (OpenOffice, JXTA, GridEngine, NetBeans, etc.).
  • News.com has a story about their servers/storage systems being used to retired tape-based broadcast systems.

    News story [com.com]

    Apparently they are going to switch their software to run on Java, giving new meaning to "tape delay"...

  • by kahei (466208) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#6191407) Homepage

    Focusing on beating Microsoft in any way possible might actually *not* be as effective as innovating and creating products people want to use.

    Sun's anti-MS strategy was quite interesting (e.g. it was quite a bit more innovative than just reimplementing the GUI part of windows on top of a big teetering stack of different projects :D ). I think they fell down by being focused on their enemy, so that all their ideas were "We'll sue X! We'll undermine Y! We'll challenge Z!" If they'd been focused on their market and had ideas like "We'll offer service A! We'll invent a cheaper B!" they would still be relevant.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:58AM (#6191419) Homepage

    They are probably the worlds most innovative software company....

    And they don't know it. Or if they do they don't know how to capitalise on it. Cracking products, cracking ideas that are at the very edge, but very little go-to-market.
  • Disclaimer: Please, this really isn't an attempt to start an OS flame war, so don't reply to this with your opinion about which OS is better!

    The article leaves out the "other" main competitor for stability as seen on Netcraft's top uptime sites [netcraft.com] BSD.
  • by alen (225700) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:00PM (#6191436)
    It's servers are too expensive for most tasks. They might be better, but the value for your $$$ is on x86. On the OS side Windows and Linux are kicking Sun's ass. On the hardware side Intel and Dell have created an efficient business model that is increasingly moving up higher and higher in the enterprise.

    Sun needs to figure out a business model that will work in the new economic reality. They will either need to be a software company or a hardware one. But like a lot of companies they will probably die off because they couldn't adapt. They were successful once because they filled a market need, but when the market changed they couldn't adapt fast enough.
  • I thought the article was pretty decent, and hit upon some of Sun's current obsticles that they are facing. The one that in hindsight seems to be the most obvious is the (relatively) rapid acceptance of Linux as a server OS.

    Sun makes nice gear, there's no doubt about that. If you got a rediculous amount of money to drop on some big iron, stuff like the Sunfire 15K is enough to make any true geek drool. For that market, I think Sun actually stands a decent chance of survival...when you're talking about F50

  • by Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:06PM (#6191493)
    ...here's the crux of Sun's problem!...I've never been able to really get Java working with Mozilla on my box. I don't want to rebuild half of my system to do it either!...Why can't I just simply get an RPM that WORKS!....

    Since I built my first Linux box (3 years ago), Java has been a TOTAL hassle in every release. I read little snippets about "licensing" type problems here, lib compatability problems there, etc, all while they are still whining about MS.

    The article is right. They seem preoccupied with MS and this wrongheaded idea that somehow they will right the wrongs in court or through the media...get your products working, make them easy to install and put them EVERYWHERE and the problem will solve itself.

    Yeah, MS thwarted them illegally, keep whining about that and you will be bankrupt like all the others that MS wronged. Now just get over it, pick yourself up and make it as easy for EVERYONE to install JRE and JDK on ANY platform...be damned with the "licensing" bullsh*t. Like any war, you must win "on the ground" in order to be effective. Give MS a little taste of thir own medicine, give your new Java development studio away for cheap. Who cares if you were wronged if nobody can even install your stuff?

    Just my two cents.....

    p.s. I'm still without any Java on my Mozilla 1.0.1 install.....
    • Installing a JRE/JDK and integrating it with Moz are two different things. What do you get when you type 'java' at the command line? Should the install process detect your browsers and install appropriate plugins into them? Sure. Claiming that Java is utterly broken on your RedHat box because it didn't do this is a bit extreme though.

