Sunlight is the Best Informant

I was with a big potential customer yesterday – in the Fortune 100. After a day of briefings from our technical folks, I joined the meeting to see how we were doing. I asked him and his team how much of what they’d seen was new to them.


He said, “about 70% was a complete surprise.”


Ouch. That’s not good.


To test, I asked, “before today, did you know that Solaris was open source, or ran on Dell, HP and IBM hardware, not just Sun’s?” “Nope.”


And like I said, this was a Fortune 100 opportunity.


Despite the ample advice I receive, getting through the din, especially in the world of IT, doesn’t happen with a superbowl ad (can you remember a single one?), or buying every billboard in every town, or every ad word on-line. We know, we measure their effectiveness.


We know the most valued information travels by word of mouth. Through blogs, on-line reviews, or other on-line conversations. Or “kneecap to kneecap,” as we sit across the table from customers in our briefing centers. And frankly, the most valuable information about Sun doesn’t come from Sun, it comes from other customers.


So how do you get the word out if you don’t have a $500M ad budget? To me, it’s not so much about getting the word out, as letting the eyes and ears in. You can tell I’m a big fan of transparency – that’s why I write a blog (with comments on, and yes, I read every one, as do a host of others at Sun). It’s why I encourage others to drive the conversation in the market, as well. Transparency’s at least a part of the solution. If not an outright competitive weapon.


A very wise man once said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” – and in my view, exposing our internals to the outside world also helps us respond to problems more rapidly. True, we have to expose the occasional unhappy customer (I hear this one, in particular, recently became happy), but we expose them to people who can help, too – from within Sun, or within the community. We can’t solve problems we don’t know about. Like the good justice said, sunlight’s a good disinfectant.


Which is why you’ll see something very interesting next week start to appear on Sun’s web pages and throughout our on-line store. You’ll start to see product reviews written by users. You’ll see user defined ratings, right on our products. Just like book or product reviews at Amazon. We’re starting with just a few products, but it’ll ultimately extend all the way up to our highest end enterprise offerings.


What’s the risk? That we’re exposing ourselves to criticism? That we may have on display the fact that one product or another isn’t perfect? (That our competitors may try to rate all our products?)


Nope.


The far bigger risk is that we’d meet another customer surprised by what we had to offer. Unaware that our systems were 5 times as energy efficient as our competitors. That Solaris was free, open source, and available on Dell or HP. Or that Thumper was about to reset the economics of the storage industry.


And to my mind, sunlight’s not just the best disinfectant.


It’s the best informant, too.


From a voice you’ll trust more than ours – your own.

47 Comments

Filed under General

47 responses to “Sunlight is the Best Informant

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    This is my favorite of your blog entries so far! Will the Sun Service Plans be included (at some point) in the products that can be user reviewed?

  2. Peter Frandsen

    I guess a lot of people remember the superbowl Mac ad🙂

  3. After reading this all I can say is WOW. At other companies I have tried to explain why being open is good, but I was always brushed aside as having “crazy” ideas. Now, as a new employee, I find my CEO making some of the same arguments and actually following through on them. All I can say is keep up the good work!

  4. bp

    Speaking about transparency (here on hardware chipsets, through docs) and
    word of mouth, a
    long standing
    and

    well mediatized

    concern that could esasily be addressed has
    just resurged (note: many other systems are affected too)..

  5. I’m a big fan of transparency as well. I think this is good news for Sun. I’m very interested in seeing the product ratings. While Solaris is rock solid for us, the Sparc line of servers and associated service not so much. We have had a higher than what we would consider normal failure rate of System Boards(CPU and Memory) when compared to the other vendors we are using, mainly HP and IBM. That is compounded by very expensive but what has been for us inadequate service. I’m very curious to see what other customers are seeing. As I said the Solaris OS is rock solid, we have never had an issue with the OS. Of course the good thing there is that we can migrate to an Intel/AMD architecture and still use Solaris.

  6. Arcadi Magre

    Jonathan,
    My thoughts and impressions about Sun changed since I am following your blog. It’s good to see your transparency with your (probably unknonw) costumers.
    The only thing I have… Why is Sun much more expensive (in hardware) than other players in the market?.
    At least, that’s my impression…

  7. Dennis Young

    After a week at JavaOne and seeing in-person what a talented company Sun is, and after reading your blog and realizing that Sun also has a leader with real vision who is not just ‘unafraid’ of open source, but sees the the market opportunity –
    I can see it’s time to buy stock.

