Transparency and the Turning Tide

I just got the first summary download numbers for Solaris 10 since we shipped a week or so ago. One word, “wow.”:


Total Number of Solaris 10 Licenses Downloaded Since First Commercial Ship:

SPARC: 151,039

x64/x86: 269,856

Total: 420,895


An early look suggests we’re not going to have a problem with demand.

I was with a big ISP (internet service provider) prospect yesterday that said, “the only reason we left Solaris was to run x86 on low end boxes. Now that Solaris is there, we’re going back.” I asked how they liked the open source license we worked with the community to draft, and they said “we like the CDDL.” We obviously do, too – and we’d like to see others in the industry adopt it (note: that’s why it’s an open license, not restricted to usage or control by Sun.)

Doing some basic analysis on the numbers, above, suggests the majority of downloads are to non-Sun based hardware (ie, x64/x86). One of the folks in the meeting I mentioned asked me how we felt about what he viewed as “leakage” onto non-Sun hardware. I said, “THAT’S NOT LEAKAGE, THAT’S GROWTH!” We’ve now got a relationship with customers we would never otherwise meet – running Dell, HP, IBM and other hardware. They’re all prospects now. And if there were one knock I heard during our analyst conference a week ago, it was “where’s the growth?” Well, we’ve obviously planted a few more seeds. (Not to mention giving a massive boost to utilization and performance of our newest USIV SPARC systems – and as much as giving free hardware to existing Sun customers: run Solaris 10, retrieve the (average) 80% of your datacenter currently deployed as a space heater (because it’s unutilized).)

Speaking of the analyst conference, it’s been about a week since we had a couple hundred industry and financial analysts in town. The conference was a surprise in a number of ways. First, and this takes some humility to say – after years of brooking no end of harsh criticism, I was surprised to hear how positive the analysts were. Many of them haven’t exactly been our fans over the past couple years – so it was… jarring is the word I’ll use… to have them say “we love the strategy.” I definitely heard (and you will hear, shortly) that the perception tide is turning. My favorite quip came from my last meeting, in which an analyst said, “look, around the hotel bar last night, I heard only positive comments.” Not like I spend a lot of time in hotel bars, but I’m assuming that’s a big change.

The second surprise was being beaten up for (get this) not being vocal enough about our storage offerings – and for not talking more about our newest 6920. Which one analyst said “was one of the hottest offerings in the storage market today.” To the analysts who made this point (you know who you are): please consider this a step toward being more effusive 🙂 More on the 6920 (and why storage, and storage containers/virtualization is going to be the belle of the ball for the next decade) in a later entry.

After we launched the world’s first true computing utility (and an exchange to keep everyone honest), IBM never managed to respond to our head to head offer to compare grids – which Dan quickly pointed out. Again, I truly believe transparency is one of our biggest competitive advantages.

Finally, I’ve been promising myself to stay out of the discussion on open source software licensing, and why we elected to use an open Mozilla-based license for Solaris, vs. something more restrictive. So instead of wading in, and taking a stand on everything from the self-determination of developing nations to the needs of OEM customers, I’ll make only two points.

One, the notion that all free software has to ship under a singular license is like saying all news has to come through one newspaper. Java, Firefox, FreeBSD, Windows, Debian, JBoss and Solaris – The New York Times, The Economist, The Onion, The Register, The Wall Street Journal – prove that there’s value in diversity, not homogeneity. In thought. In speech. And intellectual property licenses.

Second, I agree with RedMonk.

At minimum, 400,000+ downloads proves there are a silent majority of open minds in the world.

Update: and as usual, Simon has more insights on the topic…

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