Wednesday Nov 14, 2007

Dell to Offer Solaris - Partnering like its 1999

Another competitor has just announced that it will be selling Solaris subscriptions.  Today at Oracle world Michael Dell and Jonathan Schwartz announced a multiyear deal whereby Dell will distribute Solaris OS with Solaris support subscriptions on select Dell PowerEdge servers. 

This is the third big HW vendor this year that has pledged support for Solaris (HP are ya listening? ;-).  More importantly, today's announcement is part of a trend that began four years ago but has really accelerated this past year -- Sun's acceptance that the solid Sun stack (SPARC + Solaris) is no longer the only answer.  

To survive and thrive in today's ecosystem customers need to be able combine components from various vendors to meet their needs and fit their environments, if the vendors don't facilitate this, the customers will go elsewhere.  Sometimes this may mean Dell or IBM gear running Solaris and sometimes this means Sun boxes supporting Windows or Red Hat. 

The List

When you look at the list of deals that Sun and its enemies partners have struck in the past four years, its pretty impressive:

As I mentioned, you'll notice that 2007 has been a particularly busy year. 

Can't wait to see who's next.

Pau for now...

Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Out with the Dell, In with the Sun

When Sun acquired identity management standout Waveset a few years ago, along with the company came a whole bunch of Dell boxes that they had acquired, post-boom, on the cheap. 

Thanks to the magic of virtualization however, these roughly 125 systems have been recently replaced by 7 Sun Fire X2200 servers.  (For those inquiring minds, the X2200s being used are each fitted out with 2 dual core AMD 64s, 32GM of RAM and 2 500GB SATA drives.)

Think of all the power the Dell boxes used to draw and the heat that they generated, heck you probably now need a parka when you go in the lab!  And what will they do with all with all that extra space?  An air hockey table? Ping Pong?  My vote would be for a tiki bar.


Outgoing Dells

Chris G., IT dude extrodinaire, sits on a mini-mountain of outgoing Dell boxes.

More Dell boxes on their way out.  This stack equals one X2200.

The rest of the Dells -- as far as the eye can see.


Incoming Suns

All of the above were replaced with this rack of 5 servers plus 2 more in another rack.

Pau for now...

Thursday Aug 23, 2007

Bye Bye SUNW, Hello JAVA

A couple of hours ago I heard the news that Sun was changing its stock ticker symbol from SUNW to JAVA.  I gotta say Im in support of it. 

When I was starting up about 4 years ago I remember seeing research that stated that, on an international basis, "Java" had over 85% brand awareness.  Thats huge.  To put it in perspective, this put it at the same level as such well known tech brands as Intel, Nokia and Acrobat.  I dont remember where "Sun" was but Im only half joking when I say we were glad to make it to double digits (I think we made it to double digits).

Changing our ticker symbol is not the same as changing the company's name but it does link us to a highly recognizable asset (think of all those press releases and articles that list the symbol).   This association will give a tremendous boost to the global awareness of Sun.  As we leave the idea of the monolithic stack behind and look to partnerships and the ecosystem as the future, the importance of brand awareness grows significantly.

This was a bold move but one that positions us well for the future.

Pau for now...

Thursday Aug 16, 2007

Sun & IBM: Frienemies gettin' Friendlier

Two days ago I wrote about the brave new world of frienemies, a world born out of the desire and need for large companies to provide their customers with choice:  

"It is because of this that Sun resells Red Hat and Suse, works very closely with Canonical/Ubuntu and encourages sales of Solaris on systems from 'competitors' such as IBM, Dell and HP."

Well in the case of IBM, as of an hour ago, we now do more than simply encourage Solaris sales on IBM equipment.  The two companies just announced that rather than just providing Solaris for their blade servers, IBM will now provide Solaris 10 subscriptions on IBM x86 based blades and rack servers through IBM's standard routes to market. 

Very cool!

Call me a cock-eyed optimist but I like this new world of cooperation.  It gives Sun access to new markets, IBM access to new markets and most importantly, provides the customer with choice.   Whats not to like? :)

Pau for now...

Wednesday Jun 13, 2007

He's Never Invited me for dinner!

When I got in this morning someone had already sent me a pointer to Jonathan Schwartz's blog/"Open" letter to Linus Torvalds.  Jonathan's blog is in response to a recent posting of Linus's where Linus expresses skepticism about Sun's motives and sincerity around Open Source and GPLv3.