  8. I’ve seen this problem – lack of awareness of Sun’s products and activities – for years. And not just with prospective customers, but also with Sun customers and Partners. It was one of the reasons that we created “System News for Sun Users” 99 months ago.

    With confidence, I can say that we produce the most comprehensive, weekly news summary for Sun customers and prospects. Few of the 55k people who subscribe to System News would be 70% surprised as was your prospect!

    We designed “System News for Sun Users” so that it could be private labeled by Sun Resellers. After all, many more Sun customers and prospects will be dealing with the Channel that with Sun directly. We keep the promos and articles in the pushed newsletter brief to drive people back to the Partner’s Web site – which we host and track – where more details are available.

    After many years of trying, we have been unable to find someone at Sun who is interested in working with us to use our proven tool or highly-respected content to solve the exact problem your are citing.

    I am looking forward to seeing the changes on the web site next week!

    johnj

  9. Bill P

    Well done Jonathan. I almost snorted coffee out my nose when you mentioned the Joyent/Textdrive blog entry.

    I host with Textdrive and will attest that Jason Hoffman is a genius. I read his (unhappy) blog entry about Sun’s salesforce a few weeks ago and considered sending it your way.

    It may be a surprise to a lot of your readers, but the same guy (Jason Hoffman) is a HUGE HUGE fan of Solaris and especially ZFS. He’s the one who got me interested (again) in Solaris. You won’t find a much better salesman than him.

    (PS – buy one of his ZFS shirts at the Joyent store. It’d make for a good CEO picture). 😉
    All the best to you & to Sun. Your open management approach brings a great deal of hope to me. I want to make my work and my workplace more like what you and 37 Signals espouse (both in your own way of course).

  10. Alex Lam

    Nice & pin-pointed response🙂
    Looking forward to the changes.

  11. Bharath R

    I asked, “before today, did you know that Solaris was open source, or ran on Dell, HP and IBM hardware, not just Sun’s?” “Nope.”
    That pretty much sums up one of Sun’s major problems – markerting (software in particular). I wonder if they’d be able to sell water to a parched traveller in a desert. Trust Sun to come up with a great technology & not know how to market it (remember Jini, anyone?). How else would you explain a fortune 100 customer’s ignorance of the opensourcing of the best Server OS & its availability on X86/64 platfoms?
    (And I’d prefer not to discuss the unimpressive talk that the ill-informed mktg folk dished out at some of the software booths at JavaOne)

  12. [Trackback] Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, continues to set new standards about transparency and word of mouth in the IT…

  13. Dear Mr Jonathan Schwartz, Marvellous! This is the innovative Sun many Sun’s supporters expect! Nonetheless, I have some thoughts to share with you, please bare with me if these sounds dull,
    1. Do not passively provide a review mechanism, actively encourage people to share their ideas about how to make Sun’s products better (this may reduce the possibility of ‘competitors’ spreading negative reviews),
    2. Have a marketing campaign to deliver the message about VALUES of Sun Microsystems. Why does this world need Sun Microsystems? (I am not impressed by those ‘advertising’ films played during the JavaOne). This campaign does not need US$500m! All it has to do is to make all Sun employees able to tell customers without any shame [and arrogance] how Sun will help customers’ needs. Since you are aware of that the referral marketing is what Sun has to work on, please go one more step towards to the influence market. Do not leave us (who loves to promote Sun in the market) no reason to evangelise Sun (e.g., cold response from Sun attributable to careless ‘managers’),
    3. Manage Java as a valuable brand of Sun, not like a good technology which has something to do with Sun, but I do not need Sun at all when exploiting Java technology. Java is a BRAND, not a technology. Make Java something tangible and ‘visible‘ to customers. For example, Sun’s RFID middle-ware is a great application of Jini, but not many people realise it (sadly, not even those Sun people I dealt with; I even had to ‘teach‘ them what Jini is),
    4. Establish a strategic alliance which can benefit each other. Wonder why it was not Sun which provided technology to Nike, but Apple? I do not think it is about iPod. Sun has many interesting technologies which might impress Nike much better than Apple could (imaging RFID transceivers in shoes + an RFID card; calculate historical data and present the workout information to runners without logging in a web site, uploading workout information wirelessly, etc). However, Sun does not realise its core product whilst Apple does [the mindset and capability of making great technologies useful for the rest of us; even the big enterprises’ customers will benefit from Sun’s enterprise solution. Why does Sun only eye on the enterprise customers, but not their end customers? After all, their end customers are the reason those enterprises invest in Sun’s solutions]. Dare I say a strategic alliance with Apple in enterprise solutions? Probably the best way to think outside the box is to think ‘Wouldn’t it be great if…‘ (like Mr Steve Jobs does)
    5. Wouldn’t it be great if Sun’s management becomes more like the management of an open-source project? Actually, this is about what you are doing now. You write blogs, and we provide feedback directly. Of course, it is more than this, I know. However, this may be an interesting start,
    6. Please contemplating if a matrix organisational structure is pragmatic. [please forgive me if Sun does not adopt the matrix structure any more]
    Best wishes to Sun.

