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Sun Microsystems

Sun Introduces Subscription Solaris 144

cyberlync writes "Sun is planning to implement a pricing policy similar to Microsoft's recent subscription pricing plan. Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's executive vice president of software, said that they are calling this project Orion. It looks like another attempt to grab more cash in this nasty economy to me. Schwartz said that they are going to try a similar senario with linux soon as well. On a side note, it mentions some interesting things about a new desktop distro of linux."
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Sun Introduces Subscription Solaris

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  • by brejc8 ( 223089 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:32AM (#5385688) Homepage Journal
    Sun implementing Microsoft ideas?
    Orion -> Onion?
    • yes sun might just do what redhat are doing

      subscriptions for automatic updates and security patchs
      well never

      best of luck to them if it funds solaris all credit to them


      John Jones
      • IIRC, Redhat charges for "Priority" updates. Alot of the time when I run up2date, if I'm not ahead of the crowd, or a week behind, I get a message saying that the server is busy. Paying $60/month/machine gives you "priority" access to these, meaning you never have to wait if the network is busy. Plus they offer a nice web based control panel that lets you update all your machines from one page. Quite nifty. Unfortunately my boss doesn't want to spend the money to do it. Maybe I'll tell him that we need to move to solaris. :-d
    • It's probably cheaper this way. If you don't like it then you'll still have the option of buying your software ala carte like you do now. This isn't really that big of a deal. Some companies (especially the federal government) LOVE having a nice flat yearly payment to make. We have tons of maintenance contracts on a yearly basis that are basically the same idea. You pay the maintenance contract, you always get the newest software. *shrug* Sure, it sucks if you're used to free GPL'd Linux products, but if you're used to buying thousands of dollars in software a year it will probably save you lots of money.
  • by nehril ( 115874 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:32AM (#5385689)
    It looks like another attempt to grab more cash in this nasty economy to me.

    I hate it when companies try to make money. Employees, electricity and phone service should all be GPL. they could maybe get office furniture off of kazaa.

    damn economy.
    • Oh great, like we need a Furniture Industry Association of America.
    • Re:like, totally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:41AM (#5385713) Homepage
      No one is arguing that Sun should provide free software. The complaint is that Sun is raising its prices without adding any new value.
      • You mean like the way that gas stations and supermarkets do?

      • What are they charging, and what's included in the package? They're offering upgrades and "all of Sun's software" as part of this package, but I haven't seen details of what that means, nor any pricing, so it's a little difficult to judge whether they really are raising their prices, or adding new value.

        As long as it's still possible to just buy the pieces I want when I want, I don't care. If this becomes the only way to buy their stuff I will care.
      • No one is arguing that Sun should provide free software.

        Uh actually, there are a lot of people out there who believe that the concept of companies making money is bad and everything should be free. Wouldn't be surprised

        (But I'm not one of them. :))
      • Re:like, totally (Score:2, Insightful)

        by oldmanmtn ( 33675 )
        The complaint is that Sun is raising its prices without adding any new value.

        Which is complete nonsense. "Orion" isn't just Solaris. It's Solaris with an added directory server, portal server, identity server, web server , app server, calendar server, cluster management , and god knows what else.

        Sheesh, I can't believe the stuff that gets modded up sometimes.

      • Re:like, totally (Score:3, Insightful)


        Solaris is going to stay at the same price. At least according to the NYTimes article about it.

        What sun is doing is charging for sun one and putting everything together on a central cd where the user can check what he/she wants.

        This is what Microsoft plans to do. You get one central cd with only Microsoft products and you check what you would like and then a price tag would pop out and from there your solution is done. I think they are waiting for drm and pallidium to make sure this solution is cracker proof before providing it.

        You could have a stand alone Windows2k3 server install or you can have it with office,, sql server and exchange server for hell of alot more. Its a great way of stomping their competition. Just like puting IE with Windows, corporate customers will be less reluctant to call oracle, have a salesman come, sign a license, play around with the cd, for an evaluation before purchasing. Or they can just point and click on the default MS cd and select SQL Server. Done! The easiest way is a no brainer.

        Sun wants this as well because according to the NYtimes version of the story because their bussiness model is too reliant on sales of hardware. IBM was insulating from the spending crunch of the .com bubble because they make the majority of their money from services and consulting. Sun is waiting for faster sparcs and had delays for years with the sparcIV and the sparcIII. Their machines as a result are too expensive and slow compared to wintel's from Dell. More scalable and reliable yes, but bussinesses do not have the money anymore to afford this and consider it a luxury. Linux is also killing because pc server is good enough for most situations. An expensive Unix box is no longer needed for a webserver. Just a Dell with Linux or FreeBSD. If Sun can't provide better hardware then they need revenue from software. Microsoft is coming out with great development tools for the cheaper wintel server so they need to turn up the heat to remain competitive. They are comming out with Linux/Solaris based intel servers and they are going to announce a lintel workstation line this fall. But again they need to convince customers on why a sun box is better then a lintel box and Sun One is the answer.

        Apple is already trying this with .mac for a variety of services. Remember that software is a service and vendors charge for the services and support. If you do not like it you can always write your own or download a free one from sourceforge.

