Marketing? Who knows Sun's products?

Roumen asks, who is behind Sun marketing? I don't know, but I appreciate the reference to SWaP, a unit of efficiency in this advertisement.

The old ads which tried to sell "the sizzle" were amusing and did gather attention. Several friends asked me about "those weird dot in the conference room ads". The techie in me would prefer to see more emphasis on selling "the steak", the really cool stuff that most people haven't ever heard of. I know this is quite a challenge when Microsoft and others seem to outspend our marketing team by orders of magnitude. But it's still frustrating. A few weeks ago when I noticed that there were no Sun servers in a school system's rack of X86 servers, I asked if the sysadmin knew that Sun sold (small, efficent, inexpensive, fast, 64 bit...) X86 servers. No. A cousin who used to resell Sun Ray and other Sun products didn't know that Sun Ray is available on linux. Another friend seems to have confused Sun with one of those tech companies involved in securities fraud. No, no, no!!!!

Just when I was almost convinced that we are working on cool products that no one outside Sun will ever hear about, something strange happened. Yesterday my wife was teaching patchwork quilting to a nice young lady. I was trying to stay out of their way. I pried open the 600Mhz Dell P.C., installed memory and booted a recent Nevada build. The young lady looked up from her sewing project and saw my silly default background colour and asked, "what version of Solaris is that?" I didn't know what to say, "Uh, it's called Nevada, it's beyond Solaris 10." It turns out she worked in the IT department of a well-respected Irish university. It was really tempting to completely change the topic of the patchwork quilting meeting, but I tried to avoid monopolising the conversation. I think this is good news.

Comments:

I agree that Sun Marketing is quite bad, I work for a Sun iforce partner more on the software side, so if you think the HW marketing is bad take a look to the software side of the story. Nobody knows about JES, not even internal sales reps. We have a JES license and took me 2 weeks to get a license number for Sun development tools, nobody at Sun knew how I could get one, neither sales or support. I'm still waiting to get a copy of N1 Service Provisioning

So what is going on inside Sun, even for partners is difficult to get some information about next releases, patches tips, etc. To get a patch for JES products is a nightmare, there is not a simple way to list the patches available to the version I'm runnning, usualy we have to ask or try to figure out which patch to install.

In a not so old project the Sun Sales people were designing everything for a customer using Tibco instead of trying to sell SeeBeyond, they did not know about Sun-SeeBeyond relation, when we told them about that they were surprised and of course it was too late to take SeeBeyond to the table. So I think there are many things going wrong inside Sun communications.

I like Sun but sometimes is very hard to work with some people.

Posted by Carlos on October 05, 2005 at 07:37 AM GMT+00:00 #

Carlos,
Thank you for your comments and for your patience. Yes I agree, sometimes we don't even know our products. This may be typical for a large company in a fast changing market but I'm sure we could improve. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about JES except that someone decided to change the "official" abbreviation to "Java ES" which googles to a boatload of spanish pages such as:<em>"Java es un lenguaje de programaciĆ³n..."</em> Of course we engineers will blame marketing, but I have no idea why this change was made! I'm not one of those who thinks blogs will save the world, but I've already noticed that this informal engineer to public to engineer communications method is bypassing some communication breaks caused by marketing and organisational layers and helping us become a more cohesive company. If any "Java Enterprise Server" experts are reading this, would you like to comment? In the meantime, try looking for "Java ES" patches on SunSolve or in your Sun System handbook. Good luck and thanks you.

Posted by bnitz on October 05, 2005 at 08:25 AM GMT+00:00 #

Brian, Love SUN 'StarOffice 8" ware, depositing 'eval' copies to ALL business and home clientele. Messaged my local school district supervisor about the new FREE (Education/Research) StarOffice 8 software program this evening. GREAT NEWS!

Posted by William R. Walling on October 05, 2005 at 01:31 PM GMT+00:00 #

William, I'm glad you like it. I was impressed with the features as they were being developed, and I saw some examples of how much better it is at importing legacy (.doc) files. The migration tools look pretty useful.

Posted by bnitz on October 05, 2005 at 02:45 PM GMT+00:00 #

Sun's marketing is notorious for being bad or seriously misplaced, with the "DELL SUCKS" series being a refreshing exception. But still. Marketing is the most crucial aspect of product penetration: it doesn't matter how good or revolutionary your product is. It really doesn't matter if it's good or bad -- it could be crap -- just look at Microsoft Windows or Linux. What matters is just how good or how penetrating your marketing is. Microsoft is a living proof of that (and one we should learn from). I've been saying since day one that Sun needs to advertize on TV. No websites, no ads in magazines or conferences are going to do for product penetration what TV does. Why? TV has the widest reach. Does TV advertising cost a lot? Of course it does! But do you want to keep churning out BAD ADVERTISING and be JUST ANOTHER MARKETING DEPARTMENT, or do you want Sun's profits to soar? Which one is it gonna be?

Posted by ux-admin on October 06, 2005 at 07:36 AM GMT+00:00 #

Actually those "weird dot in the conference room" ads were on T.V. As a techie I never understood them. My non techie friends were equally clueless. (A dot eh? O.K. then what happens?) Those ads must've been directed at someone else. T.V. (and radio) has another advantage over the web, it can target a specific locale. The "Dell Sucks" ads which might have been effective amongst hacker surf clubs in Santa Cruz might not play well in Peoria board rooms or within the E.U. government ministerys. For them I'd suggest, "Worried about that Kyoto target you signed up to? Dell PCs aren't the worst, but ours will do more with less energy."

Posted by bnitz on October 06, 2005 at 09:14 AM GMT+00:00 #

...and then there's the problem that after we've spent our entire budget<sup>1</sup> trying to get TV, radio and street corner sign holders to tell the world about our products, some people just won't pay attention, even 'marketwatch expert' analysts who should know better.


<sup>1</sup> It wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft's marketing department spends more on doughnuts than we have in our entire marketing budget.

Posted by bnitz on October 06, 2005 at 02:43 PM GMT+00:00 #

Yeah, it's such a shame. I run a small IT services company and have just become an iForce Partner (or a Partner Advantage as it is now called, thats a bad nam IMHO). I provide kit and services to small (so small they don't even come into Suns customer scope) companies and bespoke, specialised software.

Two problems for me:

1: It seems that Sun just concentrates on the large customers, yet I (and I guess other small companies) can now sell Suns ultra reliable and ultra fast kit at the same/similar prices as Dell/Compaq/HP, yet these guys don't really know what you are about.

2: Added weight to the above, you have some fantastic stuff - spread the news, the techies, trade press etc. know you, you need to focus on those that don't.

And as for the Sun Ray's, I get a look of astonishment - and then the question, why aren't these things everywhere, why isn't Sun everywhere - Sun marketing could help me out a bit! SPread the word :o)

Very positive feedback about the new Ultra 20 as well... I'm only just getting started - just starting to get the quotes/information out and the orders in - there must be more like me.

Sun never miss and opportunity, to miss an opportunity.

Posted by Sean Clarke on October 07, 2005 at 09:35 AM GMT+00:00 #

Brian, Today fit a small 'legal' office with StarOffice 8 software replacing COREL Word Perfect Office 12 (their current word processing ware), NICE! An observation, fast printing versus Corel running MS Windows XP Media Center Edition. As both use the 'default' system printer this would indicate something is troubled.

Posted by William R. Walling on October 07, 2005 at 12:50 PM GMT+00:00 #

Sean, I agree we shouldn't ignore small and medium sized businesses, developers, schools or resellers. It is great to hear positive comments about the technology but we really need more than just "Wall Street" to understand what we have on offer.

Posted by bnitz on October 07, 2005 at 02:50 PM GMT+00:00 #

Ok, glad to know that there is even people inside SUNW willing to listen from SMB/developers/indivisuals. Sun reseller here is almost condescending when I asked as an indivisual. And, several months ago I queried about Solaris subscription plan, I got an answer like "What's that?"

That is certainly good marketing.. No wonder I've long been the lone and only supporter of SUN and Solaris desktop user at various places I worked for during recent years.

Posted by Ivan Wang on October 08, 2005 at 06:45 AM GMT+00:00 #

Ivan, All I can say is that there are several thousand employees within Sun and many resellers (StorageTech may improve our sales support in some locales.) If you don't get good support or satisfaction with one, I hope you don't give up. Thank you for your patience.

Posted by bnitz on October 08, 2005 at 05:22 PM GMT+00:00 #

This last Saturday I had a little "pow-wow" with a guy from a local mom'n'pop store (actually a chain of stores, so maybe not quite mom'n'pop) where I usually buy my computer HW stuff when I'm not ordering it over the internet. Anyway, to put things into perspective before I begin, we're talking your stereotypical geek with ashtray glasses and bleached hair, roughly about 20-24, staring back at you blankly from behind the counter. Now, with that out the way, I went there to pick up some RAM for my (Solaris of course!) workstation at home. I actually made an execersise in futility by asking him if they had any 2 x dual core Opteron motherboards. First he told me, no, there is no such a thing. This is the guy that works at the computer store, mind you, who's supposed to know what he're talking about. For some bizzare reason, rather than dropping it on the spot, I pressed on, by pointing out that Sun sells systems with such motherboards. Answer: "but the price of the motherboard alone is 2000!" (of local currency). Now \*that\* downright infuriated me! Still with a smile on my face, I countered: "no, the whole system costs 2000 grand, with three years warranty!". Answer: "yeah, but Sun, that's something else." I think at that point I entered into overtime. With adrenaline pumping, I told the geek, "NO, completely standard components!" he just made a face like "dude, you don't know what you're talking about", but decided to drop it. I dropped it too, but was really fighting an urge to grab this guy and shake him throughly. This guy's working in a computer store and doesn't have a clue beyond a run-o'-the-mill Pentium PC-bucket and Windows, and then even makes a face like \*I\* don't know what I'm talking about. Now, how is Sun going to penetrate such a market??? How???

Posted by ux-admin on October 10, 2005 at 04:01 AM GMT+00:00 #

Wow, well thanks for trying anyway! That reminds me of my experiencetrying to explain non-Microsoft desktops to a similar retailer. I don't know how to get into that market. I'm not even sure it's such a good idea. My observation on visits to the U.S. is that the retail PC software and hardware market is dying. Independent retailers willing to hire knowledgeable staff are gone. Products are in a race to the bottom in quality, price and service. I recently purchased a popular brand-name Pentium-M laptop from a large U.S. retailer which overheats and shuts down regularly. Now how long will businesses put up with this rubbish before at least considering alternatives, even if the alternatives aren't available at the local \*-Mart?

Posted by bnitz on October 10, 2005 at 06:12 AM GMT+00:00 #

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