Sunday Apr 05, 2009

The problem with Proprietary Middleware Stacks

There is a great saying that it took a long time to invent the wheel, but replicating it is easy! I think the main challenge with proprietary stacks is exactly this -- paying for a business model on a wheel that in its day was revolutionary, but today is old and not effective. Does your car still drive on a granite wheel -- didn't think so! The open source "wheel" has taken the best designs from the proprietary world and enhanced them, and in doing so created some great new solutions at lower costs.

What I am not suggesting is rip-and-replace! But I am suggesting you look at your whole application needs and see when open source alternatives like GlassFish will work.We have seen some really interesting cost savings by using GlassFish over the proprietary alternatives -- savings of up to $3M in some instances.

 Now before you think that open source is just for those hot web 2.0 garage startups.. consider that T-Mobile is using GlassFish with some great results.

"High availability allows us to meet our stringent uptime requirements and the Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server enables us to cost-effectively deploy new services while meeting our performance and availability requirements," said Erez Yarkoni, vice president, T-Mobile, USA.

The other issue to consider with proprietary vendors is lock-in. Basically for the proprietary vendor lock-in is key to success. With lock-in they become a sole source vendor for your needs and they can charge what they like -- and may have!

The combination of high-cost, proprietary products and vendor lock-in frequently constrains businesses from embarking on new software initiatives -- something that customers I speak to can't afford to have happen.

Additionally, the capital expenditures and associated financial risk required to deploy proprietary products can either delay the profitability gains of new software initiatives or simply prevent enterprises from attempting innovative ideas to drive new revenue streams.

For example, proprietary products from BEA Systems/Oracle are far more expensive to acquire than open-source alternatives and don't offer enterprise developers the flexibility to customize to fit the business' changing needs. Although developers can submit feedback, the cycle of development is long and, with a limited number of engineers working on the software, new features and updates are delivered much more slowly than in open source.

To ensure that problems can be addressed as quickly as possible and to reduce operational costs, enterprises can chose a comprehensive open-source platform backed by an established commercial entity that provides support and understands the interdependencies not only of that platform but of other third-party products that are already in the enterprise's IT infrastructure.

 I invite you to share your story, or read other stories from real users:

Friday Apr 03, 2009

Open Source and the Enterprise

I keep hearing from customers that I visit that cost is becoming (or has become) THE issue to deal with in 2009. More and more of these customers (and they are the large enterprises) are opening the dialog with "How do we save by using Open Source?" It is amazing that just 3-6 months ago open source was a hit and miss topic, but now it seems to be firmly in the mainstream. 

Most enterprises that are considering open-source software typically want the best product from the different categories to make up a complete Web application platform: a Web server (like Apache), an application server (like GlassFish or JBoss), scripting (like PHP and Ruby), an Enterprise Service Bus (like OpenESB or MuleSource) and a portal (like LifeRay). Adopting this approach has some significant benefits but also presents its own challenges:

  • Cost/time to integrate the disparate projects together
  • Ability to effectively patch and maintain the disparate projects
  • Support of the product if/when problems arise and who can provide a fix for the product to address business critical issues

I would love to year how you are trying to handle these challenges. I know my colleges working with the proprietary vendors have decided to declare open source more expensive than proprietary, but I find that argument nonsensical. 

I promise to publish any results here as well as how we are trying to solve this at Sun. Our approach might surprise you.. more to come...

Wednesday Aug 20, 2008

Oracle Fusion Increase Prices 40% for SOA -- Does that make sense?

Many customers and prospects I speak to today have a similar problem.. how to get the best ROI of 20% of IT spend. After all the other 80% goes to maintenance of existing systems.

The challenge is huge since the business is looking to IT to drive strategic business value and increase revenue to the company by either creating offerings that increase revenue per use (ARPU) or drive the business into new areas that result in more subscribers.

Now some proprietary software vendors have put the added squeeze on customers by arbitrarily increasing software license costs (Oracle just increased their Fusion costs  by over 40%) with no additional value add. This is absolutely amazing since there is ZERO new value just a huge increase in cost. For those customers looking for other options I recommend you try our TCO calculator at to see what Sun can save you by just changing your software vendor. In addition we promise no stupid software audits and if you decide to change you hardware topology go ahead.. again no additional costs!

Here at Sun we are about providing real business return for you by only charging you for the value we add. So if you are wanting to save over $6M on your software costs for SOA register for our SOA offering and see how much return you can create for your business.