      • i guess not everyone made it to the last paragraph of the article, so i'll share:

        Sun also will continue to offer its
        traditional per-CPU pricing model for its
        Sun ONE stack and Solaris, Schwartz said.

        it sounds to me like the subscription program is going to be an option, like a sun support contract. it's my experience that serious sun shops (like telcos and intrenched blue-chippers) pay for sun support contracts anyway, so this would likely be a big convenience for them in managing licenses. if i read that last paragraph correctly, the little guys with a handful of servers will have the same options before about deciding to run solaris 2.5.1 until the server bursts into flames from excessive dust collection, or doing per-instance upgrades.

        i see this as added value.
  • news for linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ace Rimmer ( 179561 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:34AM (#5385700)
    1) subscription for linux copies from sub
    2) ...
    3) profit!

    Okay, so Sun will have profit. Will they put more effort into Linux or will they try to increase profit by minimizing costs (volunteers are so cheap...)?
    • This does, of course, have a certain similarity to the strategy of companies like RedHat, and to a great degree it is also IBM's strategy. All of them coult be summarized as "Give the software away for free, and make money on support and consulting."

      There is just one really important difference: With Microsoft, if you stop paying the subscription fee, you lose all your rights to use the software. With RedHat, you retain the right to use all the software (and download more whenever you want); you just don't get their support when you have problems.

      And with RedHat, you don't have to worry about them suing you if you run their software without their permission on your own machine.

      It's interesting that, although IBM has historically been the heavy in the computing field, they don't seem to have caught onto the strategy of threatening customers who terminate a contract but continue to use the software. Maybe this is why they aren't feared as widely as Microsoft is getting to be. They figured out decades ago that there's a lot of money to be made in being friendly and supporting.

      But still, if I were in charge of corporate strategy, I'd be wary of both Microsoft and IBM, and if Sun is going that route, I'd ask them some very direct questions about liability. And I'd be talking to several of the linux vendors on the side, with the thought of getting out of the danger of being sued for using my own machines.

    • Well, I guess since it appears suing Microsoft wasnt as lucrative as Sun's lawyers had imagined, and even their own people dont want to use Java, they need to make cash somehow.

      Hey, computer executives need mansions and yatchs too.

  • the difference (Score:5, Informative)

    by larien ( 5608 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:40AM (#5385711) Homepage Journal
    The difference between Sun & Microsoft is that MS basically strong-armed people into migrating. From the article, Sun will continue to offer the existing licenses as is, based on the number of CPUs.

    For some people this will be a good option and everyone looking at Solaris/SunONE licensing should have a looksee and work out which option is better for them.

    • no difference (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:09AM (#5385806)
      You can buy non-subscription from Microsoft too. It just costs more. I'm sure the same is true of Sun.
      • Re:no difference (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Solaris is free on boxes without many CPU's and you get a binary license for it if you buy your hardware from SUN so I fail to see how this could be more expensive than the quarterly program. The orion option is for people who use a lot of Sun ONE software. But of course as with everything, the slashdot crowd overreacts and thinks it is the end of the world. What do you care anyway you are going to be running linux right???
        • Re:no difference (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @11:53AM (#5386843) Journal
          Exactly. The subscription is only needed if you want to run major chunks of the Sun ONE server stack. If you want the traditional Solaris pricing (ie, bundled with 1 CPU, single license fee for multiple CPUs), it's not going away.

          This change is not forced upon anyone, it just adds another option.

          Also note that they are planning a Linux version of project Orion, showing a lot more support for Sun ONE on Linux than has existed in the past.
    • Last I checked, Sun's licensing model was such that any Sun brand SPARC based system was already licensed for Solaris. That was true for (2.)7 and (2.)8. There is an enterprise version as well that had a few extra bells and whistles that you had to pay for, but at heart it was still the same Solaris base. It just had some extra trimmings that could be installed from the same media set.

      So... how does changing from a cpu based (free for all Sun SPARC systems) model to a subscription model generate more revenue? If the product is already essentially free, why would you want to start paying for it?

      Keep in mind that I'm not up to snuff on Solaris 9's licensing (though as a Sun Cert'ed Network Admin I probably should fix that ;P)

      ah well, don't mind me, just burning karma
    • by joelparker ( 586428 ) <> on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @10:40AM (#5386276) Homepage
      The Sun software executive admitted that he's "a bit of a cynic when it comes to metered billing

      Cynic? Maybe he's never managed a data center...

      What the article doesn't describe is that Orion is a *huge* improvement for some managers of data centers. Knowing your monthly rental prices ahead of time makes budgeting much easier, which is a very big deal in some companies.

      It also emphasizes Sun's broad idea of services as a utility. Ideally a CIO/CTO can pay a monthly fee and get everything: rental software, scalable hardware, technical support for anything that comes up, and consulting services on retainer.

      Disclaimer: I worked for Sun and strongly advocated this kind of metered billing. I worked for a big data center before Sun, and saw firsthand that for my CTO budgets I needed monthly predictability more than I needed low prices.

      Cheers, Joel

      • Knowing your monthly rental prices ahead of time makes budgeting much easier, which is a very big deal in some companies.

