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Sun's embracing of Linux.  BAD MOVE!

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/12/technology/12SUN.html

This is a far cry from selling $30,000 Enterprise 5000 Solaris servers....They should be touting any and all downsides of Linux, instead of turning themselves into a worthless commodity hardware vendor. 




SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 11 — Trying to blunt a growing challenge to the low end of its business, Sun Microsystems plans on Monday to introduce its first computers running the Linux operating system.  The price of the server, which is based on a standard 1.4-gigahertz Intel microprocessor, will begin at $2,795.

Bella
Monday, August 12, 2002

Sun strategy is so flawed, that its days are numbered.

For every Linux system Sun sells, it is going to sell one less Solaris system. Unless they have a better margin on Linux than Solaris, they are screwed.

Someone once said, "If you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys."

Prakash S
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Actually Sun has been selling Linux systems since they bought Cobalt a couple years ago, and they are probably thinking that since they are losing sales to Linux no matter what, they might at least sell the Linux systems themselves.

It is very hard to get a company used to having a big profit margin per unit to survive with a lower one, so they are probably not going to be able to make it. On the other hand, since the 'lower end' is always getting higher thanks to Moore's law, ignoring Linux is not likely to be a good idea either.

As for "touting any and all downsides of Linux", if that kind of thing worked, would anyone be using Windows?

Andres
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Perhaps Sun are being realistic.

Hardware will become a commodity, no fighting it.  IBM tried and failed, and they had serious resources.  Commodore tried it, and they had superior technology (at the time).

Perhaps Sun realise the cash cow is dieing, and are preparing for the inevitable.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Prakash S: "For every Linux system Sun sells, it is going to sell one less Solaris system."

No, for every Linux system Sun sells, someone else is going to sell one less Linux system.

BC
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Sun has been pretty consistent about its failure to capitalize on the genius of its engineers.  So, in one sense, this is nothing new. 

In the end, all things are commoditized.  MSFT has artfully staved this off for their part - mostly through monopoly power.  But eventually, just like the phone companies of yore, the end will come.

Solaris had its days in the sun, if you want to say goodbye, this is your last chance before the nurse disconnects the iron lung.

Nat Ersoz
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Evidently most of you *don't* use Sun servers. We have several dozen high-end SUn servers and wouldn't think of replacing them with Linux boxes, even if it were possible (Linux *doesn't* scale to 16 processors and 32 gigabytes of RAM per machine).

We have considered switching some of our display (non-compute intensive) servers and workstations over to Linux (or NT...). If Sun has a low-end (and cheaper) Linux box that can be included in our current support contract, it will get serious attention.

Sun will be in trouble when Linux scales to the same sort of high end systems that Sun's high-end (and hig profit margin) servers do. Since Linus doesn't have plans for this for Linux 4.5/6, it'll be some time before the big margin products are hurting.

jeff
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I agree with Jeff.

Most people's experience with computing is on 4 proc or less boxes.  Anybody can play on that playground, it is when you get past 8 processors that things get interesting.  All these Linux heads shouting about how commercial Unix is at the end of the line, haven't realized that the penguin can't quite carry the load yet.  Believe it or not, some people (data centers) like to scale up, not out.

Currently, if you believe in tpc benchmarks, SQL Server owns all the small database non-clustered, but can't compete in larger databases.  Why?  Because Windows is not 64 bits and they can't load enough ram.  AWE is a joke compared to true 64 bit.  If Windows/Intel/AMD can come up with a good 64 bit mix they might displace Unix at the high end.

Data centers will be in no hurry to switch from their high end Suns until, if ever, Windows gets to 64 bit.  The switch to Linux would be more likely, but how many years until Linux scales like UNIX? 

ryan ware
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

It won't be as long as you think until Linux gets traction in the data center.  SMP architectures don't scale nearly as well as grid architectures, and Linux has a number of existing kernel (and library) level software items that let it mix grid- and cluster-computing models in a way that neither Solaris nor Windows seems capable of yet.

Chris Woodard
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

That seems to be the standard reply - throw a lot of boxes at it.

Well, our data center is bursting now - we couldn't add the number of boxes it would take to replace our high-end machines.

Also, cluster/grid computing usually requires re-writing an application to take advantage of it. That isn't going to happen in this economy.

jeff
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

> As for "touting any and all downsides of Linux", if that kind of thing worked, would anyone be using Windows?

Clearly, the market sees more upside than downside.

Bella
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Linux users keep saying "but just wait until the NEXT version! It will have everything you'll ever need by then!" This assumes that other operating systems are static. Linux is over ten years old and each new version has promised desktop and server dominance, yet we're still talking about Solaris and Windows.

Zwarm Monkey
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

"Evidently most of you *don't* use Sun servers. We have several dozen high-end SUn servers and wouldn't think of replacing them with Linux boxes"


"Trying to blunt a growing challenge to the low end of its business,"

Everyone knows Linux and Solaris are NOT interchangable, particluarly on the high-end scalability side.  Fortune 500's are not going to run mission-critical enterprise wide systems on Linux.  The point was simply that they should not compromise their low-end sales, like departmental email and webservers, just to get their hands in the measly $2500 server market.  Businesswise, it's best to just trash the entire concept of Linux on all levels.  How much of Sun's clientlist COULD use Linux for its needs?  5%?  50%?  That's the market they should worry about. 

Bella
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

"The point was simply that they should not compromise their low-end sales, like departmental email and webservers, just to get their hands in the measly $2500 server market."

And let IBM continue to eat them alive at the low end with Linux and then upsell their bigger boxes through the organization. IBM used to try to ignore the low end and was losing sales of thir higher-end servers because of it. They re-thought that and have started eating into Sun's business. They (IBM) is now getting into pure Sun shops at the low end - do you think they'll stop there?

If Sun doesn't enter the low end, they will end up being a marginal player even at the top end.

jeff
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I thought they gave Linux to customers who ask for Linux - giving your customer what they want is better than the alternative <g>. I know people who still see Windows as only a desktop O/S.

name witheld by request
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

So they are supposed to ignore Linux and the reputation it's gaining as a cost effective alternative? They can prosper from Linux on the low end just like IBM.

They have the hardware to distinguish themselves at the high end, but they can't ignore MS and IBM's low end alternatives. Especially in this time of fiscal conservation. Those measly $2500 server sales add up when you are selling them ten at a time preconfigured via the web then charging cosultation fees to set them up and repair them when necessary. It's a proven model I think.

I say it's just another way to diversify their business while gaining the respect of the development community that they rely on to push clients to their hardware. Plus this helps their "evil empire" PR spin against the MS. By supporting an open source OS they are showing they want to work with the development community.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Bella, slamming Linux seems to be a losing strategy.  It merely makes people interested in their competitors.  Do you offer an improvement on a long-term losing strategy?

anon
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

From Kent Pitman:
"I have a personal rule of thumb (that still needs a pithy title) that says that when a high end market leader goes head to head with a low end market, the low end market leader will generally win out...  Certainly that's what happened here, anyway."
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&newwindow=1&safe=off&selm=sfwadnwzk8i.fsf%40shell01.TheWorld.com

This theme pops up often, but I don't know if this is deep or Obvious.

Sammy
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

"If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use? Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens?"
-- Seymour Cray (1925-1996), father of supercomputing

ryan ware
Thursday, August 15, 2002

Will the chickens evolve faster than the strong oxen?  And is the field the size of my bathroom?

anon
Thursday, August 15, 2002

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