What the Pink Dots Mean…

Thanks for the creative comments. (The link from the graphic to the NetBeans download page was a distraction… I didn’t want the test to be too easy.)

This is the picture I put in front of an investor group recently, along with a couple of OEM customers wanting to know how free and open source software helps us (and thus them).

Each pink dot represents a connected Solaris 10 user – not a downloader, but an individual or machine (independent of who made the server) that connects back to Sun’s free update service for revisions and patches – applied to an individual machine, or a global datacenter. This doesn’t yet account for anywhere near all Solaris 10 downloads, as most administrators still choose to manage their updates through legacy, non-connected tools. But it’s directionally interesting – and shows the value of leveraging the internet to meet customers (new and old).

There’s no way we could match this kind of global growth by sending out compact disks or sales reps – free software allowed interested developers/customers to identify themselves to us – rather than the other way around. And allows us to build vibrant relationships and communities across the globe – based on a free basic update service for individuals or small businesses, and higher value offerings for larger businesses. We are meeting new customers because Solaris no longer requires our hardware (or a human being to deliver it).

You can click around on the map in this mashup – customer information is obscured to protect privacy, and connections are localized to a city or zipcode only. The color of the dot relates to the number of unique users in that zipcode – the brighter the dot, the more customers connecting to Sun for updates.

For those wanting to know how our Wall Street initiatives are going – the area with the single highest density of connected Solaris users turns out to be New York City. Nearly every zipcode is brightly lit. It’s great to see our success in Japan, Brazil, Australia, and all across Europe, as well.

What’s disappointing in the data is how few downloads are connecting from India and China – both areas dense with great developer communities (eg, some of our most active NetBeans communities are in those countries). We have a few theories on why, most related to bandwidth and network quality of service (Solaris is, after all, many gigabytes to be downloaded) – both problems we can work around. Innovation like this really helps.

The northernmost download I could find was far north of Helsinki – for those that observe Christmas, rumor has it Santa Claus runs the entire North Pole CRM and distribution facilities on a large Solaris/PostgresSQL grid (running on recycled Dell boxes, curiously enough). He lets our update center handle all the patch management.

But I’d like to stress that’s just a rumor at this point. We do not have Santa’s permission for a customer reference.

That’s still with his legal team.


Filed under General

28 responses to “What the Pink Dots Mean…

  1. carl

    I’m sorry is the ‘free’ update service the 9 or 20 thousand dollar version?
    Please insert your ‘value add’ marketing blurb for answer here:

  2. This is just fantastic Jonathan!

  3. Jim H

    Jonathan, Cool beans! I went to see if I was a dot. Either you are a little off on my location or there is someone else a mile or so from me. I can’t tell though, because the dot is too far off the road to pick them out, so it could be me? Any how, that is awesome. I just installed Solaris 10 update 3 and it is the best experience yet! A few complaints because I would like to use JDS as a standard desktop. It is a pain to switch to windoze to do a few things….
    1) There are a few desktop apps like qnext from qnext.com. It is a IM tool on steroids and it is written in JAVA, but doesn’t run on Solaris because webrender (a basis for qnext) isn’t supported on Solaris x86. Urg! It is a great tool!!! Work it out that they can ship the free version with Solaris! They can jump on the band wagon with you!!!
    2) Google toolbar for firefox isn’t supported on Solaris. What is up with that?? Yahoo toolbar works great 😉
    3) What is up with Adobe reader and Flash player for Solaris? Can’t you talk to Johnny L and get better support! I have to switch to windoze to view web sites using flash 8 and while I can read adobe files with the supplied reader, it isn’t adobe reader!
    4) My last one (not really…) I can’t watch Vanish or any of the other shows on http://creative.myspace.com/VOD Urg.
    Still, you Sun is making great strives! I started my update when I started typing this and it beat me. 🙂