        This is true in a lot of ways. Even running a small webhosting company, I prefer everything to be a constant. If I know I'm going to need to upgrade my Ultrasparc, or buy another Cisco, I can budget. I can know beforehand exactly what I'm going to spend that month, to the penny, and budget accordingly, which is incredibly handy. My stepfather, a man who's never done anything but labour work all his life, keeps track of his and my mother's finances so accurately that he can tell you what his bank statement is going to be three weeks before it arrives, and he's only been wrong once that I know of (found the reciept a few days later, mom bought me a drink and forgot to mention it, and then he was dead on).

        My parents aren't rich, but they know exactly how much they have, and exactly how much they don't have. I've learned from this, and that total lack of uncertainty is the most reassuring thing in the kind of markets we find ourselves in now.

  • by dark-br ( 473115 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:41AM (#5385714) Homepage
    In a lot of ways, Sun is the MS of the commercial UNIX world, but they have an impressive record of making contributions to the community. the most notable contribution was probably NFS, and Sun gave it away long before most of us had ever heard of the GPL. Solaris has lots of goodies in it, obviously including great NFS support, but also pleasant standardisation and maturity, which Linux still somewhat lacks. Solaris is also rock solid. Sure, Linux can have multi-year uptimes, but it doesn't really compare to Solaris. When you want to run a giant website with 100's of CPU's, you turn to Solaris, and you don't even care that you get raped on the price of the hardware.

    I imagine that Sun is doing this because they know they won't make any money pushing beige box PC's. (SGI sure didn't.) By just selling the OS, they may not sell a ton of copies, but the profit margins on software are pretty sweet, if you can pay off the cost of development.
    • But SGI's screw up was attempting to conform to the Borg when they tried to move to Windoz NinTendo. Their entire base of expertize was in Unix (IRIX), so it wasn't a real bright move on their part (geez...let's retrain all of our engineers...DUH!). And, by the time they realized it, it was too late
    • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:19AM (#5385838) Homepage
      IMO you need a clue bat application.

      1. As far as I know, Sun tried to license NFS. Failed. For various reasons. Do not try to pull that "give to the community crap" at least as far as NFS is concerned.

      2. Solaris (not SunOS) NFS support until 2.6 was crap. Many patchlevels even as late as 2.5.1 had quite a few data corruptions bugs. As a result most old non-academic installations actually used NetAppliance when they needed NFS.

      3. I had to be a design authotity on something like 100+ Netra T1s with Solaris running the most elementary services like DNS, news, mail, etc. None of them running more then one service so they were not even loaded. And frankly I have not seen so many hardware failures and memory leaks in the core OS anytime before and anytime after. Basically white boxes from a bandit corner shop have lower failure rate and most linux kernels in the 2.3.x and 2.5.x series were more reliable.

      4. If you have created a website that needs one 100+ CPUs box instead of having the load spread across several redundant systems you should be fired on the spot. Frankly, have you ever heard of single point of failure? Actually, have you heard of dot.bomb? There were some sites like "The Street" which tried this technological model. All of them failed and dragged several decent ISPs which decided to cater for this model with them.
      • 1) Sun sponsored a free implementation of NFSv4 for linux.

        2) Solaris' NFS was perfectly usable for us in 2.4, probably earlier.

        3) Sounds to me like you were doing something wrong. Our suns have been highly reliable.

        4) If you think that, you don't have much design experience. Some things need to be on the same box, unless you go with something like GFS on RAID, which isn't exactly inexpensive.

      • >> Solaris (not SunOS) NFS support until 2.6 was crap.
        Solaris is SunOS + Environment.

        "I had to be a design authotity on something like 100+ Netra T1s with Solaris running the most elementary services like DNS, news, mail, etc. And frankly I have not seen so many hardware failures and memory leaks in the core OS anytime before and anytime after."

        Really do you have bug IDs for those memory leaks. How many of those hundred units did fail and what components. Every manufacturer has a failure rate, did the hard disks fail? CPU? memory?

        "Basically white boxes from a bandit corner shop have lower failure rate and most linux kernels in the 2.3.x and 2.5.x series were more reliable."

        I doubt that, parts OEMs like Sun and other companies usually use are of a higher quality than the ones you can buy as a consumer. This info comes from my dealing with my dealings with seagate and other drive vendors.

        Your post looks like it is biased towards linux. Solaris has a industry wide acceptance of being stable.

        Our school switched to dell running linux from HP/HP-UX. Our mail server which used to run for hundreds of days at a time hardly stays up for a few days anymore. Our DHCP/DNS server running on an ultra1/Solaris 2.6 has been running with many year uptimes.

        Heck even Aceshardware is running the entire website on one SunBlade-100. Linux has its strong points and weak points just like another OS does.
      • 1. Sun made the nfs protocol available from the getgo 2. I've been working with solaris since it's inception, it's been stable since 2.4, and I've seen _HUNDREDS_ of implementations in commercial sites, with no serious issues (i.e., data corruption). NetAppliance - what the f*ck? they only made a name for themselves in the last couple of years, and the biggest market is the m$ world. 3. reallly? got bug reports on that, or do you simply not understand how to install/maintain a UNIX system - you sound like a troll or and idiot - pick one. 4. Okay, this one I'll agree with you on, (most) websites don't require this type of processing capacity - but how about that backend RDMS ? Or a simulation engine ? I deployed / maintained a number of Sun systems with 32 + CPUs - how many systems that size are running Linux, in the real world ? IMO, you need to get a really *big* clue.
      • 1.- Show your evidence for 1 if you can.

