Sun chooses zero barrier to entry

Sun chooses zero barrier to entry

Summary: Sun has added a new part to its motto "The network is the computer" with the corollary "Zero barrier to entry." Sun reiterated that it is making its entire stack open source over time, and announced that its complete software stack will be free.

TOPICS: Oracle

Sun has added a new part to its motto "The network is the computer" with the corollary "Zero barrier to entry." Sun reiterated that it is making its entire stack open source over time, and announced that its complete software stack will be free. The Java Enterprise System, Sun N1 Management software and array of Sun developer tools will be available for both development and deployment at no cost. Sun also announced the Solaris Enterprise System, adding Solaris 10 to the Java Enterprise distribution. It's a continuation of Sun's adoption of Red Hat's Linux business model and its quest to compete effectively with Microsoft as well as Red Hat as a software infrastrucuture provider. 

"The monetization vehicle is the Java Enterprise and Solaris  Enterprise systems, moving from proprietary Unix or Windows to a free open source system that allows Web 2.0 companies to say they have everything that they need," said Sun President and COO Jonathan Schwartz during a press conference this morning. "The bits are free but not the service or subscription offering. We don't have customers who will use enterprise software without a support contract." Developers or IT shops can go to community forums if they don't want to pay Sun or another firm for support services, but they won't get idemnification, warranties or any urgent care. So far, Sun has about 1 million subscribers for the Java Enterprise System at about $100 per user.

Schwartz has been preaching 'volume wins' mantra for months. He figured that Sun can't win playing the proprietary game, and is gambling on giving away the store, driving volume and figuring out later how to generate revenue. "Developer opportunities always convert to Sun market opportunities," Schwartz said. In Sun's new formula, free software lowers barriers and increases volume and thus attracts developers, who don't typically like to pay for software. The game now is integration and identity, not piece parts like an just have an application server, said John Loicano, Sun executive vice president of software, referring to the pre-integrated end-to-end stack.

The Sun executive referred to the 3.4 million downloads of Solaris 10 as evidence of the viability of the software giveaway. "We've learned from the success with Solaris--it's gone from the back burner to front burner and now it's boiling a lot of water."  

Sun's future boils down to more than competing in the free software stack zone. It has a well regarded stack, but up to now hasn't put IBM, BEA or others on the ropes. More enterprises will be looking to install a pre-integrated stack, and Sun has some advantages on that front in being free and unencumbered. Gaining traction is partly a cultural issue, as it is in the utility computing space, which Sun is also trying to crack. Ultimately, Sun has to sell megatons of infrastructure hardware along with the zero barrier to entry software infrastructure distribution to deliver the goods... 

Topic: Oracle

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  • Linux is looking more and more like the poorer cousin.

    I know that may draw flames from the Linux zealots but guys there simply is no comparing them now. Solaris as open source wins hands down and is NOT encumbered by the GPL and that means a LOT to developers, toss indemnification on top of it and it's a slam dunk.
    • At the moment that is not true

      And that's simply because there is no simple precompiled CD install disk for OpenSolaris, and the build and install process is a bit much even for a seasoned Linux pro. At least with Red Hat/Fedora and SuSE you have those familiar install CDs with guiding wizards that force you to make a flawless install.

      If (or when) Gentoo's OpenSolaris Portage project ever hits the main tree you can be sure I'll be taking a crack at it, but even Gentoo is a bit much for your average person who has installed an OS before.
      Michael Kelly
      • Truth or fiction?

        >>> no simple precompiled CD install disk for OpenSolaris

        Apart from Scillix, belenix, nexenta, and Solaris Express, that is...
        • No, including those

          Try giving any of those to an average Linux user who has only installed SuSE, Mandriva, or Fedora and see how far they get before they say "Is it really worth all this?".

          Any of those that you install on a hard drive as a primary or dual boot OS would take at least a day's time to install for a first timer, and that's the smart first timers. The LiveCD's are interesting and good if you just want a compile environment or something to play around in, but not for an actual workstation.
          Michael Kelly
      • How hard could it be?

        I know that the first time I did a BSD installation, it was not a pretty sight. I've never installed a Linux (I correct myself: I did install Slackware Linux around 1995, got it installed, but didn't want to figure out how to recompile the kernel to get my sound card to work, and I have some Linux Live CDs waiting for me to play with at my house), but FreeBSD most certainly did not have any "simple wizards". It had a mostly comprehensible text-GUI for disk setup and to choose which packages to install, but that was it. I will say this though: the documentation was first rate. It took a decent understanding of a wide variety of topics to make sense of the documentation, but FreeBSD also doesn't aim itself at the *Nix novice crowd either.

        If OpenSolaris is on par with FreeBSD in terms of installation, it is definitely a "server room only" OS. I have not looked at the documentation for OpenSolaris yet, but I may in the near future, as I am considering wiping/reinstalling that FreeBSD server, or possibly putting up a *Nix server at my office to handle the mundane tasks that I don't feel like trusting our Windows 2003 server with, like email.