Friday Jun 27, 2008

How to save $2.76 Million USD

We have been working really hard at creating a compelling offering for customers that want to be freed from proprietary database and application server vendors that are arbitrarily raising their prices. We have just announced a New GlassFish and MySQL Offering that gives unlimited usage based on the number of employees in an organization. If you have not heard the news listen to a recap here, or read the full press release here.

For a typical customer with under 1,000 employees running application servers on 20 dual-CPU, dual-core x86 servers and running database servers on 10 dual-CPU, dual-core x86 servers, the three year total cost of ownership (TCO) for proprietary software will exceed $3 million USD. The three year TCO for GlassFish and MySQL Unlimited for this same configuration is just $240,000 USD – a savings of over $2.76 million USD. For details on the comparison see

At last a solution that doesn't require you call your software vendor if you decide to add database instances, or deploy on more machines, or change hardware configuration, or ...

Check out the site and let me know how much your company will save.

Monday Jun 09, 2008

A big day for SOA

We have been feverishly working on the next release of our JCAPS product and I am really happy to report that today is the day that we announce it to the world. Although we are just announcing it today, we have had many customers using it already and making sure it is ready for prime time. The press release has all the details but for me the these 3 features excited me the most:

1) Built from Open Source

JCAPS 6 is built from the OpenESB community. The importance of this is two fold -- for the JCAPS customer it ensures that the product is more open and mitigates the risk of vendor lockin, for the potential customer or general developer out there they can use the Enterprise Service Buss features of OpenESB, knowing that if they find the product indispensable (and I am sure they will!) they can migrate up to the full featured version of JCAPS. As a side benefit for Sun and our sales team it reduces the sales cycle.

2) Powerful update to the tested and popular JCAPS 5

For existing customers this is the "must have release" since we have been listening to your feedback and have added additional features like support for BPEL 2, event notification and JBI (reduced vendor lock-in). For prospects and customers waiting for the "right" SOA platform, this is it. The feedback from our early access customers has been fantastic, but don't take my word for it, give it a try by downloading OpenESB today and giving it a whirl!

3) Focussed on real customer pain points

SOA gets a bad name because it doesn't solve world hunger (wish it did, but it doesn't!) But what it does a fantastic job at solving is the  "single view of the customer problem" -- see my posting on Sibel for me information.
Basically the product allows for the real time consolidation of master data (like customer, patient, supplier, citizen, product, etc) providing businesses with the tools needed to solve one of the biggest challenges today i.e. customer retention and acquisition. This new product is in the Master Data Management market and is aptly called Sun's Master Data Management Suite.

Let me encourage you again to read the release, download and use the OpenESB and let me know what you think of the product.

Wednesday Apr 09, 2008

Congratulations -- New OpenOffice Website...

Office BannerI have been meaning to blog about this for a while, but if you have not been to the new website, you really need to go there and see the complete redesign of the page. It is absolutely amazing!

Gone is all the clutter and tons of words, replaced by a simple page that really draws the audience in.

I wish more web pages were build upon this simple premise that home pages are gateways that need to draw the audience in and provide simple navigation to the pertinent information.

Congratulations again to the community redesigned 

Tuesday Apr 08, 2008

Stop Treating Your Customer as Sibel!

I have just had quite a fight with my financial institution who did not think it appropriate to contact me to tell me my stock sale had not been completed as I had requested. The customer service representative didn't know that I had other dealing with the bank and treated me, I suppose like they do with all new customers, with a high degree of "who cares!" and told me that it must be my mistake. I escalated to the management and when they realized that I had other dealing with them -- mortgage, investment, savings, etc. they were suddenly all apologetic and refunded me the difference between what the stock was sold incorrectly for and what it should have been sold for. Maybe in the initial rep had known all my relationships they would have done a better job at making me happy

Straight after this episode, I was standing in line at a security gate at my local airport where they allow frequent flyers from one particular airline the ability to bypass the security line. Again I was astonished that this airport didn't see my business across multiple airlines important to them, the fact that I travel almost weekly didn't seem to matter, but because I wasn't on some super-elite status of a particular airline I was relegated to the "standard line."

These although trivial examples brought home to me the business need for a single view of the customer. Harrods had exactly this problem until they implemented Java CAPS. Now they can view their customer as one.