I love the fact that Jonathan himself wrote an open and immediate response and that the tone was so level and polite, heck Linus even got a dinner invitation out of it.  As a member of Sun's Free and Open Source group and the guy tasked with further strengthening our ties to the GNU/Linux community this kind of Sr. management attention makes my job a lot easier.


I also got a big kick out of the comments posted.  As of now there are 73 comments and they range from the supportive:

        Jonathan - pure class. Linus is obviously making valid points within his sphere  of influence. You've countered with friendly, professional and intelligent thoughts.

        Posted by Mr. E. on June 13, 2007 at 02:50 PM PDT #

to the not so supportive:

        Sun sucks...that's all.

        Posted by thetruebeliever on June 13, 2007 at 06:21 PM PDT #

And thats great.  A discussion is happening in the open and all opinions are welcomed.  For it is through dialog and building relationships that we (Sun, Linus, the FOSS movement) will all truly succeed.

Pau for now...

Tuesday Jun 12, 2007

Chattin' with the Big Mac (Nealy)

Ive been at Sun almost 12 years now and ironically I had my first face to face chat with Scott McNealy about a month ago. 

Scott's presence used to permeate Sun but in the last year, after passing the "CEO baton" to Jonathan Schwartz, its really Jonathan's presence that has been felt.  McNealy is still Chairman of Sun and is CEO of Sun Federal but I assumed that he was off doing his own thing and pet projects like Curriki and had basically disassociated from the rest of the company. 

I was quite surprised then when, while waiting in the Executive Briefing Center to present Sun's GNU/Linux strategy to a government customer,  McNealy bounded in.  As the head of Sun Fed he was there to meet and greet and field any questions they might have.  He asked what myself and a couple others on the Linux team were there for and I told him we were there to talk about Sun and GNU/Linux.  Immediately he launched into a detailed litany of all the reasons why Sun is a strong supporter of Linux distros like Red Hat and SUSE, citing figures and numbers as if he were the product manager. 

Scott was in a great mood and I offered to escort him to the room where the customer was checking out demos.  He took me up on the offer and as we walked he talked more about our Linux strategy.  He asked me to send him a copy of my presentation and said he would mark it up and send it back.  About a week later I sent him my preso, Im interested to see if he'll respond.

Either way I was quite impressed with the energy and commitment I saw. 

Scott McNealy, still crazy passionate after all these years.


Pau for now... 


Wednesday May 23, 2007

Community One...Java One...Part Two

Well here is part two of two in my Pulitzer prize winning series on Community One and JavaOne '07. 

Community One:  This was a pretty good debut for the event.  Attendance was good although it skewed a bit older (Im not sure why this was since JavaOne itself had a good balance of younger and older folks.)  The highlights of this for me was the FOSS panel discussion that  I mentioned in my last blog as well as the track on "Linux vs. Solaris" which was led by Ian Murdock.  Contrary to the provocative title, the track  actually covered how the two Operating systems had a lot to learn from each other.  It was in this context that Ian gave more insight into project Indiana.

JavaOne: This year's J1 was cranking.  There were so many people there learning, discussing, meeting and having a generally good time.  In fact some of the most productive discussions happened, as others have observed, after hours in some of the local drinking establishments.  The big news was Sun's delivering on the promise of liberating the Java platform and the introduction of  the JavaFX family of products.  We even got to work with Richard Stallman again to get a quote in support of the Java liberation.

Juggy: Another special feature of  this year's JavaOne was the appearance of Juggy the Java finch and his Sgt Pepper-esque henchmen.  This trio could be seen through out the Moscone center as well as after hours swooping down on unsuspecting victims and making them swear allegiance to Java and Free and Open Source Software.  The videos should be coming soon but until then check out the pics below. 

Getting Juggy with it -- Ian Murdock is strong armed (dont let the flowery hats fool you) into swearing allegiance to Java and FOSS at the Thirsty Bear.



Juggy strikes on the show floor while Java DB product manager Monyi Lu is trying to do booth duty. 

GNOME board memeber and kiwi-in-training Glynn Foster bellys up to the bar at Bix. 


A virtual Paul in the wicked cool and FOSS friendly project Wonderland.  See it in action.

The author in a borrowed chapeau at the Hotel W.  Most nights seemed to end up here. 

Relive the thrills and chills of JavaOne '07: The slide sets for JavaOne just came out today.  Check out the presentations from the Free and Open Source track here.   Multimedia versions of all the presentations are promised in the next month.  You can also check out the highlights of the whole conference here.


Pau for now... 


Wednesday May 16, 2007

Community One...Java One...Part One

OK now I finally have some time to document my adventures in JavaOne land. 

The first thing I noticed was how much energy and attendance there was.  Ive been going to JavaOne off and on for the last six or seven years and it certainly hasnt been this vibrant in a while.  I was pleased to see how packed the exhibition space was as well as how the attendees spanned the generations from twenty-somethings all the way up to the gray haired pony tails.  And speaking of fresh blood, when MC Gage kicked off  his annual "everybody stand up routine" by saying "sit down if this is your first JavaOne" about half the crowd sat down!  Most excellent.

What was also particularly cool was that the warm up act before the first keynote was a hip young dj.   DJ Anon was infinitely cooler than the fifty-something space-age star trek musicians who we had last year (or was it the year before?).

 Waiting for the Java to flow - pre opening keynote.

Welcome to the machine, behind the scenes at the Community One key note.

The Community One Free and Open Source software panel:  Peter Brown (FSF), Dalibor Topic (lead Kaffe developer and originally from Nis),  Simon Phipps (moderator)


The panel continued:  Simon,  Mark Wielaard (Red Hat), Cliff Schmidt (Apache legal), Ian Murdock (Sun).

Let the wild rumpus begin!

 Pau for now...

Wednesday May 02, 2007

My Presentation in Hawaii: FOSS is Sun's Software Strategy

I finally got around to sending a copy of the presentation I delivered back in January at PFOSSCON '07  to Julian.  He wasted no time in posting it so if you want to check it out here it is.  In it I explain at a high level why a company like Sun would choose FOSS as its software strategy, what changes it requires within the company and how it has evolved out of a core value of ours: sharing.  I then end by presenting three case studies, the freeing of Solaris, UltraSPARC and Java technology -- Sun's three most significant intellectual assets.

Pau for now...

Tuesday Apr 24, 2007

JavaONE -- here we come!

Well, two weeks from today JavaONE kicks off at the Moscone center in San Francisco, running from May 8-11. 

CommunityOne:  This year there is a very cool pre-conference event that be held on Monday the 7th -- CommunityOne.  CommunityOne is an open and free (as in beer) event that "explores participation-based technologies, solutions and business models that are transforming lives and industries."  If that blurb leaves you scratching your head, here are a few of the things that will be happening that I think are particularly cool:

JavaONE:  At the main conference itself there will a bunch of FOSS related talks.  If you are interested in knowing more about how Sun and Canonical went about packaging the Java Stack components for Ubuntu 7.04 check out "Packaging Java Platform Applications Into Ubuntu (TS-7361)" with Harpreet and Jeff Bailey.  Also dont miss the .org ZONE where a whole bunch of FOSS .orgs will be hangin' out including the Free Software Foundation, the Apache Software Foundation, PostgresSQL, Derby, Zimbra, OpenJDK....

And of course I would be remiss if I didnt mention pod #961, where Joe, Tracy and I will be taking turns manning Sun's GNU/Linux booth.   My slots are Tuesday night and all Wednesday so if you're at the show those times swing by the pod and say hi.


Pau for now... 

Monday Apr 02, 2007

My first trip back to the Mothership


As a recent member of the Sun diaspora I made my first trip back to the Bay Area last week. I took the "nerd bird" from Austin and arrived bright and early Monday morning.  I came out to give a couple of presentations and sync up with Ian Murdock.  The trip went well and I packed a bunch into my three days there.  Here are some highlights:

OS Ambassadors

Monday afternoon Simon and I presented to the OS Ambassadors, Sun's top OS SE's from around the world.  The ambassadors had gathered for their biannual week-long conference where they sync up with all thats going on around the company.  Simon took them through his FOSS pitch and I detailed our GNU/Linux business.  We got quite a bit of interest in both topics. 

Turns out that we were the warm-up act for Jonathan Schwartz who spent about 5 minutes on prepared remarks and then fielded questions from the audience.  He was his usual eloquent and laid back self.   He in turn was the warm up act for the Bryan and Mike show.  To call these guys, particularly Bryan, high-energy would be a severe understatement.  They regaled the crowd with tales of the extremely cool stuff they've been working on for the past year and were highly entertaining.

Presenting to Senior Software Execs:  Of Sticky Notes and Free Software

Wednesday afternoon the FOSS team got to brief our top Software Execs on the status of what we've been working on.  David Marr, our team's legal dude and one of Sun's representatives on committee B, and I presented on our relationship with the Free Software Foundation as well as GPL version 3.  As luck would have it, the morning of the preso the latest draft of GPLv3 was released to the public so David got to scramble and revise his preso for the afternoon. 