  14. [Trackback] Sun CEO and chief blogger Jonathan Schwartz is taking the social media route to help market Sun’s array of products to customers. In his most recent blog post, Schwartz writes:"…the most valued information travels by word of mouth. Through blogs…

  15. [Trackback] Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems today announced that Sun will add product reviews and comments from customers on their corporate website just like CNet and ZDNet.
     Which is why…

  16. Teo

    Jonathon I like what Sun is about but I disagree that word of mouth is the way to sell product. That was fine in the old days, in the modern world word of mouth is no way enough.

  17. David lewis

    At last SUN is realising their sales force and marketing people are doing nothing .
    Technology doesnot sell on its own. M$ is not sucessful because of its great products , it is because of its marketing & Sales force.
    best of technology products are not most sucessful, Apple, Lotus note, .. do we add SUN to the list ..
    Give a wake up call to your sales organisation

  18. tf

    As the prospect who said “70% was new news” I suspect some
    explanation is warranted. I, like most IT professionals, make it my business
    to follow the industry and on a stand-alone technology-by- technology basis 70%
    was not new. What was “new” and most significant to me was the
    overarching strategy to become the digital backend
    “platform” (my word) provider. This would be facilitated by working
    multiple levels of the stack and optimizing the combination of IP
    Network, Systems & Storage, Software (OS), Common Services (JES), RDBMS,
    and “Tools”.

    I had several sidebars with the various speakers and encouraged both a more
    targeted marketing to the various (and often separate in an Enterprise)
    constituencies who own various layers of that stack (on the one hand) but
    importantly a more integrated story (other hand) to more senior IT executives.
    How will the collective capabilities of this optimized platform drive my
    ability to hit the big 4 of my IT vision – Integration, Intelligence,
    Optimization, and Orchestration –
    each of which is an enabler to help my business thrive in a “flat
    world.”

    I find significant soundness in the recent moves to “Open” as a means
    to drive awareness – ultimately can Sun create a winning story that
    the more layers of the stack you use from Sun the more capable, cost-effective,
    etc the platform becomes (“platform” optimum beats the sum
    of “layer” optimums) while at the same time the “Open”
    strategy reduces your risk of being locked in. I would argue Sun is on the
    right track and is in a race to show that they can do the platform”
    integration cheaper, faster, and better than we or other competitors can do it.
    What stands in the way are “layer” focused competitors
    who “may” have a better single layer story and discount the benefits of
    vertical integration.

    To Sun – Good Luck – we’re all watching!

  19. To take the blog analogy one level further would be to give each product Sun makes its own permalink, so that people around the world who want to blog about a product can link to that product, in the way people who want to talk about your blog entry can link to it.
    To help make Sun transparent, every constituent element of Sun should have its own URL. Nothing helps make something visible better than naming it.🙂

  20. Hi Jonathan
    (Sorry, but I’ve just sent you about 3 (because I pressed ‘Post’ to often) comments with a wrong link. Here is the comment with the correct link):

    I’m impressed how Sun acts and wonder if this is the beginning of a transformation in the market (or just an era): Does a company has to act like Sun (transparent and like a peer in a community) to succeed in the next 10 years? I have no answer. But I have created a small cartoon (which has no answer too).