        2.- That is a vulgar lie. I have used NFS in many different industries (banking, oil, goverment, geography, geophisics, research, graphic design) under many different conditions (from a couple of worwstations in one network up to several thousends machines accessing a few central servers) and it has always been a reliable tool. Since SunOS 4.x by the way. As with any piece of software you'll find the ocassional bug, but not at the scale that you pretend it was,

        3.-Hardware failures: you are liying, plain and simple. Right now I am directly responsible for around 70 machines and we see hardware errors around once a month (normally with machines that we are re-using and thus are handled with less care than normally). New machines? Can't remember one incident in the last 4 years.
        If your budget is so limited that you have to cram services in the same machine then yes, you should be using cheaper machines. What a joy will be to se your do-it-all servers have a problem and see al you services colapse at the same time just because you are macho enough to keep that CPU usage at 100% utilization (which begs the question, if you are such a fan of avoiding single points of failure, how do you justify to have several vital services in the same box?).

        4.- You are completely incompetent. There are no abolutes here, the ease of administration could be a major concern compared to the risk of your box being lost, administering several redundant systems increase administration complexity, no matter how competent your people are. In any case if you have the money and the need to have such a machine I assure you that then you have contingency mechanisms to make sure you can continue working if you lose your machine (normaly replication to an off-site facility).
    • > ... Solaris ... and maturity, which Linux still somewhat lacks.
      > Solaris is also rock solid. Sure, Linux can have multi-year uptimes, ...

      Ha! I crashed the kernel! Solaris 8 running on a SunBlade 100. Used "link" to make a hardlinked directory. (admittedly foolish. yes as root.) THen, I, dunno, tried to rename it or something. Freeze. bink. reboot.

      OK so I've crashed the Linux kernel a few times too. don't ask me about the disk formatting disasters.
  • ...I suppose, that what worked (it worked, you know) for a monopoly, should work too for a medium-sized player in one of the most competitive environments ever.

    No doubt they have got many customers with sizeable investments developed on Sun technology, and I suppose Sun wouldn't make such hard terms as Microsoft did, but nevertheless, you can only price your way when it's a sellers market, or a really captive one. If not, your are dead meat. None of those situations currently apply. Just think it again, Sun.

  • ...Sun won't be around much longer.

    We're moving our servers to Linux as it is, so a move like this is hardly going to make us think twice about it.

    • Really? So then, you guys are Sun's last customers? I could've sworn that they had more than one. Or is it that you're such a large customer, that by losing your company Sun will be forced to fold? Enquiring minds want to know!
      • Jeezuz some of you take things literally. If my company (normally heavily anti-OSS and pro-proprietary software) is doing it, and lots of other companies I know are doing it, then it stands to reason that a lot of other people are thinking in the same sense.

        I stand by my opinion that this is a bad move on Sun's part. People don't like subscription licensing, and their customer base is going to drop as a result.

        I like Sun's hardware and software, but as an experienced sysadmin, I'd be stupid to argue that you don't get better bang-for-buck using Linux/x86 for many applications.

  • Don't like it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:46AM (#5385726)
    I don't like this move to subscription that has become popular. Macromedia also is trying to do it.

    It's great for the provider - over time it makes you a lot more money, and you get a more regular cash flow. And it eases the pressure to come up with major releases. You can just make minor improvements regularly to justify the charge. Fixing bugs and security holes should not be considered a service - it is repairing a faulty product.

    So as a provider, it's great. But as a customer, it's not so good - stuff basically ends up being more expensive, and you get locked in to one provider.

    I think it is a development that needs to be resisted. Profit margins are far too high on a lot of software anyway. This kind of move just makes OSS solutions even more attractive.
    • Metered Billing? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sheriff Fatman ( 602092 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:17AM (#5385832) Homepage

      There's another side to this whole subscription issue - or 'metered billing' as it's referred to in the article. The industry is trying to steer us towards a subscription rather than purchasing model - i.e. you pay for Windows by the year, rather than buying it outright. In the case of operating systems and server apps, this equates to more revenue for the vendor and a more stable long-term business model - but what about desktop applications?

      I'm primarily an ASP/.NET coder, but I do the odd bit of content creation - mainly images and animations for web sites. I run my core apps (OS, email, browsers, text editors) every day. About once a week, I'll fire up Corel Photopaint for an afternoon or so to make up some buttons or something. I use Microsoft Access for two days every quarter, to perform updates to a clients' database.

      This means over the course of a year, I use Photopaint for about two hundred hours and Access for eight days. Yet I (or rather my employer) has paid the same price for these applications as someone who uses them all day, every day. There are applications - Photoshop springs to mind - which I don't use at all, because they wouldn't get used frequently enough to justify the cost of the licenses. But if we could pay for these apps on a per-usage or daily basis - actual 'metered billing', the same as water or electricity or bandwidth - they'd become cost-effective. Not to mention the vast number of people who just pirate applications 'cos they only use them occasionally and they're not prepared to pay for it.