Not seeing the customer as one entity sometimes have dire consequences. There has been much written about drug interactions and patients dying because the doctor and the pharmacist didn't know about other medications that the patient was on. I am glad there is a solution to this as well, and Cleveland Clinic is a great example of an organization who had implemented a technological solution to address these needs.

I urge you all to consider making your customer happier by ensuring you see one 1 customer -- not the 24 isolated interactions you currently have. If you need help, check out the white paper on what we can do to help.

Tuesday Apr 01, 2008

Accenture and Sun Unveil New Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Security

If you have not read the news, better read it now!

Sun has partnered with Accenture to develop pre-built solutions that make it easier and less costly for businesses and governments to protect their information systems from growing security threats. Built using Sun's identity management and service-oriented architecture (SOA) technologies, these solutions help provide stronger security, improve compliance and risk management, and offer a simplified deployment method to speed implementations, and reduce cost and complexity.

If you want more details listen to his great podcast on the topic.


Monday Mar 24, 2008

Do you need a FedLet?

You know when Daniel posts a blog like this, there can only be something really cool and exciting about to happen.. Unfortunately he has not shared the news with me, but I was hoping that by driving enough traffic and comments to him he might spill the beans!

Come on Daniel.. what is a FedLet? Or is it a Fedlet, fedlet, FEDlet, FEDLET, ....


Friday Mar 21, 2008

Obama Passport Breach

I was reading the news yesterday and this morning on the case of certain contractors accessing Obama's passport records and the firing of certain individuals involved. What was really interesting to me, as we consider the case as it has been reported, is that the individuals involved had the correct access levels to get this information. So in technical parlance they had been authenticated to the system, they were authorized to access passport records, but it was a business policy that was violated -- no data access for non-official business

I wonder how many businesses have not even considered this a potential risk and compliance issue? The good news is that with Sun identity offerings and our latest product Sun Role Manager we can help customers address these needs.

 Update: Now it seems that it is all candidates... I wonder what else these contractors were doing? Mmmm...


Monday Mar 10, 2008


I have just returned after spending 3 fantastic days at our Customer Advisory Council, in Florida. Let me start by saying how humbled I was that very senior executives would take 3 days out of their excruciating schedule to be away from family and their jobs to meet with us. Thanks just doesn't do justice to the gratitude and respect we at Sun have for these invaluable customers.

We covered a lot in these 3 days, from product roadmaps and tactical plans to strategic directions and portfolio gaps. We had some really frank discussions that cannot be captured in this blog, but I thought it might be interesting to discuss the trends I saw at this meeting...

  • Open Source -- Every customer is committed to open source, not because of any religious zeal, but rather that this is the way that adoption occurs. They see, like Sun does, that open source is a means to an end. By open sourcing products it increases their adoption by users, partners and perhaps more significantly for this audience by service providers that will be doing more and more coding. It really is about building a robust and thriving community that will increase adoption and knowledge of the product. For the customer this is key to them finding resources that know and can use the product.
  • Paying for Open Source -- every customer at the CAC without exception wanted to pay for the open source offering for support. Not for simple "brake-fix" support, but for patch support and indemnification. They saw Sun standing behind the product and being there 24x7 to help them with any problem they had as a huge value add.   This was additional proof that the open source strategy that we at Sun have embarked upon is the winning strategy. Those vendors who ignore the open source trend will be left behind polishing that proverbial proprietary apple till it is rotten inside.
  • Offshore Development -- another interested trend. Most of the customers used offshore development for coding. They either used Sun's, another service provider or their own skilled resources as architects for their product, but they used or wanted to use "cheaper" resources for coding.
  • Information Risk Management -- every customer had either already deployed or where in the process of deploying an identity solution. The acquisition that we just did of Vaau was particularly interesting on how that bolsters Sun's leadership position in the Governance Risk and Compliance Arena.
  • Consolidation -- most of the customers were in the process of consolidating data centers to simplify operations and reduce costs. Sun's new xVM strategy was very interesting since it allows not just consolidation but increased utilization.
  • Service Oriented Architecture -- All customers had embarked down a SOA route, but few viewed this as a technology issue. They really viewed it as a new way of development (or perhaps a new discipline that created reusable services) The hype of SOA had not influenced their development, indeed some of them had not even implemented an Enterprise Service Bus (like OpenESB) but were ensuring that point to point SOA integration occurred. Others had gone further down the SOA route, but only when there was distinct business benefit.
  • Buying Stacks not Point Products -- Another interesting trend that again validates Sun's strategy is that most of these customers were sold on Sun's products to fix a particular problem, be it Single Sign-on, Identity Management, Single Customer View and the like, but they bought into Sun's application infrastructure they purchased Java Enterprise System (JES). The JES model and philosophy of simple pricing, the sum is greater than the parts, and complete stack is what made the deal.
  • Vendor Assessment=Replacement! -- Some vendors go into their customers and make them spend endless hours and resources documenting where software is being used and how many licenses they are bough. They are really like vultures hoping that they can extract a few more dollars from their customer base. Luckily at Sun we don't do this, and it was this exact practice that inspired the JES model of simple subscription pricing. What was enlightening is that as soon as a vendor starts this assessment the customer looks for ways to replace them. Why waste time with a "vulture vendor"