  21. pwl

    “…doesn’t happen with a superbowl ad (can you remember a single one?)”

    of course, the apple mac ‘1984’ ad is the obvious(?) exception… (google video)

    word-of-mouth is all very well, but there are many parts of the world where “presence” is a significant factor, and where appropriately focussed advertising & marketing is vital

    it costs $ yes, but done right, it’s an investment, not a cost

  22. Hi Jonathan,
    Nice to listen that you selected the different media for knowledge transfer that is reviews and blogs.
    Rating is definitely going to be a good idea. Don’t worry about the competitors, they are few, think of users, they are billions🙂.

  23. James Violette

    Exposing yourselves to customer comments reminds me of the cluetrain manifesto…
    http://www.cluetrain.com/
    This essentially says that you cannot prevent people from sharing ideas, so you might as well leverage it.

  24. Marketing is important doesn’t matter if the budget is $500m or $500. People communicated with drums and bugles if they had to if it served their purpose. The leverage Sun has its’ reach in the technical community so they already know who is calling. Scott once mentioned that it is good to tell the customers bad story early than to surprise them late. The acceptance of open source software is wide not because its free but because people know what it can do and what not. The users are aware not only of its’ strength but its’ weeknesses and this allows them to make their conscious decision if they should use it. Opensourcing Solaris is a good step. Sun’s target should be to see if the users who are running Redhat and HPUX are willing to replace’em with Solaris. Don’t worry about Microsoft Windows, Apple will kill it in usability and Linux will by its cost.

  25. As an occasional blogger at Sun, have one quick suggestion: why not also tie in relevant Sun blog sites to the http://www.sun.com site? Not only would you get customer forums on the products, but a chance for people to see the Sun people behind these great products and innovations. One of Sun’s greatest secret’s is the innovative and smart people working here.
    I have to imagine that a propective customer looking up information on a Sun product would be impressed not only by the product data sheet, but by learning about the team that puts out and supports the product. People are more likely to buy into a partner than just a product.
    We already have a blogs.sun.com and http://www.sun.com. Just proposing a simple mash-up between the two sites for relevant bloggers.

  26. Ken Defoe

    I only remember one ingenious SuperBowl ad, and it was by Apple Computer in 1984…a person carrying a sledge hammer runs through a crowded theatre of oppressed people, and throws it @ the movie screen that depicts “Big Brother” to the audience. The message was very clear, buy Apple products, and join the underground rebels intent on breaking the bonds of the totalitarian society. Based on the widely-read book “1984 by George Orwell”.
    We need to break the mold, and advertise out-of-the-box. What we are missing in our ads is that we need to demonstrate the user-experience; otherwise, it’slike describing the transmission, engine, and other components of an automobile…the greatest percentage of buyers don’t care what makes it work, only what can it do for me and my image.

  27. Prince

    There are still people out there that chant “Sun makes costly iron , have proprietoryy OS etc. etc. ” . Those bunch seems to be unaware of galaxy systems, niagara servers , thriving open solaris community etc. It wish good luck to SUN in clearing those views from the market,analysts.

  28. This one is my third favourite blog entry of yours after “The Value in Volume” and “Our Most Valuable Intellectual Property”. I did start working on a business model after reading “The Value in Volume” and I am sure I am inspired by the thoughts of this blog entry to structure my ISV’s way to communicate with customers.
    Having said that, What about the products that you just resell? Those products are in SUN’s price list and are sold on your paper. Would you put those products to same standards of transparency, good quality user documentation, knowledge base and open for review & comments?
    Thanks
    S Dani

  29. Jonathan,
    This should be a good and honest process to identify where our products stand in comparison to our competitors.
    Criticism from the outside is a much better way to get things rolling than from inside in my experience.
    Looking forward to more such well thought out actions to improve our product quality.