    • Here's the Solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by d3xt3r (527989) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:26PM (#6192397)
      1. Install Java
      2. I assume you're using Mozilla supplied by Red Hat
      3. Login/su root
        # cd /usr/lib/mozilla-1.0.1/plugins/
        # ln -s /path/to/java/home/jre/plugin/i386/ns610/libjavapl ugin_oji.so
      4. Make sure Java support is enabled in Mozilla->Edit->Preferences
      5. Bounce Mozilla
      6. Done, enjoy Java applets :)
    • by babyrat (314371) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:38PM (#6192571)
      ..here's the crux of Sun's problem!.

      Quick! Does anyone have Scott McNealy's number? I need to call him to let him know that all his companies problems will be solved if he simply gets Java working with Mozilla on this guys linux machine.

      He was worried about IBM and Sun and Intel and Microsoft - clearly he should send someone over to install the JRE on Redhat 8.

      100 million java enabled cell phones...installation on a browser/OS combo that no-one* uses...hmmm...where to spend your time?


      *okay - high percentage of users reading this (myself included), but low percentage of Sun's target market (embedded devices and enterprise applications)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:06PM (#6191502)
    We have got Suns and Linux machines in the datacenter.

    Where is really matters (big database engines, 4+ CPUs, a lot of external storage) Linux/Intel is just not capable of the task. Sun plainly does not have much competition there. At least not from Linux. HP-UX, AIX -- may be (though not here).

    What are these whacky analysts talking about? What Linux? 8-CPU, 64bit, fibre storage attached and Linux? Have you ever tried it? I have, I know what a pain it is. It DOES NOT FLY. Period.

    What REALLY hurts Sun is Windows on the low end. Not the hardware, not the price, but all these litty-bitty apps, that do not work anywhere but on Windows. Espetially Web apps. All these moronic developers with only Windows experience and mantra "does not work -- reboot it!", "open MS-DOS command prompt window and type c:".

    There is Sun's biggest problem. They are lacking in the software, not the hardware.

  • Where Sun Excells (Score:5, Informative)

    by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:07PM (#6191512)
    The main thing sun has going for themselves over anyone supplying linux and white box hardware, is stability, scallability, support and availability.

    With a Sun package (hardware and software) you have the ability to upgrade both system software components, and hardware (including memory and cpu's) without downing the machine, and in many cases without even rebooting the machine. Whatever it is serving, is always available, even after upgrades (granted, we are talking their high end machines, but for... say financial institutions, downtime is a no no, even a few min can cost ungodly amounts of money). Kernel updates, and software updates can also be made (not in all cases) without even rebooting the system.

    There are no linux, or even bsd boxes that can do that to my knowledge, and certainly no windows systems.

    The reason Apple and Sun hardware/software combinations are superiour in stability, is due to the fact that they are made to support each other, unlike in a windows enviroment, where you have a mix and match of hardware, and software drivers that bring in many inknowns sometimes.
    • Re:Where Sun Excells (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cyno (85911)
      even a few min can cost ungodly amounts of money

      I hate it when people say stuff like that. It makes me think of all the money the RIAA lost last year due to piracy. I think we'd all be better off not knowing how a 48x CDRW or a 400 Mhz processor can cost us ten times the profits.

      Sun has one thing going for them, reputation.
    • by Otis_INF (130595)

      The reason Apple and Sun hardware/software combinations are superiour in stability, is due to the fact that they are made to support each other, unlike in a windows enviroment, where you have a mix and match of hardware, and software drivers that bring in many inknowns sometimes.
      ... which also counts for Linux. You are saying that Linux is unstable too?

      Also, it's nice that Sun has very high end servers that keep running when you have to change cpu's or memory, but everybody knows that Sun can't exist by
    • Re:Where Sun Excells (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bagheera (71311) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:02PM (#6192100) Homepage Journal
      Overall I think you're right here. Solaris is hard to beat in a server environment. Having worked extensively in a mixed *NIX (Solaris, HP-UX, Linux, *BSD, a bit of OS/X) I'd give the higher end Sun machines the edge without hesitation for servers. Higher end being E450 and above, including the SunFires. (Not counting the SunBlade and small V series pizza boxen)

      For pure workstations though, Solaris loses the edge to the higher flexibility (and lower cost) of the Linux boxen. There's simply more 'stuff' available for Linux at this point. To my observation, *BSD falls in the middle. Not quite as good as Solaris as a server, but better than Linux. Not quite as good on the desktop as Linux, but better than Solaris.