  4. Akhilesh Mritunjai

    Greetings Jonathan,
    I am one of the “user in India”, infact one of the dots would be the little machine running Solaris over here.
    One of the prime reasons why Solaris doesn’t have much traction over here is that it is so damn difficult to own a Sun hardware or even an OpenSolaris or Solaris DVD. The vendors won’t talk to individuals and would try to milk us to bone. Further problems are due to 5GB+ downloads of DVD images.
    Currently I’m consulting a company for a J2EE deployment, and to our disappointment, we can’t find a single provider who’d let us host our application on Solaris.
    It’s frustrating just to try Sun products, unfortunately. We’re trying our best and have been for long. Others would have given up much earlier. The time required just doesn’t make business sense.
    Oh yes, your developers and engineers are better at sales and marketing than your sales and marketing (can’t decide whether to put a 🙂 or 😦 ).
    – Akhilesh

  5. So, Jonathan, is it considered bad form to drop by one of these places while one’s home for Christmas and say thanks and find out what they’re doing with Solaris?

  6. It should be no small coincidence that the exact same download patterns are seen by Blastwave.org. At roughly 40,000 software packages downloaded daily from forty four mirror sites worldwide I can report the usage and growth trends of Solaris 10 ( per architecture also ) in various market segments. I can also track the users of Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 and their architectures and their trends ( I should really publish those). Three guesses where the lions share of growth is? On Solaris 10 and into Asia. Oh, and by the way, Blastwave.org has offered software to Solaris users for free, forever. We offer updates to the end users for free, daily, forever. The Solaris Community has built and packaged 1600+ software titles for the Solaris market, for free. Isn’t open source great?

  7. Shane Falco

    The Sun update service is a big step in the right direction, but it’s still far too slow and buggy. PCA is, by far, the best update tool a Sun administrator can use:
    We use it for everything from our new X4500 and T2000s running Solaris 10 to our lowly E450s running Solaris 2.6.
    Shane <– excited about Solaris and Sun for the first time in a many years

  8. Kevin Hutchinson

    So the Sun Update Connection is your version of the Red Hat Network? If so, then you’ll really need to put a lot of effort into making it match all the features of the rather excellent RHN. Then, when Sun Update Connection is way ahead of the competition (just like how NetBeans is beating Eclipse) your Solaris service income will surpass that of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Just my 2c. Nice job.
    PS Any news on the date of the Sun/Fujitsu APL Spark VI chips? As an investor I’m feeling concerned about IBM Power6 and the 2007 Itaniums.

  9. It would be nice to see Java Enterprise System getting more popular, and generate revenue for sun.

    comp.unix.solaris is getting more popluar. And yes, I will be installing Solaris 10 (11/06) on my new AMD64 computer, I will play with Zones, ZFS, and DTrace a bit more.

    BTW, Sun offers FREE Free Solaris 10 and Sun Studio Software media kits

    Lastly, SUNW is at $5.6. I am sure it will break $6 early next year – as an investor I am happy… Nice job Sun!! 😀

  10. Hi Jonathan,
    You say: “… rumor has it Santa Claus runs the entire North Pole CRM and distribution facilities on a large Solaris/PostgresSQL grid (running on recycled Dell boxes, curiously enough)”. I think the reason why he uses Dell boxes is obvious: with all the heat put out by those Xeons, he saves $$$ on his heating bills. 🙂 If he used something more powerful and more energy efficient (e.g., X4200s or T2000s), he’d freeze!
    Naturally, I can’t fault him for his choice of software.

  11. If I may indulge in a little shameless self-promotion, I’ll be blogging about the details behind the implementation of this map.

  12. Santa Claus runs his operations on Dells because of his affinity for toys. 🙂

  13. stephanie

    je dois faire une expose sur la communication du patron avec le public, viens de commencer a lire votre blogs, vraiment interessant.