        On the other hand, if OpenSolaris expects me to be intimately familiar with GCC compile-time options, and the other voodoo arts of *Nix administration 1994 style, then no, I will not be using it. I've always felt that a system that I need to learn "too much" (no defining line there) to get setup is a system that will end up being setup wrong.

        Justin James
        • It's not impossible, but...

          ...we're comparing it to Linux distros which take 20-30 minutes to install with little or no underlying knowledge of how on OS works.

          I did download the binary version of OpenSolaris (Solaris Express) a few weeks ago figuring "Hey, I have a few extra gigs on my hard drive and a couple hours to spare so why not?", but when I started reading the install notes I realized just how involved it would be to get a working GUI workstation, so I backed off knowing I wouldn't have the time. Now if (or when) OpenSolaris shows up on the Gentoo Portage tree (since I know that's in the works), that'll make it much easier for a Gentoo nut like me, because even though the compile time will be measured in days, I am familiar enough with Portage that I know I can spend 20 or so minutes at a time when I'm needed to move it along and the rest of the time sort of "set it and forget it", so the total amount of my time needed will be an hour and a half at most.
          Michael Kelly
    • I don't think you've got a credible position here

      Solaris is just not going to take over from Linux. What Sun could do is make an Xbox/mac-mini-u-like home/office PC running some a reasonably fast low thermal emission CPU, and run looking glass, staroffice, for a nice home/office/home-office machine. For surfing the web, watching internet TV, email, pictures, watching DVDs, organising MP3s, etc etc.
      I suggested this in talkbacks before. Pity no-one at Sun reads and understands my wisdom hey noax?
      (I had an older Sun at home for a while, but the screaming SCSI drives made working on it relatively unpleasant compared to Macs/PCs).
      I'm sure they could make a nice XBox/mac mini-u-like though, they're great with hardware.
      • Look at the developers sighning up.

        Open Solaris is signing up developers faster than any OS ever has in the past.
        • what are the figures?

          I guess you know them before making the comment?
    • so what

      It doesn't matter. There is lots of room in the market for both Linux and Solaris. What's important about Solaris is it's Unix, it's open source, and it's not Windows. More power to it.
  • "We lose money on everything we sell."

    "Then how do you stay in business?"

    Mr. Schwartz has taken this brilliant sales pitch to heart:

    He figured that Sun can't win playing the proprietary game, and is gambling on giving away the store, driving volume and figuring out later how to generate revenue.

    Business plans rarely involve "giving away the store." At least since the time of the dot coms. As you recall, the lesson learned at that time was "Nobody earns money giving away their main product for free."

    Unless, of course, his scheme includes getting many people depending on the software and then forcing them to carry ads.
    Anton Philidor
    • Always got a laugh from that one...

      If they lose $5 on each product they sell, volume just makes them go out of business faster. :)

      Justin James
      • That reminds me of an old SNL parody commercial

        It's basically about a change bank, all they do is make change for you. They'll break a ten into 10 ones, two fives, one five and 5 ones, whatever you want and always exactly how you want it. How did they earn money? Volume.
        Michael Kelly
    • That sounds exactly like the Xbox business-model (n/t)

      Jens T.
      • If games weren't sold you'd be right. (NT)

        Anton Philidor
        • But Sun DOES sell "games" too ...

          [i]"The bits are free but not the service or subscription offering.
          We don't have customers who will use enterprise software
          without a support contract."[/i]

          I don't know how many copies of "Halo" (read: Service) they have
          to sell before they can recoup the losses from the hardware, but
          that's up to the companies' beancounters to figure out.
          Jens T.
      • The same could be said of many consoles

        I think that was a big issue when the PS2 first came out, that the MSRP was $299 and it cost about $500 per unit to make. The hardware is typically a loss leader in this sort of market; they count on people buying enough games to cover their losses. So, essentially they're investing $200+ into each unit, hoping to make a return when the customer buys software.
        Third of Five
  • Zero barrier might still be too high

    Give me $10 I might install it.

    Seriously, Debian has just got a graphical installer.

    Ubuntu, which I think is an easy-to-install debian is the most popular.

    Linspire is great.

    Even Hurd has a booting Live-CD now, and so has Minix3 (yes it's still around).

    Solaris to me is just another kernel. Most of the other stuff like Firefox, KDE, OpenOffice etc etc runs on all Unix-like platforms, and many on Windows.

    So what advantage has Solaris kernel got over FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Darwin, Linux?
    Even if it is Free now, I can't see compelling reasons to adopt it.

    OpenBSD - I like this a lot. unchanging, not a lot supported on it, but that can be a good thing.
    Linux - best for drivers, but more unstable.
    (is devfs in or out?). Mind you maybe I should just use a more stable, older version of the kernel 2.4 or 2.2 over 2.6.