Dibbler's Net

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Is the Sun shining once more ?

From the NY Times Story it looks like IBM buyout of Sun is off the table. With that comes new rumors of Cisco, HP or Dell buying the company. The question is why ? Looking at the quarterly statements I don’t see where Sun is going to go bankrupt. They are showing growth in their hardware business since last year which is based on the fact that Sun hardware is now cost comparable to their competition and in some cases the hardware is better. Sun also introduced ZFS for fie systems. With this they introduced their new storage line. I have seen enough storage products to say that this is something Sun has done right and done very well. Now give them time to capitalize on these items. Any competitor that wants to buy Sun right now is doing it to end competition with them not to enhance or grow these products.

So now is the time where I end the Fanboy bit above. Am I a die hard Fanboy that believes Sun can do no wrong ? Of course not. Any large company will have problems and will have issues. However I am a technical person. I like the software and hardware. I am also all about the most bang for the buck. When people ask why I am using a Sun server and OS over windows and VMware it’s an easy argument based on cost. The HP, or Dell server may be marginally cheaper but then you have software costs. The OS, along with VMware is a massive initial and ongoing cost compared to Solaris OS and LDOM’s with Zones. Where I am the fanboy is in the people and the pricing. For a majority of products Sun charges either nothing, or a flat cost fee. This is the software purchase structure I believe in. As someone who has written and sold software I have always despised the user based or CPU based pricing model. The software takes a set number of hours to code and then maintain, why does the number of users I have or the cpu’s in the box change the cost ? I would really like if software vendors would end this charade. The sales technique they are working on is that if you have more users or CPU’s then you have more money so give them more. How we as consumers ever allowed this cost cycle to exist in software is beyond me. But that is what bothers me most about many other vendors and what I find relaxing about buying from Sun. It reminds me of how small software companies work that don’t have lawyers for sales reps. When I buy my tv I don’t get charged for how many people live in my house and are going to watch it so why is software so drastically different ?

Innovation is the other area where Sun in many ways reminds me of Google. One of the few large companies out there where I see new ideas coming out. New hardware and software that is truly new in design and thinking. Got some time, go read up on ZFS and the drastic changes to thinking it really is when talking about disk formatting. It’s what Microsoft wanted it’s new file system to be but they never figured that out. When you look across the Sun hardware line going back 2 years you see real changes not the same chasis with bigger hard drives that you see from the others. Why is it that Google, Sun, and Apple have figured out how to innovate and in reality motivate their consumers and so many other companies have failed so horribly. I am happy to hear that for a little while at least Sun will not be changing and the many employees there can continue with the good work they are doing.

The last part is that of corporations and how they are harming us. Growing up everyone’s parents worked at a company and had done so for 10,20,30 years. Companies actually lasted and people believed in their name and legacy. It saddens me how now companies are nothing more than colored cards when playing life. They are a commodity traded by the CEO’s and with names that change a day after bad news hits. What happened to a company being a business for the right reasons. A business is something where you are there to serve your customers, produce happy employees, and be a partner in your community, state, country and world. The sham of an individual investor having any part to do with a company, and a company having any respect for it’s investors is just sad. Many people say that as a generation ages they always complain that the next generation lacks respect. This is a strange time where to me our elder generation and their abuse of the companies they manage is a far worse disrespect than the kid who forgets to say thank you.


Posted by derrick in • BloggingNewsPersonalUnix
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Friday, April 03, 2009

Open letter to Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz (don’t kill Sun)