  14. Who is using Solaris in the mountains of Afghanistan then?
    Lat: 33.93911
    Lng: 67.709953
    Solaris 10 / Sparc: 6
    Solaris 10 / x86: 25
    OpenSolaris / x86: 3
    Total: 34

  15. Sanjeev Bagewadi

    There is a whole bunch of us in Sun, India Engineering Center, Bangalore who
    work on openSolaris. You can get in touch with anyone of us.
    You can also post your queries to ug-bosug@opensolaris.org which is the Bangalore
    opensolaris user group. We will try our best to assist you.
    — Sanjeev Bagewadi

  16. Solaris no PostgreSQL yes but Java&XMLWebServices YES YES YES We make it day for day.
    For Solaris – havent anougth money for great Sun hard!!!
    Vot takaja vot fignja, Jonni.

  17. Really, Jonathan, We can’t discuss your means, in any very valuable for.
    For two reasons:
    No translate comments to your blogs (they are only in English version)
    No means for comment on native language.
    I mean russian, of cource. It’s not ‘zu toyer’ but valuable.
    With all my frendly heart

  18. lmf

    I’m curious if more Solaris users translate into more Sun sales in those individual areas. This is a pretty good way to track the effectiveness of an open source strategy. Unfortunately I guess you would never release any of that data. But it would be very interesting.

  19. mj

    I’m hoping in 2007 Santa would consider running his database on EnterpriseDB, it’s faster, less expensive and what Treckie couldn’t remember the name “Enterprise” when putting in his PO on the IT. Last post, good luck mj

  20. Glynn

    In some ways it’s a rather sobering answer for the investors of what insanely small impact we seem to have had, but WOW, there’s some incredible new year resolutions to come out of that for Sun which I’m personally extremely excited about. Happy Christmas Sun!

  21. With regard to the gigabyte download. When QNX was trying to promote their real time OS they squeezed it onto a bootable floppy and followed that up with a bootable cd.

    If I ran the show – I would get a minimal OS going then have feature updates available through the web. That way I can surf the web while the OS updates. Hard to watch an install for more than an hour….

    When downloading large files I found it was Windowzzz that was unstable not the connection. My first install of Solaris 10 was kinda tedious but was nice to feel that rock solid stability after the install.

    I did some large downloads under Solaris 10 to test the speed and reliability – not bad… not bad….

  22. gj

    Some pink dots appear to be in the middle of the ocean. I guess deep sea fishermen must use Solaris too! (Either that or Sun are giving away the location of Atlantis…)

  23. Darren

    I want clarification of something you stated in a previous Blog entry:
    “By admitting that one of the strongest motivations to select the GPL was the announcement made last week by Novell and Microsoft, suggesting that free and open source software wasn’t safe unless a royalty was being paid. As an executive from one of those companies said, ‘free has to have a price.'”
    First, the first sentence of that paragraph as constructed is poorly put together.
    Second, are you stating, for the record, that Novell has made statements to the effect that OSS isn’t safe unless a royalty is paid?
    That’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. If the answer is ‘yes’, could you please point to links supporting this? If the answer is ‘no’, then that statement is actually libelous toward Novell. I’ll be looking forward to your answer.
    Disclaimer: I don’t work for either Novell or Microsoft. I just don’t like the senseless posturing and continual criticism of Novell based on half-truths and outright unsubstantiated rumors.

  24. Interesting. Not bad having so many customers updating Solaris 10 through Internet.

  25. Hi Jonathan,
    I’m currently working on a presentation about corporate communication and especially about blogging as a form of communication. Therefore I have to read a lot of blogs these days, but I have to tell you, that I like your blog most! I really like the way you write about the respective topics and the humor in your words.. E.g. Santas permission.. 😉
    Have a nice christmas,

  26. Laxman

    Dear Mr Schwartz… it’s good to see how Sun is innovating at a faster pace than the competition right now… innovation will take sun microsystems forward a long way.
    Please make Solaris a GPL project as soon as possible… i think it is much better than linux… but the CDDL restricts solaris application development among FOSS developer community… and as you know that’s a huge factor.
    i know you’re already working on this(or something i read said this)… but get it done soon,OK??