      Ok, this is highly unlikely because it means less money for the software companies, and if open software continues to improve as it has in the last few years, it'll be redundant before long anyway. But it would make an interesting angle for companies trying to convince their users of the merits of the subscription model.

      • Metered billing is one of the proposals M$ put forth at one of their seminars a couple years back. It met with lots of scowls from the audience (most IT types).

        The problem is, they're not interested in metered billing for apps you use once in a blue moon (that revenue wouldn't be worth the cost to track and bill it). They're interested in metered billing for apps used in your everyday business.

      • Photopaint for 200 hours.
        Access for 8 days. 8 days * 24 hour/day = 192 hours.
    • by hoegh ( 306704 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:46AM (#5385949)
      It is true that subscription can be a blessing for a provider. But it can also turn into a curse for both provider and customer.

      I once (ca. 10 year ago) worked for a firm that sold a program for a yearly subscription (you didn't own the program - you leased the right to use it). It removed the focus of the management from the product to a degree were it almost wasn't supported anymore. There wasn't any pressure from dismissing sales as we lived almost on subscribtion alone.

      But once a year a month or so before next year subscription was due I was told quickly to prepare a new release with the sole purpose of giving the impression that our customers did get something for their subscription. Management didn't care what it contained as long as I didn't take to long.

      AFAIK most of our customers didn't use the upgrade because it didn't really add anything worthwhile anyway.

    • "Fixing bugs and security holes should not be considered a service - it is repairing a faulty product."

      Hey that is the one sentance that best explains why I left the microsoft camp many years ago. The fact that this seems to become even a wider spread practice in this day and age is interesting to me.
  • by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:51AM (#5385736) Homepage Journal
    It seems software amd hardware companies are nostalgic for the good ole days when a server or desktop had a service life of about 1.5 to 2 years due to obsolence which was in effect similar to a subscription.

    Now the pace of change has slowed down and so has need to buy new systems. Companies like MS and Sun are trying maintain and expand revenue without offering any compelling reason to upgrade. So they are now "innovating" with pricing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:54AM (#5385746)
    Remember, they are a company responsible to shareholders. Sun is tanking, the economy is tanking - what is Sun supposed to do? This shouldn't be a blame game but a step back to evaluate what Sun is doing and why they are doing it (to post a profit not a loss for starters).
    • Exactly. Microsoft could sell everything at half price and still make a solid profit.

      If someone can wield Linux properly, it will potentially wipe out Microsoft desktops from the enterprise. In the enterprise, they care about TCO and productivity. The lack of fundamental productivity gains (to my knowledge) in new versions of Microsoft applications tells us that the problem domain is probably "solved", or at leas t that Microsoft has stopped innovating. Now, someone just need to produce something interoperable at a lower price.

      In the homes, we will need a different strategies. I'm thinking fixed fee remote administration will be the killer app in the homes. The "technologically disadvantages" constitute the majority. If you can convince them it's safe and easy, they won't blink at giving you remote access to fix their petty problems rather than spending hours on the phone with you doing things they don't understand. It's kinda like having the car repair guy coming home to you, rather than telling you how to repair your car over the phone.
    • So, if a strong, dominant company does subscription pricing, it is rapacious, predetaory behavior. If a weak company in a weak economy does subscription pricing, it's a justifiable action to maintain shareholder value. Microsoft also functions in a weak economy and is accountable to shareholders. Why does the same action gain usch polar reactions from the /. crowd? I'm not a fan of subscription pricing. Neither am I a fan of is /. inherent bias toward OSS and practically everyone but Microsoft.
  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:54AM (#5385747) Homepage
    We buy solars subscriptions for our low end x1 style sun boxes already. Its sold as hardware support without the hardware support but we get access to the current releases.

    What I would like is a subscript deal where we get a copy of the current version (what ever it is and with all the patches applied) when its shipped. I only want the install cd, I don't need the other cd's they like shipping out. Right now it costs me about $100 to download a cd at current rates and it it shouldn't cost Sun Australia more than about $20 to send a real CD to me. I only need one media subscription so this is different than the license issue.
    • What I would like is a subscript deal where we get a copy of the current version (what ever it is and with all the patches applied) when its shipped.

      You can download the latest release of SPARC Solaris for free from Sun's website. The online version is updated pretty quickly after the CD's go out to contract customers. You only need to download it once and thanks to lofi you don't even need to cut a CD in order to build a JumpStart server.

      Your faith in Sun patches is touching. I prefer to test patches first before they're applied to my production machines.
      • The problem is the US idea that bandwidth is free. Like I said, it cost me $100 to download them.

        When we rebuild boxes, we throw the latest stable release on it, our own software and then run extensive tests. If the patches cause problems, we should find out about it then (unless they are real spooky failures)

        Also since we are only running way less than 5% of whats on the disk, there seem to be very few updates to the bits we use.
  • OK, so I can move to Sun's version of Linux and put up with their methodologies, or just move to a different kind of Linux.

    I honestly don't see Sun's strategy as being particuarly sound, unless they think they can leverage their name and reputation against Microsoft.
  • no surprises (Score:4, Interesting)

    by buzban ( 227721 ) <> on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:55AM (#5385749) Homepage
    Sun's really got to rethink the way it does business, i think. there's an interesting article [] at NYT on the topic. There was something in there (that I can't find now to save my life) about how Sun was going to do subscription-style pricing, but at a rate more competitive than Microsoft.