  30. I just bought my first Sun SunFire Server and Sun Ultra 20 Workstation. I’m a one-man shop, and every buck counts. I chose Sun because it’s the best hardware. Today I made an entry about Sun in my personal blog that you may find revealing. It’s my personal take on the industry and why Sun is a LEADER, worth supporting.
    Key Summary Points:
    1) Sun still MAKES and DESIGNS CPU’s.
    2) Sun MAKES and DESIGNS an OS still.
    3) Sun is more OPEN SOURCE than anyone else.
    4) Sun does ACTUAL R&D for the ENTERPRISE.
    5) Sun makes DAMN good hardware/software that can SCALE.
    6) Sun is a good World citizen.
    7) Sun’s Java is the Solution to the “tangled” web of devices.
    Anyway, I LOVE my SunFire server. Check my blog for the whole post here: http://www.charliesblog.org

  31. Jonathon, I couldn’t agree more. We recently purchased several Sun X2100/X4100 servers. When I installed Linux on one of the servers, one of my coworkers lamented that I could have bought a Dell instead. He didn’t realize the Sun hardware had better performance (for our DB application), was better priced (shock!), more energy efficient, and overall a more flexible server (Solaris, Linux, Windows all supported). When I showed the IPMI hardware management card in action with N1 System Manager, a lot of my colleagues were impressed and even more amazing is that the software is FREE. (Sun should really offer a test sandbox mode to let users try this out). I think Sun needs to get the message out and dispel the misconception that Sun hardware is expensive and overpriced. Sun hardware isn’t just for running Solaris, it’s rock solid for Linux, and dare I say Windows as well.

  32. Neal Saferstein

    Marketing is important doesn’t matter if the budget is $500m or $500. People communicated with drums and bugles if they had to if it served their purpose. The leverage Sun has its’ reach in the technical community so they already know who is calling. Scott once mentioned that it is good to tell the customers bad story early than to surprise them late. The acceptance of open source software is wide not because its free but because people know what it can do and what not. The users are aware not only of its’ strength but its’ weeknesses and this allows them to make their conscious decision if they should use it. Opensourcing Solaris is a good step. Sun’s target should be to see if the users who are running Redhat and HPUX are willing to replace’em with Solaris. Don’t worry about Microsoft Windows, Apple will kill it in usability and Linux will by its cost.

  33. Jonathan, I used to work on the projects part of looking glass. I gave it up because I got sick of it.

    Instead of building on Gnome like XGL, it totally replaced anything we knew. And developing on that can be a real bummer.

    So that’s my first comment. My next is Java on SPARCIII.

    http://www.deitylinux.com/netra20/

    I have a Netra20 server used from a telecom company. I’m still waiting for a video card on it, but I noticed that if I install our LFS linux or Ubuntu for SPARC, I can no longer use my Java apps because there is no JVM for SPARCIII Linux that I know of.

    This is a real bummer. I will have to port my java apps to mono.

    I know you don’t want java to fragment, and you sued Microsoft over that in 98 with WFC. BUT, mono has not fragmented, so I don’t see what more would happen to java.

    How about GPL, “but only on Linux” license, to keep MS from revisiting WFC, and meanwhile allowing it to be built and bundled with Linux?

    Otherwise I can’t even use Sun’s java language on it’s own Netra 20 hardware. That’s nuts. I’m not going to use Solaris. I am part of the Linux generation. People that simply don’t want to deal with Unix or BSD style compatibility frameworks. Stuff for Linux just works for Linux, even on a Netra.

    Please consider my comments when you either

    A. Build the next JRE and don’t release a SPARCIII Linux build

    B. Consider JPL over GPL.

    That is the reason for the lack of popularity. You’re making people go to sun.com to get it, and the website isn’t all that easy to use, nor is it easy to navigate.
    The constant EULA nags are annoying too.

  34. Adrian

    The x86 version of Solaris should not be neglected. Imagine Solaris in millions of homes…

  35. hello mr Jonathan. I’m not SUN h/w user. perhaps i only use some software that built with JAVA. I think your idea about criticism on SUN product is very good. Your big consumers like company will read other reviews and they will get benefit from the S/W or H/W reviews.

  36. Jonathan, I don’t have much time, since I’m still working on customer projects, but I’m going to break down what I think Sun needs to do to get out of it’s rut.

    1. go to tigerdirect.com and check out the x86 servers, even the x86 servers with 8mb cache. Your hardware is WAY more expensive. I had to shell out +1k US for a used Netra20 with double 900mhz 32 bit cpus, with the eenee weenee 36 mb Sun retractable hard drives for the unit. That’s NOT a deal. The new Sun Fire stuff is just obscene for the specs.
    It’s almost like the Mac pricing model for servers. If I REALLY didn’t want a Sun server for the brand name, there would be no compelling reason to buy one.
    I understand about the telecom and military contracts, but believe me those will disappear too as they realize they can run Linux on anything.
    See this story.
    http://www.technewsworld.com/story/50750.html

    2. Stop fighting Red Hat. Ubuntu and SuSE gained tons of ground on Red Hat. Don’t fight them, simply do a better job than them. Lots of people love Red Hat and Fedora Linux and use Java and other Sun products as well.