David drew on a host of high tech props including dollar bills, Post-it notes and notebook paper to get across the finer points of patent licensing.  (Needless to say, going forward we wont be accepting any Post it notes from 3M that are not GPLv3)

David Marr, with the help of volunteer Jean Elliott, explaining the nuances of patent licensing (Note: Jean did not get to keep the dollar).

My Dinners with Ian

Both nights I was there I got to dine with Ian (the first also included a whole gaggle of Sun luminaries such as Tim Bray, Josh Berkus, Simon, Bryan, Mike etc as sort of an unofficial welcome to Sun for Ian).  I've been very impressed with how rational Ian comes across and his clarity around where he wants to go.  Im glad he's on our team.

And speaking of GPLv3

When I ran into our fearless leader on campus I was good naturedly harangued regarding the GPLv3 shirt that I had promised him --  I told him the shirt was in the mail. 

To be clear:  In order for Sun to make a final decision on GPLv3 two things need to first happen 1) the final draft needs to be published and evaluated and  2) the shirt needs to be wicked cool.


The view of the estuary outside my hotel.


Pau for now..

Monday Mar 19, 2007

Ian's in the House!

Well the big news today is that Ian Murdock started this morning as Sun's Chief Operating Platforms Officer.  As the founder of Debian along with the work he has done as the CTO of the Linux Foundation and the head of the Linux Standard Base, he will bring a fresh perspective to our OS strategy. 

I had a great talk with him last week and am excited by his thinking, particularly around the area of Solaris and usability.   He mentioned that while he will be resigning as the CTO of the Linux Foundation, he plans to remain as the head of the Linux Standard Base, so that means Sun will be assured a representative there :-)  Im also glad to hear that in true FOSS fashion he wont be relocating.   The more Sun decentralizes geographically the better (says the recent Austin emigre).

Welcome Ian!


PS look for the answers to the Saints tomorrow.

Pau for now... 

Wednesday Feb 07, 2007

OpenSolaris: To 3 or not to 3, that is the Question

Well we're at an exciting point here on the "eve" of the release of GPLv3.   In light of the impending release the question has been raised, does it make sense to dual license OpenSolaris under both CDDL and GPLv3?  As OpenSolaris is already licensed under CDDL this means that the question on the proverbial table is whether to add GPLv3.  Obviously, since GPLv3 has not been released, its difficult at this point to definitively pledge support for the license or to rule it out.  That being said, however, it is an appropriate time to start soliciting opinions from the community(ies).  Whatever the final decision is, it cant be one that Sun makes in a vacuum or that is dictated to the community.

Stephen Harpster, engineering director for OpenSolaris, kicked off the dialog a week ago by soliciting feedback from the community on the idea of dual licensing Open Solaris under GPLv3  .  The funny thing is no one responded...just kidding, it has produced a maelstrom of impassioned responses.  Rather than trying to sum up the nature of the comments im going to take the easy way out and point you to Stephen O'Gradys blog from Saturday since he has done a great job of  capturing the issues. 

So thats the topic of the current community and its members...what about new members we want to attract?  One of the biggest reasons that Sun would look to add GPLv3 is to win over new converts to  "Free" Solaris and to grow the community by bringing in folks from the GNU/Linux world.   What I personally would love to see is for the GNU crew to take the Solaris kernel, wrap it in a GNUserland and create a distro that would be as easy to install as Ubuntu (which I, a marketing guy, installed recently in six easy steps that caused no feelings of  inadequacy or anxiety).   We could keep a rocket-scientist Solaris distro but why shouldnt there be multiple distros based on the Solaris kernel for various user types?

So this leads to the question, what does the FSF, the champion of GPLv3, think of all this?  Rather than pondering via inference and guesswork, we asked them.  At the end of last week, Stephen, Simon, Sara and I held a call with Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF, and a team from the FSF to get their thoughts on the possibility of dual licensing OpenSolaris.  Peter and crew were very receptive to the idea and gave us some thoughts to ponder.  It was a very good call and we ended with Peter and team agreeing to put their heads together and think through the most effective way they could help us with our decision.   The FSF'ers recognize the sensitivities around the topic and were going to give a think about how to weigh in and in which forums would be most appropriate to share their views with the OpenSolaris community as well as  Free Software advocates.

Im very interested to hear what they come back with.  Stay tuned...


Pau for now... 


I look after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF. Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX.


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