    There's also interesting discussion in there and here about the company's dependence on proprietary, expensive hardware in today's world of home 192-node beowulf clusters. ;)

    • Actually, sparc isn't proprietary, and neither is sbus. Both are open standards. x86 proprietary, despite being more common and cheaper. Not sure about PCI.

      It's really the industry that needs to rethink things - to get with the program and support open standards. Sun's been making the right moves, and getting slapped around for it.

  • Makes perfect sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:55AM (#5385751)
    Sun has always provided the OS for free on lower-end systems, and charged on the high-end based on the number of CPUs. All the other high-end system manufacturers do this, except for the free part.

    Now that Sun is offering Linux, they will need a way to break out the costs, so that customers that prefer Linux might be offered a price break over customers that prefer Solaris for specific tasks. For instance, webservers and app servers might see no real need for any additional costs for Solaris, but a 75 CPU database server might want the additional features.

    This method also provides the capability of pricing support appropriatly. I know, you MS people might not be familiar with this concept, but Sun has been providing support for their OS for years, and not charging by the hour when you call with a problem. Sun bundles OS and hardware support into one number for low end systems. Again, by breaking the pricing out, different support costs can be offered for the different OSes.

    Sun support has always provided, cumulative patch sets that can often be applied without reboots. <rant>I built a W2K box yesterday and had to boot over 7 times after the initial install of the OS as I applied various patches. It took me most of the morning to get all the patches installed. I pay for this support so that I can call up a technician that has the resources available to answer my questions. Sheesh .. I wish MS would follow this model.</rant>
  • With the MH project Sun is looking to replace MS on the desktop! WTF!! They are putting themselves directly in the line of fire with Big Bill! Are they nuts?!?

    Hmmm...OTOH, maybe they could do what MS has done with the server/desktop line - only with more reliablity and less cost. Imagine a server that can be scaled to nearly infinite (128 CPUs anyone?) levels and never goes down! Then put a Linux desktop in front of it running lots of GPL stuff (to keep the costs down) and built-in Java.

    And, as another poster put it, Sun has been giving back to the community for a very long time (i.e. NFS). Maybe this could work. I would love to not have to worry about my servers all the time ("Did it reboot overnight!?!") and get on with creating business solutions for my employer.
    • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:27AM (#5385864)
      From the article I got the impression that they are going to merge their SUN ONE stack with Solaris and bundle the whole package as the 'OS'. This idea has been touted previously and greeted with some scepticism as a feeble attempt by SUN to 'win' application server market share from the big boys and drawn comparrison to the usual Redmond type ploys.

      Mad Hatter would seem to reinforce this as an attempt to retain workstation market share rather than an attempt to compete directly with MS on the average desktop by delivering the whole sun development package at a stroke. Its a risky strategy though. Existing manufactures like Dell and HP will murder them on hardware pricing and with a bunch of Linus distros to choose from what makes the Sun one a compelling sell ?

    • With the MH project Sun is looking to replace MS on the desktop! WTF!! They are putting themselves directly in the line of fire with Big Bill! Are they nuts?!?

      You act like Sun hasn't been in direct competition with Microsoft before. Microsoft has been attacking both Sun's workstation and server markets for some time now.
  • by Kosi ( 589267 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @08:57AM (#5385758)
    Since I can think I wondered why software is treated so differently than other products. It would make sense to forbid this by law.

    For basically the same thing, e. g. WinNT Workstation and Server, which differ in 3 reg keys, they charge different prices, and it's said to be illegal to change this three keys. This would be the same if a car manufacturer would forbid you tuning your car!

    Also this license crap (fortunately here in Germany they don't apply with standard software), nobody would accept any license bullshit when buying a car that would e. g. limit the persons in the car to two (in comparison to "1-2 cpu only"), but for software, nobody seems to care.

  • by emptybody ( 12341 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:04AM (#5385788) Homepage Journal
    1) identify need for tool
    -- reliable hardware/os/software

    2) create tool - utilize feedback from 'Net
    -- sun gear, solaris, sunONE, linux, sendmail...

    3) distribute tool - the more users the better
    -- hardware costs quite a bit however, 20$ for distribution is OK by me. free sendmail download works for me. same for linux

    4) provide OPTIONAL contracted services - support, customization, extension, integration
    -- businesses need a way to guarantee their problems will be fixed and their special needs met, all in a time frame that does not impact their business. Your TOOL is not their business. Much as making a mitre saw is not part of a master craftsman's business. Some shops want a company to "own" the product they use. They need to shift the liability so they can concentrate on their business. That is why,, etc. work

    5) profit
    -- business will pay premium for said services if they fulfil their need. Thus funding further R&D

    Sun,, redhat... I know there are others out there that are giving away the "product" because their business is in the services - support, customization, extension, integration.

    Look at the game console space.
    The money is in the software not the hardware.
    people are going to buy one console, and a handful of peripherals. They are then going to load up on the software.

    It therefor makes more business sense for a company to give away the console (sell at cost) while building up a services group to provide the software, suport, and extensions to the original console.

