Competing Against A Social Movement

It’s tough to compete against a social movement. Especially one in which you’re a believer. That’s what Sun’s been facing for the past few years when it comes to Linux. Linux represents all the ideals we’ve
espoused for decades: openness, freedom, innovation, even open source (remember, Sun was started with open source). And I believe that those ideals cross political boundaries (Mr. Lohr and I disagree).

But the past three years have been tough at Sun – we’ve been on defense against competitors coopt-ing that social movement against us. The economic distress experienced by our core markets (telco and financial services) started the storm clouds. But that was coupled by our hesitation (more on that in a later blog) to support Solaris on Intel or AMD microprocessors – a hesitation that left customers wanting to deploy x86-based systems with only two choices: Microsoft’s Windows, or ‘linux.’ Given the latter’s (deserved) popularity, coupled with a precipitous drop in telco and financial services budgets, it was easy (especially for HP and IBM) to say ‘Linux is responsible for Sun’s problems.’ We were on defense.

Now, I put linux in quotes (with all deference and respect) because that one word wasn’t just one product – it was, in effect, a reprise of the open source movement on which Sun was founded. And that movement yielded a blizzard of distros. There was (and still is, especially on desktops or clients) no single linux. But if you speak to as many customers as I do, you quickly see that neither they, nor ISV’s can afford to support 100 different distributions in the datacenter.

As is more evident by the day, they’ve largely picked one, Red Hat. And Red Hat’s figured that out. They’ve consistently raised price and tightened licensing to be the most restrictive I’ve seen in the open source world. We’re hearing complaints across the world. And a social movement is morphing into a single company (that’s nicely undermining its partners). History repeats for IBM.

At Sun, as I said, it’s tough to compete against a social movement, especially one in which we all believe. But compete against a single company, Red Hat? Finally. Now that Sun’s Solaris operating system runs on Intel, AMD and Sparc systems, our customers have immense choice. We can deliver our products at a lower price point, we can deliver more and better features, more innovation, legendary security (the national security kind), and far better customer support and responsiveness – maybe not for a developer looking for real-time patches (yet), but certainly for the enterprise looking for an accountable vendor.

So if you’re running Red Hat, and feeling frustrated by their support, exorbitant pricing, or weak security, it’s time to look at Solaris, on any of the more than 200 hardware platforms we support. From HP, Dell, IBM and, of course, Sun (and a host of others). The migration is a very easy one. So is the free download.

And if you’re looking for an open source Solaris, stay tuned there, too. Remember, it’s in our roots.

If you’re an ISV, it’s time to qualify your apps to Solaris running our new Opteron systems, to make sure you tap into the broadscale opportunity we’re beginning to see as we build our way into the $20B x86 server market. It’s all upside for Sun, broadening the reach of Solaris/Sparc into Solaris/AMD and Solaris/Intel – and it’s all upside for you, too.

Frankly, it’s good to be back on offense – with an incredible operating system already familiar to millions of customers, developers and operators. One we’re bringing to the open source community, and one whose roots are in the very social movement we’ve consistently embraced. Freedom is all about choice.

And for those customers that still believe Red Hat (or any other distro) is the way to go – we’re more than happy to deliver the fastest Opteron systems, cheapest storage, and most price/performant middleware to run with it. We’ll run Red Hat faster than anyone out there.

Because at this point, it’s not about the social movement.

Now it’s just business.

Free Solaris 10 Early Access Download Here.

UPDATE: ISVs can check out the Solaris 10 ISV Early Adoption program here..

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