Build It And They Will Come

Who on earth would build the United States' largest indoor shopping mall in the middle of Minnesota? Windy, cold, and snowy all winter long. Ick. Living in Virginia, we get more than enough snow and cold for my tastes. With 4.2 million square feet, containing 520 retail stores, an aquarium, movie theaters, and a $650,000,000 pricetag to build, who would expect that they could possibly sustain enough consumer traffic to make it profitable? The Ghermezian brothers, that's who.

So why am I reading about a shopping mall that is (according to Yahoo!) 1104 miles from my Virginia home? Interesting question. I was trying to think of a successful business move that comes close to what Sun has accomplished over the years.

Building an engineering workstation out of commodity off the shelf parts? Ludicrous. Systems that communicate over non-proprietary protocols for multi-vendor interoperability? Why, for Pete's sake, would you want to do that? Making that silly Unix operating system that all those engineers and scientists use strong enough to handle business computing that has traditionally been run on mainframes? Yeah, right. And what about those dreamers who said you could run 64, or even 72 CPUs (or more) in a single box, and actually get decent scalability? Fools, I tell you! Java, some cute little programming language for playing games on the web, like that is going to get used in the Fortune 500 customers for anything approaching business critical functions. Don't make me laugh so hard that caffeinated beverages squirt out of my nostrils! An open source office suite that rivals the large Redmond corporation's finest products? Never happen.

And now we get to the point, OpenSolaris and a new licensing model for the developer community. I've been watching the nay-sayers, rabblerousers, and Sun's critics for the past month or so:

-   What about Trusted Solaris? Opening the source to Solaris will seriously compromise Trusted Solaris users! Government agencies will just grind to a halt as techno-terrorists wreak havoc all over the world!!

-   No one is going to write drivers for Solaris, it will never run decent on anything other than Sun's badged gear!

-   Who is going to play with this thing at all? The Linux geeks are busy working on Linux.

-   The CDDL is too restrictive and proprietary to be called an open source license.

-   Solaris is Sun's bread and butter. If Sun is giving away the crown jewels of the empire, the end of Sun must be on the horizon.

All I can say to those things is "keep it coming". There is no such thing as bad press. Say anything you like, but make sure you spell Mcnealy correctly. The sky is falling, huh Chicken Little? I haven't seen people talking about Sun, Sun's products, and Sun's cool geeky factor this much, or with this much passion on both sides of the issues in a long time. I'm glad we are putting something out there that excites people enough (good or bad) to start ranting and raving (whether based in fact or not).

For answers to these, or any concern, talk to your friendly local sales team, Press Relations department, or just go see for yourself. Solaris downloads are open now, and OpenSolaris is accepting members. I, for one, have noticed that every time the industry buzz starts to lean against one of our "crazy ideas", Sun seems to leap ahead, again, and again.

bill.

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