    First ID the need and fill it. The rest will follow.

    Do not go the MS way and try to make all your cash up front OR make licensing the "tool" prohibitively expensive or illegal.

    Encourage people to think of more ways to use your tool. The Internet was developed as a way to get noise data from atlantic to pacific. It was "released" to the public to help it grow faster.

    Build it and if it fits a broad enough niche it will grow. As people invent new ways to use your "tool" the tool will begin to self evolve.

    The more you give, the more the users will give back.
  • companies will do what they have to do to make money, that's just the way things are

    in the meantime I'll be using FreeBSD...
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:06AM (#5385791)
    Check out the guy's presentation:
    Jonathan Schwartz presentation []

    Page 23:
    All software will move to one distribution, and three licensing models - Traditional, Predictable and Metered

    So comparing what Sun plans to what Microsoft has already done is rubbish.
  • by Aliks ( 530618 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:31AM (#5385887)

    Companies can't resist the temptation to seek out money for no effort.

    I can understand the logic of buying things. I give you money, you give me product or service, I get value.

    However, the logic of subscriptions for software is beyond me.

    I give you money, you give me product. I use product and get value. Then I give you more money for telephone support, and you give me telephone support. I get value. So far so good. But now suddenly you ask me for more money or else I can't keep on using what I have already bought. You don't have to do any more work, I don't get any more value but yet money changes hands.

    And this is not just payment by instalments. If I can't pay the price up front, then by all means do me a deal where I borrow the money and pay quarterly.

    These business models cannot survive where the users have a choice.
  • I hate to say this, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imadork ( 226897 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @09:48AM (#5385958) Homepage
    but a subscription based approach is actually better for software, especially OS software. As things stand now, most major OS vendors release new products every few years, with minor updates in the interim. They will generally hold their new features until the next full release, because they want to generate sales. A subscription model gives vendors incentive to not hold new features.

    The way I see subscription-based software working is that there's an introductory price (say, $150) for the basic OS and a year of updates. After that year is up, you can choose to continue the subscription at a maintenance rate of $50/yr, or you can stop maintenance and not get any updates. You still have a valid license for the OS, you just can't install any new updates. Once you go off maintenance, you need to pay the full introductory price to get back on.

    Everyone wins in this case: OS vendors get a steady stream of income, users of current PC's get timely updates for not much more than they pay now for OS updates, and users of older PC's don't have to pay a yearly tax just to run an outdated OS.

    If Apple had pitched .Mac this way, I might have bought it. (With the extra stuff .Mac offers, it would have to cost a little more, of course).

    Of course, this plan will never work, because software companies are not looking at subscriptions as a way to charge the same amount but even out their cash flow. They are looking at it as a source of revenue growth. Which means that instead of $150 and $50/yr, which is closer to what they get now ($150 every two or three years for the major OS update) we'll see more like $300 and $20/mo. And that would be bad.

    • I agree. MS has been using a subscription based business model for ever, but it has been a covert one - forcing users against their will to periodically upgrade to the latest version. The catch is that with every new version they have to make it look snazzier by adding cool new features, when what is really needed is better reliability. Bug fixes don't shift units, though because the customer expects the software to work perfectly, and bug fixes should be provided for free. As a result, the software tends to get more bloated and unreliable. If Microsoft were ever to create the perfect OS, they would go out of business, because nobody would want to upgrade. Under a subscrition licensing scheme, though, they would in theory have the incentive to make the quality of the product as high as possible - it would be good for business.

      This is probably over-optimistic of course. With MS being in league with satan and all, its probably just a way to screw more money out of people, and Sun are just turning to the dark side to avoid oblivion. The business model isn't really ethical in the first place IMHO, but anyone who is suddenly complaining about the new subscription scheme has been burying their heads in the sand up until now. MS are just being honest, which is sort of positive, I think

  • by bockman ( 104837 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @10:04AM (#5386027)
    It is a popular opinion, with which I mostly agree, that "Software is a service, not a product". Well, one of the most used ways to pay for a service is by subscribing with the service provider.

    Of course, an ideal software subscriptions model should be done for the customers, not against them, that is :

    • The subscription fee multiplied for the standard lifetime of a software release should be competitive with the price of the same software sold as 'bundled box product'.
    • The software should not 'magically' stop to work if you do not subscribe anymore. Simply you don't get updates and bug fixes.
  • by hoggy ( 10971 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @10:11AM (#5386062) Homepage Journal
    You know, many of you may find this hard to believe, but a lot of big companies actually want a subscription model for their software (and increasingly, hardware too).

    It makes cost planning a lot easier and moves big purchases off the balance sheet and onto the P&L. Companies want to know how much something will cost over a period of time - subscription gives them that. Buying the software up-front requires irritating amortization and depreciation models, and decisions on the lifetime of the product and what any upgrade cycle will be. CFOs like monthly expenses more than big capital purchases.

    IBM are leading the charge towards "utility computing". You can buy UNIX boxen from them with spare CPUs, where you can ring them up and ask for more processing power for more $/month. They want their software providers to follow suit and, for example, allow users to just increase their application server subscription to another processor on demand.