  27. Laxman, that’s a very delicate subject. Although we’d all like Sun to put a less restrictive and more compatible license on Solaris, the fact remains that the technology is derived from various 3rd party vendors and could only be opened if Sun had kept control over it. AT&T System V code and several proprietary drivers are still in the tree and are essentially composing the whole entire operating system. You can go take a look at the Source Browser at http://www.opensolaris.org/ and check out uts/ for instance, uts is the traditional name used for the original UNIX kernels, and if you look at the C files you’ll see a nice section about AT&T Intellectual Property. Solaris was originally based on System V when Sun and AT&T worked together to develop a UNIX to combat IBM and HP in the early 1990’s, but it also has BSD extensions which gave it more features and gave it some backwards compatibility with the original BSD-based SunOS.
    I don’t think the GPL is that great, it puts too many limitations on what the developer can own, and is an oxymoron to true freedom. The GPL works to protect some projects such as Java, which probably would had died anyways if Sun hadn’t put it under such a popular license. The fact in the matter remains, the GPL is bad for business adoption, just by linking a single GPL source header, there is doubt if you are required to essentially give away all of your code under the GPL. NVIDIA is showing how hard it is to use binary-only drivers with the GPL licensed kernel, and personally I don’t think the open-source community delivers the quality some commercial vendors bring to the table. Some examples would include VMware, Parallels, NVIDIA, and Oracle. Their products would probably turn into an unstable mess if they GPL’ed it. Don’t get me started on internal disputes with the kernel developers and license limitations.
    I’m not for or against binayr-blobs as the OpenBSD Project calls them. What I am against is bad quality code and bad decisions from people blindly following a hype. The GPL and Linux are a major hype, they are an oxymoron to freedom, and are not as dependable as oh say BSD. They change too radically, have too many internal problems, cannot assure quality or backwards compatibility, and in my opinion are very liberal.
    Jonathan, think again before releasing Solaris under the GPL, it will not be a wise choice for such a large codebase. You need to adopt the BSD Committee approach to audit releases themselves and the point releases inbetween. Unless Sun and educated people who have experience with software engineering are involved with formal releases, Solaris will end up worse then GNU/Linux. Solaris has a larger codebase, it’s legally tied to some IP, it has a longer history. Only portions of Solaris should be put GPL, do not do the whole thing, please. I seriously don’t want the bad code that I’ve seen recently from the Linux kernel committers entering any part of Solaris. However speaking, I suppose if you continue to provide the Sun tested commercial-esc version for free, I wouldn’t oppose too much. The problem there though is that then you’ll just be another Red Hat or Novell, putting a sticker and an 800 number on a box without doing much work, which is pretty lame.
    Some things Sun needs to work on before they consider this. Provide a better update program, the one you’re currently offering is extremely bloated, slow, and buggy. Work on fixing your individual and small-business cooperation skills. You guys seem to completely ignore small people when it comes to needing help for something, or general inquiries. The Sun Try & Buy program completely bias me by requiring a credit card check. At my age there is no way to prove my financial state by the validation of credit cards alone. I strongly think you need to do background checks and have a more comprehensive general knowhow test for people, and should maybe also allow for some slack when it comes to the bottom line… some people would end up paying per month if they did decide to buy the machines, but since they can’t even take advantage of the offer, they will just not buy anything from you guys altogether.
    If you want to talk to me personally about any of the ideas I have about Sun’s future, call me at 1-760-782-0109. My e-mail is jcornell@itprodigy.com.
    PS: The obfuscated Solaris registration map is quite neat, although you’re way off when it comes to my location. I’m out in the middle of no where, so it’s probably not an exact science.

  28. Geoff Gigg

    I think there’s one farther north than the one mentioned as “far north of Helsinki”. That looks like Oulu right on 65 degrees North on the Gulf of Bothnia in Finland.
    But there’s a pink dot in Greenland just North of the Arctic Circle (66 degrees 32 minutes North) on the West coast – Kangaatsiaq?
    Oops, just found one in Norway at Vadso, just where 70N meets 30E.
    Southernmost? There’s a pink dot on Bouvet I., 54S 3E (in S. Atlantic) also Norwegian! And another pink dot a tad further south, SE of South Georgia – where there is no land. Hmmm.

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