If the WSJ and other reporting outlets are to be believed then Monday may be the last day of SUN as we have known it. This is an incredibly sad rumor if IBM does buyout Sun. When I first started in computers I was surrounded by IBM with AIX, OS2, and mainframe’s. Over time we saw more Sun systems make it into the corporate world. Over the years I have worked on just about every variety of Unix made. 10 years ago this story wouldn’t have surprised me and might have made sense. However in the past 5 years Sun has really turned around and has become a company of real innovation and growth. Almost daily I visit blogs.sun.com and click on all to scroll through what’s new from an employees perspective. Sun has been continually releasing new software with the new mindset of free or opensource with cost for support, training, or enterprise features. This seems to be working well for them. My fears are similar to what I saw when Symantec bought Veritas. At the time Veritas was king of the hill on many levels of the datacenter. Then when Symantec bought them we saw features drop, employees let go, and the product line ransacked to the point of being a joke. There is no doubt in my mind that if IBM buys Sun we will see the parts that IBM wants folded in and the other 2/3’s be dropped along with the strong talent that Sun has working for them. With the release of opensolaris, free virtualization in both zones and LDOM’s, and a low or no cost software baseline that covers almost every aspect of enterprise needs, there is just nothing that IBM can bring to the table. Sun has been making large leaps in their hardware options as well, becoming highly competitive with almost all other computer makers for the business market. IBM stopped innovating long ago and instead has stuck to a profit line of over charging for old software and weak service.

I don’t see the benefit of this buyout. In the past 5 years I can’t think of any real benefits that have come from the two large company buyout story. It makes sense when the large company buys the small new technology company. That is usually done to help put resources behind a good idea trapped in a small company. However in the cases of large companies it’s more of one company wanting a small part of the other large company and mainly wanting the customer base. There is a big issue with this thinking. IBM and Sun are both large companies that customers already know of. If customers wanted to buy from IBM they would already be customers. Buying the competition does not mean you will get the customers, it only means you will have them for about a year or two as they move to find a new vendor that will meet their needs and not try to buy them.

For the last week I have been thinking about this story, each day I think of another part of Sun that I will miss. I don’t know which vendor will come in to pick up the pieces but in the end I see this as just putting IBM in a more dangerous financial situation and will bring about the conversations about how Sun used to be much like we talk about how UUNet used to be. I have no belief that this comment of mine will make any difference and I was really hoping that this rumor turns out to be false but at this point I have accepted the rumors as true and have started to think about what vendor will I be moving to next. I use Sun hardware and software every day and I will miss the amazing people and the products. Hopefully IBM will not destroy the Sun image and will let it die peacefully but somehow I doubt it.

Sun I will remember you for the company I have known for 20 years. I have seen you beat IBM toe to toe, I have watched you truly morph into a company that had to change to stay alive, and now just when it seems that you are finding your new place in the world it looks like you will be sold, stripped, and left for scrap on the side of the road. To all those Sun employees who I have met and work with I wish you the best and hope that you will land softly. I truly predict that if this purchase goes through we will see 2/3 of the employees let go in the first 2 years and the Sun that we know today will be dead in 3 years. I hope that this doesn’t happen and that this turns out to be a bad rumor but I gave up on lofty dreams in the business world many years ago.

Sun - Feb 24, 1982 to April 6, 2009. Rest in Peace, You will be missed but not forgotten. Timeline


Posted by derrick in • BloggingPersonalUnix
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Friday, January 30, 2009

A defaultrouter for Zones

Virtualization is the next big thing that we have already done before (think mainframe’s and clock sharing). Sun Solaris has 2.5 versions (Zones and LDOMS) of this that I have been working with a lot lately. When your looking for quick application isolation but full resource sharing and control you use Solaris Zones. The one big issue I had that kept causing me problems was that of routing. If I created a zone that was not on the same subnet as the global zone I had routing issues. Now Sun said you could add multiple entries to the /etc/defaultrouter file but that just didn’t work well. You still needed to have the global zone have an IP on the other subnet or do some more interesting interface tricks to make it work sometimes. Finally with Solaris 10/08 Update 6 they have added a new option. In your zonecfg file you can now specify defrouter as part of the network config portion. This made me smile for a couple of reasons. One it fixed one of the biggest issue I had with zones and usability.  Second it was the fact that this was an issue for a relatively short time period before we saw a fix in the main baseline. It’s because of the opensolaris project and testing that I feel we are seeing these critical fixes and enhancements making it to the commercial baseline so quickly. Thanks to the Sun team and I look forward to seeing more new features soon.


Posted by derrick in • BloggingUnix
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