    Sun are just following the market.
  • "Microsoft's recent subscription pricing plan"? Microsoft has no "recent subscription pricing plan". All that talk ever was, was a lot of paranoia talk from people who didn't really know what Microsoft meant as "software as a service" when .NET first came out.

    Someone link me to more information about this "recent subscription pricing plan", please. Karma awaits!
  • One big difference (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @10:19AM (#5386119)
    Sun also will continue to offer its traditional per-CPU pricing model for its Sun ONE stack and Solaris, Schwartz said.

    Since they're now evidently offering companies a greater choice in how they're going to get their product, there is a very big difference between what they're doing and what MS is trying to do. As I understood it, MS was offering NO choice as to pricing model, which was made more onerous by the great leverage MS has over its customers as a result of limited choice in the Windows world.

    The fact that Sun customers will have a choice of pricing model means Sun's not trying to bulldoze anyone, and should be praised instead of vilified as the poster tries to do, since subscription plans can make very good sense for some customers. Extending the range of choices is never a bad thing as long as the set of choices always includes the choices you had before.
  • with so many GPL'd packages available in each distro, how can Linux go down the "subscription-plan road" ? we cant, and we wont. Its a benefit of the opensource community, since Linux doesnt NEED cash to survive (however some distros need money to survive, thats the difference) theres always GNU/Debian :)
  • by [l0l]Bobo ( 39241 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @10:24AM (#5386160)
    ... Well, at least it's not necessarily about making more money. It's primarily to regularize cash income for companies who have had a cyclic stock price tied to their release cycles.

    In fact, they want to do this so much that they'll sometimes make that option more attractive than purchasing: they're willing to sacrifice a little income if it means it's going to be flowing regularly instead of in chunks.
  • I think they confused the code name for their licensing plan with the code name for their desktop linux distro. Clearly this licensing scheme should be called "Mad Hatter".
  • A few points. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2003 @11:08AM (#5386455)
    1- This is not Sun changing the pricing for Solaris. Nowhere is it stated that Sun will stop issuing/honoring the Solaris RTU for systems with less than four CPUs.

    2- Orion will not just be selling Solaris, it will "build all of Sun's software into the Solaris OS and offer a yearly subscription for Solaris, Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's executive vice president of software, said at the vendor's Worldwide Analyst Conference here."

    That means no more licensing headaches for people using Sun's software for Solaris. Just one subscription for the directory tools, the management tools, etc.. Orion will make business with Sun easy for companies with money to burn and no time to spend dealing with it, and Sun has plenty of customers like that.
  • So many of us are passing judgement based on what Microsoft pulled, and that is hardly a good idea, since Microsoft is well-known for such tactics. Let's instead wait and see what Sun does before passing judgement. Whatever the case, a subscription service is bound to save some people money. The real test will be what is done for the rest of us. If Sun can offer a flexible subscription plan that offers good incentives for those who upgrade frequently, while continuing to offer their products without the subscription service, they are certain to develop additional revenue while not betraying the community. And with this revenue, they can continue to make valid contributions to the community. Which they can do simply because they have the money and resources to put to the task.
  • So... is that new game Master of Orion [] a crack for Solaris?

    Or is Solaris a planet in Master of Orion?

    I'm getting confused...

  • by Lxy ( 80823 )
    It looks like another attempt to grab more cash in this nasty economy to me

    In other news:
    McDonald's announced today that it was increasing the cost of a Big Mac from $1.73 to $1.75. Is this also an "attempt to grab more cash in this nasty economy"?
  • The only problem I see with Sun's Project Orion is that the heat and blast from the nuclear pulse propulsion drive will make it hard to administer the system effectively.
  • Ok, so in summary Sun needs help beating off Microsoft? Ok, well, maybe not phrased that way, but...
  • The way to increase one's profits isn't by alienating your current customer base, but by catering to new ones. If I were a Sun customer, this would send me elsewhere (Linux).
    However, as a non-Sun customer, what they should be doing instead is introducing new products that appeal more to me... How about servers geared to small businesses, something that can serve up my local files and host my web page at the same time... That's just off the top of my head. Don't alienate your current customer base.. Cater to new ones.
  • to use apt-get with rpm and perform X.509 certificates-based authentication. Each certificate holder could then buy software subscription for major releases and patches.

    of course, apt-move etc should also be implemented.

    with apt-get update && apt-get upgrade in cron this will allow to make your systems resonably secure.

    Existing situation with jar archives and signed patches is far from being ideal. I don't want to have Java only for being able to patch my server

  • Orion is much more (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There is more to Orion than meets the eye. If Sun pulls this off, for the first time Sun software will be truly inter-operable. For example the latest Sun ONE directory server will work seamlessly with the latest application server, which in turn will be tuned to take advantage of the latest Solaris on offer. All the products will have similar user interfaces making the use of them much easier. I have reason to believe that this is the first time Sun is getting its act together on the software front. Subscriptions should not be a bad idea. The idea is, Solaris comes pre-loaded with a plethora of software that work well as a team & if you want to make commercial use of any of these, you have to pay. I see it as a boon to the ordinary developer, who does not have to pay for the OS if he buys a single processor Sun box and he gets all the goodies for free. How far it affects the corporate customer remains to be seen.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak