Interpreting Sun's behavior

Interpreting Sun's behavior

Summary: I have to admit, I was amused at Jonathan Schwartz's latest blog entry ("Interpreting IBM's behavior") where he complains that IBM is not being supportive of Sun's attempts to gain more customers in the financial industry:But what's been really interesting is noticing who's not necessarily been so supportive of helping us drive more opportunity with our financial services customers: IBM.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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I have to admit, I was amused at Jonathan Schwartz's latest blog entry ("Interpreting IBM's behavior") where he complains that IBM is not being supportive of Sun's attempts to gain more customers in the financial industry:

But what's been really interesting is noticing who's not necessarily been so supportive of helping us drive more opportunity with our financial services customers: IBM. Yup, IBM's deployed in a number of customer accounts we share, and with the rapid uptake of Solaris 10 in early access, some customers have been running into dependencies - from MQSeries to Tivoli, Rational to DB2 - that stand in the way of their deploying Solaris. What's IBM's stance on Solaris 10? "There's no demand." Please. We know groups of our customers have called in directly to IBM seeking Solaris10 porting dates - and heard the same story, "you're the only customer that wants it."

...Come on, IBM, you've got nothing to fear - Solaris is open source, it's cross platform. It's even indemnified. And here's some free advice: you can't lock customers in. They always, always, have a choice. Personally, I wouldn't tempt them to exercise it.

Wouldn't this be a bit like Linus Torvalds complaining that Microsoft hasn't been supportive of the Linux push for the desktop? Mind you, Schwartz is complaining about a lack of support for a product that hasn't even been released officially. Sure, you can download Solaris 10 preview releases, but the final Solaris 10 OS hasn't gone out the door yet.

And Schwartz mentions that Solaris is "open source," by which I assume he means it will be open source, since Sun has yet (to my knowledge) to have officially announced the license for Solaris 10 or have it formally approved by OSI. And "cross-platform," of course, means that it runs on x86 and Sun's Sparc processors, but not IBM's Power processors. Perhaps IBM and Sun can strike a deal: IBM will port DB2 when Sun ports Solaris 10 to Power chips.

It's also amusing to hear Sun execs complain about "lock out" when they've long refused to provide documentation for the OpenBSD project to port to their UltraSparc III chips, and when they can simply revoke licenses to the Java source code. (I tried, in vain, to get someone from Sun on the record about that issue, but they politely declined to even provide a rep to discuss their general policies about working with Java.) If Sun execs wish to invoke the "we're open source" argument in public, perhaps they should learn to play well with the open source community before doing so.

Schwartz does make the case for open source, though perhaps unintentionally. So long as one company controls the source code to any given application, they can deny access. If Sun's potential customers were using open source apps rather than the proprietary stuff from IBM, Sun could see to it that those apps were ported to Solaris 10 on their own dime, rather than asking IBM to invest R&D dollars to ensure that Sun can encroach on IBM's market. I'm not saying that the open source alternatives are quite ready to replace IBM's proprietary apps, (I'm not saying that they aren't, either) but perhaps it would be to Sun's best interest to invest their dollars in getting them up to speed, rather than expecting their competitors to level the playing field for them.

Topic: Open Source

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