Schwartz: Sun is world's largest open source company

It's not clear if IBM is thinking about buying Sun. But one thing is clear: Sun execs are out selling it as the "largest" open source company in the world.

It's not clear if IBM is thinking about buying Sun. But one thing is clear: Sun execs are out selling it as the "largest" open source company in the world.

In a series of blogs written this week, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz claimed that Sun's open source business -- software and related services -- is now worth more than $1 billion.

"All in/all up, our software business is among the fastest growing businesses at Sun," said Schwartz, who posted Sun's latest financial summary with the blog. "We span network identity (built with the OpenDS community), application infrastructure (built with Glassfish and OpenESB), data management (built with MySQL, ZFS and Lustre), embedded software (such as Java, and the emerging JavaFX), alongside our core operating system and virtualization software (Solaris, OpenSolaris and VirtualBox)," Schwartz pointed out.

"These open source platforms generate, alongside the services attached to them, over a billion dollars a year, making Sun by far and away the world's largest open source software company."

Schwartz said there are more than 10,000,000 SQL users worldwide and insisted that Sun's crown jewel -- Java -- generates profit, to the tune of $250 million this year.

Sun's CEO also maintained that free software -- including Microsoft's Windows -- is driving the free market.

".... the Internet's most valuable brands are all free - Amazon, Google, EBay, Skype, Yahoo!, Facebook, Hi5, MySpace, Baidu, TenCent, etc. Those brands reach more and have greater affinity than just about any other consumer brands," Schwartz wrote. "And in the technology marketplace, Linux, Java, MySQL, Firefox, Apache, Eclipse, NetBeans, OpenOffice.org, OpenSolaris, the same applies - free is a universal price, requires no currency translation, and reaches the longest tail of the market.

"Microsoft's the only company I didn't include in the above list - and although I consider them a stupendously great brand, they're the only company that can really approximate free while making money on the distribution of their products. The fact is they're bundled on almost every PC across the planet, and appear free to the users who use those PCs - they've amassed immense power with their distribution, and few users believe they're paying for Windows when they buy a personal computer. Thus, to developers (Sun's target market) with Windows PC's, Microsoft's product are, in effect, already free ... This is exactly why we freely distribute our key software assets all over the world - if we didn't, users and developers might pick someone else's free product (or simply use the one they assume to be free."

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