    3. Dump the trendy projects like the custom X server with java extensions, ect… and focus on your core products.

    4. Make java easier to redistribute with Linux. Give people an OK that they won’t get sued if they package Sun Java with Linux without having end users agree to an EULA.

    5. The Sun website is stylishly nice, but a pain to use from a non-Sun perspective. You probably don’t notice it because you have always been used to it.

    6. Get brand name recognition by getting large websites to adopt your products. Not just telecom or military. Nobody queries their local telecom carrier about which server or PC is the best.

    7. Get a hair cut😉
    You look like a hippy.

    Recap. Get your brand out there, and make some hardware for common people. The little people that shop on tigerdirect.com and hack out the Linux kernel in their basements.
    Aim for hobbyists and make some FUN, FUN, FUN things on the website for developers to do.
    Embedded projects, ect… Things people can tinker with.

    PS- windoze suckz!

  37. TAG

    Jonathan,
    Solaris 8 was free for Intel long time ago.
    For Solaris 9 Sun decided to charge people.
    Now with Solaris 10 you try to convict us that it’s again free – how can we trust you that version 11 will not change this ?

  38. Jonathan,
    This post has pushed me over the edge…🙂
    I am a Sun employee and I have been wanting to start a blog at blogs.sun.com for a while now… but your experience makes me think that perhaps, starting a blog outside blogs.sun.com will reach a different audience.
    I’ve been following some threads on the Oracle-L list and I was surprised about some misconceptions that some of the members of the Oracle-L community have about Sun and Solaris.
    Here’s my post regarding my experience with the Oracle-L community.

  39. I am taking a few minutes out at work so haven’t time to check all comments right now, so may duplicate.
    I have always felt that having people act as Ambassadors for a company who are out there – making people aware of a product, not selling, as they go about their other roles (i.e. possibly, even preferably, employees of the product company).
    These could be industry figures or customers for whom the product(s) has brought about major benefits.
    Although acting on his own (sort of), so not covering things on a large enough scale for SUN, I have the utmost respect for the outreach programme Buzz Bruggerman is carrying out on a daily basis – as you do yourself Jonathan.

  40. Brandon Colton

    As a drifting blog reader, it was a pleasant surprise to come
    across this recent post discussing transparency and effective marketing. As a
    recent business graduate I find the opportunity to respond to industry leaders
    to be very exiting.

    I would like to expand on a couple of key points that were mentioned in the
    blog.

    And frankly, the most valuable information about Sun
    doesn’t come from Sun, it comes from other customers. You’ll start to see
    product reviews written by users…You’ll see user defined ratings, right on our
    products. Just like book or product reviews at Amazon.

    This is a key statement that really needs to be reciprocated though any business
    and its team. The focus on the customer, and the benefit that is to be provided
    for their needs should remain an ongoing concern.. Having outlets that actively
    seek customer feedback, and respond to feature request, is a completely
    pragmatic approach. However, implementing an effective framework over that
    concept may prove to be the real challenge. There are a couple of good examples
    of companies and methods in use.

    Microsoft is an excellent example of a company that
    is incredibly competitive. Although they are known for adopting many
    competitors’ software models, Microsoft does build upon such models to provide
    added benefit to its end users. In fact, one of their mottos for Internet
    Explorer 7 is WE HEARD YOU. It did take Microsoft a long time to respond;
    however, the bureaucracy of a large corporation over time may have diminished
    their adaptability to respond and anticipate customer needs.
    Ubuntu is arguably one of the best examples of open
    source software that has found a way to connect, communicate, and nurture their
    users. The Ubuntu forums, Wiki’s, and open and honest culture help to form an
    amazing community that influences those that join. In short, they created a
    corporate culture that is extremely transparent, unique, and moreover resonates
    with their users. Take a quick look through Ubuntu’s forums and you will see
    post after post that invite users at any technical level to discuss problems,
    and/or request features. Feature request are added to a queue and assigned to a
    developer. The developer is able to task the level of importance and provided
    feedback on development. This process is amazing to witness: User
    Request Feature (sometimes bug) >> Level of Importance Assigned >>
    Developer is Assigned Feature Development >> Developer updates his
    progress which is accessible to all.
    It is also important to realize that Ubuntu has made
    an open source distribution that for many users WORKS.