There was much more that we learned from this invaluable event, but unfortunately a lot of it cannot be shared on a public blog, but rest assured that the advice and direction given will find it into our products and our strategy... Thanks again to our customers for giving us the opportunity to listen.

Sunday Mar 09, 2008

Job Change

I cannot believe that I have not blogged at all this year, and for those still subscribed to the blog I have committed the classic blog error of non-posting. But just like falling off a horse the best course of action is get back on the horse.

My job has changed quite a lot since my last post, I have taken over the marketing around Sun's infrastructure (aka Middleware) products. I am sure I will still muse over OpenOffice and the incredible surge of adoption of this product, but my focus will naturally shift into middleware and where the industry is going.

I am hoping you will enjoy this ride into Software Infrastructure as much as I enjoy this new responsibility

Thursday Dec 13, 2007

Must have upgrades to Microsoft Office...

I was just catching up on Erwin's blog on OpenOffice, and wow.. what a ton of great information there, but it got me wondering what to give those friends of ours that are still using Microsoft Office? I am sure we could all get them OpenOffice, but what if they aren't quite ready for that yet? Well I think the following two extensions are a must!

  1. ODF Plugin: With the Dutch being the latest government to endorse ODF, our friends need this plugin to make sure their proprietary formatted documents can be converted to ODF and used around the world. It seems that if you are going to work in almost any field these days, the ability to read .doc files is something that cannot be taken for granted , and it is being phased out. ODF is the open standard filling this void.
  2. Presentation Minimizer: In one of my prior posts I discussed this new extension that puts OpenOffice presentations on a diet, but it also works with PowerPoint! Yes, give this extension (it is free) to your PowerPoint buddies, and they can make their presentations much smaller. My limited tests show about a 50% reduction in file size, but one comment about the Presentation Minimizer has "I just compressed 60 MB Powerpoint down to 3 MB - that's cool."

Friday Dec 07, 2007

Put OpenOffice on a Diet...

If your StarOffice or OpenOffice presentation files keep getting bigger and you are looking for a way to reduce the size of the files you just have to download the Sun Presentation Minimizer. It is fully compatible with OpenOffice 2.3 and StarOffice 8.

Let me know what you think of it after giving it a try...


My Opensource Beer Dream

What do dreams tell you? 

Either I am stressed at work or this dream really has some deep meaning that I cannot fathom, but honestly here is my dream from last night!

I had two bottles of beer, both looked really similar -- one was labeled and the other had no label. In discussing the beers around the camp fire, the unlabeled beer was "opensource beer" the other was "Mark's Beer" What was the difference? Well both beers had used the same recipe but my beer was better tasting! (Hey this is my dream OK!) In discussing it around this camp fire we all agreed that mine was better, and the reason for it was simple, although both beers used the same recipe it was the craftsman (Me in my dream) that used their expertise to craft a better tasting beer.

When I woke up, I was thinking whether this insight was correct?


  • Selling products based on opensource projects only makes sense if you add some value over and above the base project (in the dream example the ingredients didn't change, just probably how I processed the ingredients)
  • Even though there was one recipe there are many derivatives possible based on how we all interpret the recipe

Then I started wondering whether this dream analogy really had legs?

  • Wouldn't we all band together and add our process pieces into the opensource arena so we could all derive benefit? Maybe, but RedHat, Ubuntu, et. al. don't seem to do that...

OK, I for one, have no idea, so I thought I would share this dream with you all and see if any dream readers out there could enlighten me, on what my dream really means!



Musings from Mark Herring at Sun...


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