      As for the hardware, you're dead on. It's hard to beat the Customer Relation you get with Sun. Sure, Dell has good warranty service, but the Sun guys are a tough act to follow. We won't even try and compare the high end gear. You simply can't. There's nothing in the Lintel space that can compare with one of the big Sun machines.

      However, you're a little off on the kernel update issue. The n_Recommended patch clusters from Sun always require a reboot - and they are by far the easiest way to patch the Sun boxen, taking care of all dependencies automatically. Yes, you can apply a lot of patches individually without a reboot, but the same applies to *BSD and Linux. Also, in some instances, it's possible to rebuild kernel modules without requiring a reboot under Linux.

  • Reminds me of DEC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mistah Blue (519779) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:11PM (#6191539)

    Sun reminds me of DEC. DEC had great hardware, impeccable service and Ultrix rocked. However, they couldn't market. Look where it got them.

    I see the same thing with Sun. They are too busy trying to be Microsoft, stabbing their partners in the back, and I've seen service that is not of the usual high caliber.

    I predict they will be gone in 5 years (bought by someone else, or just plain out of business).

  • by adzoox (615327) * on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:11PM (#6191544) Journal
    I've always thought that an Apple / Sun merger would be a good idea. McNealy and Jobs are friends. Apple could use the Sun "know how to build a quality server" and integrate that into the XServe [apple.com].

    Apple would also gain Java as an Apple supported program and language. It would help better, faster Java come to Linux and OSX. Java could be more tightly integrated into Quicktime and thus into mobile phones [com.com] where Apple is implementing it's latest builds of Quicktime.

    • that would probably kill 2 birds with one stone. Look at how the Compaq/HP and AOL/TW mergers went. pretty crappy.
    • Apple would also gain Java as an Apple supported program and language. It would help better, faster Java come to Linux and OSX.

      How did you figure that one out? The Java implementation on Linux is pretty good, the main problem being that they insist you get it from their website and use their installer, which is a pain in the ass. That, and it's not free software so companies like Red Hat won't distribute it. But simply allowing people to package it would sort that out.

      The problems they have on Linux ar

  • by Necroman (61604) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:16PM (#6191587)
    And that is moving I/Os. I'm a programmer for a company that makes large scale storage arrays, and Solaris can beat most any other operating system (no matter what hardward) at moving just a bulk ammount of I/Os. We support Linux, AIX, Windows, Solaris, and many others, and Solaris is always a top performer on our tests.

    Beyond that, I'm not sure what Sun machine's are good for.
  • by Fjord (99230) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:20PM (#6191607) Homepage Journal
    when you're the dot in "dot com". Dot coms crash, you crash.
  • by n3rd (111397) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:22PM (#6191635)
    http://www.sun.com/smi/Press/sunflash/2003-06/sunf lash.20030605.1.html

    :rolleyes:
  • Sun == Netscape (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tony1c (610261) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:25PM (#6191661) Journal
    Microsoft is basically using the same strategy with Sun that worked so well against Netscape. Basically they let Sun do a lot of the groundwork and innovating with Java/J2EE, etc. Then MS basically reimplemented it as C#/.NET with a few improvements (ostensibly after learning from Sun's mistakes), and now MS can throw more resources at their version than Sun can ever hope to. As a Java/J2EE and C#/.NET developer I find them very similar, but I just see Microsoft's solution improving at a faster pace than Sun's. From an idealistic standpoint I don't like it, but it's also hard to turn away from better technology. I know Sun isn't all Java, but alot of their solutions incorporate it, and in the late 90s it gave them a real progressive presence that made them a major player in the whole Internet Boom. These days I'm back to thinking of Sun as those guys who make Solaris and those workstations and servers that are kinda slow but still pretty cool.
  • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:26PM (#6191675)
    back when they primarily made workstations. They really know how much damage the low end can do to the high end. Yet they also know that these days they are going ever further up into the high end. This is primarily due to Wintel, so Sun had every reason to be scared of Microsoft. Without Wintel, we might find USD1000 64-bit workstations to be fairly decent value for the money.

    Sun had a brief respite from the workstation battle due to the enormous server market during the boom. Then the boom faded and Lintel hit hard. Sun is forced to go where Linux cannot, up into the ultra high end with 5 9's and 128 CPU's per box. Perhaps they can survive there, perhaps not. There is at least one other company with large cash reserves but none of its original market left out there: SGI. They are trying to take Linux into just the space where Sun thought it would be safe.

    Perhaps Sun can find a place for itself. Perhaps SGI can as well. The question is whether they stay around in anything but name and logo - and in SGI's case not even that.

  • In other news... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by illumin8 (148082) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:34PM (#6191747) Journal
    And, in other news...

    Microsoft has agreed to play fair...

    Apple is dying!!!

    SCO now owns the Linux kernel...

    and Sun is dying!!!

    In all seriousness, any company with 5.5 billion in the bank that is not bleeding money will not be dying any time soon.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled program.
    • by geomon (78680)
      From this [scripophily.net] webpage:

      "Prior to its acquisition by #1 PC maker Compaq in 1998, the company was a top supplier of networked computer systems and components, software, and services. Digital developed the speedy 64-bit Alpha microprocessor; Alpha-based products included workstations and servers. Digital also sold UNIX-based computers, network components (such as adapters and hubs), PCs, and peripherals. Digital (formerly known as DEC) also offered services such as network design and support, systems integration,
  • sun problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geoff lane (93738) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:35PM (#6191767)
    SUN has two problems they must sort out.

    1. Java - there are too many releases and java applications seem to be too tightly tied to specific point releases. This causes huge support problems.

    2. SUN supplied h/w to many of the dot.com companies. When they went bust a LOT of 2nd hand hardware appeared on the market. It's difficult to compete with your own h/w at 2nd hand prices.

    (Does anybody else find that typing in the form for SlashDot submissions causes Mozilla/Redhat8 to bounce the form around the window for no apparent reason?)
  • by tenchiken (22661) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:50PM (#6191953)
    Where is the "Eat your own dogfood" principle. Sun has put far too much energy into Java, and not nearly enough into staying competitive with Windows and Linux at a server level. Compare Microsoft who is porting all of their userland into managed mode with Sun who has not released any core component of Solaris in Java.

    When Sun ships rm6 in Java and it works well, then maybe I will look at their technology with something other then a short critical glance.
  • Same old stuff. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pmz (462998) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:07PM (#6192161) Homepage
    Sun is still selling compelling products, but they have always lagged in marketing skills, it seems. Isn't this the reputation they have always had?

    For example, the V210/240 is comparable to a dual-CPU 2GHZ Xeon server--but it also comes with FOUR gigabit Ethernet interfaces and U320 SCSI. It would be a clustering monster (think Oracle RAC). Also, only the newer Opteron servers can compare feature-for-feature (me thinks Sun would do well selling Opterons).

    The Sun ONE marketing is a bit confusing, at first, but is basically amounts to all the non-operating system software Sun sells. They are also looking to pull an interesting stunt by delivering all software to a customer and unlocking what the customer buys. This is very similar to how high-end CAD/CAM software sells, and it generally works well.

    I think Sun is doing a lot of good stuff. I just hope they weather the economy and keep putting the pressure on Microsoft, IBM, and HP. Sun, whether you like them or not, is an important part of keeping the IT industry in check.
  • by sad_ (7868) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:19PM (#6192301) Homepage
    At the end of the article McNealy says the following about linux:

    "Yet when talk turns to Linux, it's as if McNealy can't help himself: He knows he should be courting the world's Linux devotees, but instead he pokes fun at them. He points out that Red Hat, the leading purveyor of Linux systems, announced revenue of $24 million for its last quarter of 2002. I don't know where this multibillion-dollar Linux business is."

    however, earlier in the article, when discussing SUNs past we get to read this:

    "Back in the mid-1980s, when Sun was still a startup, it had neither reputation nor intellectual property, and it faced a murderer's row of competitors. One quarter it even needed to borrow $50 million to make payroll."

    yeah well, i suppose a lot of people were laughing at sun at that time too figuring out where 'the money' was. I can't believe how ignorent SUN is towards Linux.
  • by TrollBridge (550878) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:19PM (#6192308) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps Slashdot should learn from Sun's mistakes.
  • Sun vs Intel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nbahi15 (163501) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:36PM (#6192549) Homepage
    I would automatically question any comparison between Sun and any Intel based platform. However even Sun recognizes the future looks to be Linux on Intel.

    We recently performed an internal cost/benefit analysis of Sun vs. Linux on Intel. Our study showed that while Intel platforms are very competetive, they fall behind on supportability. Intel machines require VGA port, BIOS, and keyboard/mouse ports. To provide remote OOB management you end up spending a fortune in cards and/or console managers, that Sun has built-in to their low end equipmnt. By low end I'm talking about a 1U $995 machine.

    In fact we recently had a conference call with Sun about their Linux boxes... I told them that if they wanted us to buy Sun Intel Linux machines they would need to dispense with the VGA port and provide the same Light Out Management console port that their Sparc machines have. Which effectively means they need to build an OpenFirmware/OpenBoot machine with a RJ45 console port. Sun's rep stated that they are working on incorporating those technologies into the Intel platform.

    So I think if Sun can deliver such a machine, in the sub $1000 category they will end up as the trendsetter for Intel based Linux boxes.
  • Deja Vu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geomon (78680) on Friday June 13, 2003 @02:00PM (#6192818) Homepage Journal
    Forget the stock price and flagging sales, [McNealy] argues, and focus on Sun's record of innovation.

    Ask DEC how far that got them.

    If this is the tack Sun's management is going to take in responding to criticism, then it may be "Goodbye Sun. Glad we knew ya....."

  • Sun's marketshare. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Friday June 13, 2003 @03:16PM (#6193708)
    In 2002, everyone lost sales, except for Dell's dekstops. Sun lost fewer sales than IBM and HP and everyone else in the industry, so it picked up marketshare, a critical yardstick of competitive performance in down markets. So, while Sun is fuxxored, it is less fuxxored than IBM, HP, SGI, Unisys, etc.

    The piece was a hatchetjob that displayed very little deep understanding of the IT market.

    SoupIsGood Food
  • by m11533 (263900) on Friday June 13, 2003 @03:18PM (#6193733)
    I find this discussion and article interesting as Sun has never been the high performance leader, even in their own machine class. When it comes to RISC, Sun's SPARC line and decendents has always been slower than the competition. DEC's alpha, IBM's PowerPC, HP's PA-RISC all were always ahead.

    What Sun provided was a platform on which more software was available sooner than any other platform. Then, it became more software than any other platform except Microsoft. I am sure this is the origin of the pre-occupation with Microsoft. Yet, while Sun was regularly able to pummel its better performing competitors with its wider and earlier software availability, it just can not rival Microsoft in the breadth and timing of software available. Note that I am not refering just to the software produced by the system manufacturers. In fact, if that were the sole measure, then HP and IBM would have given Sun a much greater challenge. Sun's key to success was getting ISVs to use their platform as their native development platform, ensuring it was the first platform everyone released on. All the others were ports, and thus were released months later. This was a huge edge for Sun that was terribly difficult for competitors to remedy. Simply building faster, "better" hardware would not lure ISVs to shift their development platform to another hardware vendor's product.

    But, Micrsoft is far ahead of Sun in exactly those things that allowed Sun to beat its competition. I don't see Sun ever being able to succeed using that strategy, and they sure don't seem to be interested in any other. Though, with the other RISC platforms dropping like flies, being replaced by Itanium with all of its performance and acceptance problems, and sudden Sun's hardware looks like it may become king of that hill. Of course, no one is paying for that class of hardware any longer... if they do, they now go buy IBM's tREX and run piles of virtual Linux machines on it.

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