    Despite the ample advice I receive, getting through the
    din, especially in the world of IT, doesn’t happen with a Super Bowl ad (can you
    remember a single one?

    Apple’s 1984 ad is one of the few ads that is standing the test of time, but
    mostly nowadays from a historical perspective. Advertising is much more
    fragmented these days, and I would have to agree that I don’t believe the same
    type of venue would gain as much attention in 2006.

    The far bigger risk is that we’d meet another customer
    surprised by what we had to offer. Unaware that our systems were 5 times as
    energy efficient as our competitors. Solaris was free, open source, and
    available on Dell or HP. Or that Thumper was about to reset the economics of the
    storage industry.

    Because my knowledge of Solaris is rather limiting, I can’t make a judgment
    observation outside of a student / home user. Nonetheless, I admit that I
    can’t distinguish what market Solaris is targeting. Is this supposed to be an
    operating system to compete with MS Windows / Linux / OS X, or is this
    specifically for enterprise? From my perspective, the consumer market is
    not clearly identifiable. Without being too critical, since this is my
    initial post, I found a rather insightful link that critiques the OS;
    LINK TO OSNEWS ARTICLE

  41. Mike Sanlon

    I think the biggest problem Sun has, as an organisation, is that you have a reputation for being only interested in the Fortune 500. Big Iron. Big Prices. Big Companies.
    The fact that Solaris is open source is not a big deal. I am tripping over Open Source Linux Distributions.
    The fact that your server hardware is power efficient may be a big deal when compared to say… Dell – but really, doesn’t any box running modern AMD processors dp well in the power department.
    The fact is, you need to embrace and innovate. There is only 500 companies in the Fortune 500. What about the rest of us? Where’s your offerings for small business? I can buy a box from anywhere – and frankly you’re not the cheapest. I want compelling software running on your power efficient box. The box by itself is meaningless.

  42. I’ve blogged my view of Solaris. First attempt at using it.
    Not a happy experience. Have you ever installed it?
    regards DaveP

  43. David

    I love for companies to have transparency in their operations. There have been a lot of bad things done by many U.S. companies in the recent past to warrant complete transparency. I am glad, as a shareholder, that you believe in transparency. However, I think there is still a lot of people skeptical that Sun management can put the company and customers over their own personal “needs”, especially since you have indicated that Sun will not be profitable again until June 2007.
    I also love that a CEO has a blog with readers’ comments. I have always loved it when customers, shareholders, or employees could write, email, or talk to the CEOs and get a response.

  44. Robert Thomson

    Jonathan, You don’t need a 500 million dollar ad budget to get the word out you need to move the budget you have out of the huge “C” level weekly magazines and websites and start doing solution oriented ads in vertical publications. I never see your meassage in the publications I read and I run a multi-million dollar ad budget.

  45. Jonathan,
    I’m 100% pro on transparency, is goes hand in hand with trust. One of the most challenging aspects of an IT professional and business executive is getting real metrics on solution. I wouldn’t like to count the amount of proposals from “Global Service” organisations that have are full of metrics AKA “20% in increase productivity”, “A 1000 man day saving”, “A skills transfer that increases you ICAP” OMG
    If Sun would expand there approach to software solution as well, we would have a REAL customer feedback/rating on Sun’s Solutions. It would be a “game changing” (he he) to have a metric, that is REAL, in the market place. A REAL metric is the only one that will be transmitted by word of mouth,
    You’re the Man,
    Graham

  46. Hi Jonathan,
    As a Sun shareholder, a java developer and a long term admirer of Sun. This is the best strategy I have seen so far. Nothing like getting feedback directly from your customers and put them in front of everybody. This will make Sun a better company.

  47. Prince

    Hello Jonathan,
    I see SUN received ServerWatch Product Award for the energy efficient niagara Sun Fire T2000 ( http://www.serverwatch.com/news/article.php/3611436 ). Congratulations. That is really cool. I hope the power starved data center folks go after the niagara servers.

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