Value of Design

Last week, we joined our friends at Intel at their Intel Developer Forum, to unveil the second generation of our Systems platforms. A few of our folks from the event took photos with their phones and sent them my way.

A few evenings later, I was at a dinner presentation with about 30 CIO’s – one of whom had seen some of the IDF coverage. The customer (who does no business with Sun currently) asked me, “why should we bother talking to you? How can you possibly differentiate – it’s all a commodity to me.”

This is one of our biggest opportunities – and biggest challenges. But not as you might think. Most of the world doesn’t do business with Sun – that’s the good news. That’s also the challenge – how do we reach customers when we don’t have a pre-existing purchasing relationship based on PC procurement (like our peers)? On a global basis, it’s a tough nut to crack (and no, it’s not as simple as “Just advertise on TV!”).

So this was the picture I showed during my presentation – see any difference between our system (codename, Tucani, real name, x4450) and the others? (Answer: we’re half the size – the power and performance difference is admittedly harder to see in a picture.) If your business or datacenter’s in a place where space, power density or performance is at a premium, we’d be pleased to engage – running, of course, Windows, VMware, Linux and Solaris.

Step one of reaching new customers is being better by design – and fueling word of mouth. After all, the internet reaches more people than a television.

(And for the technical among you, what’s shown is our first four socket Caneland system, with 32 Dimms, 6 PCI-Express slots, built in RAID, up to 8 hot swap disks, redundant power & cooling, full remote systems management… all in 2U). Read more here and here. Also available as a two socket/1U platform…)


Filed under General

46 responses to “Value of Design

  1. Product Promotions mean nothing

    Great! When do you expect the annual revenue from this product to reach $1B?

  2. Richard Curtle

    The other day I did read an enlightening post about Java/Swing and how it is "in the middle", surrounded by and connected to many other competing technologies – and why that is a great for business!
    I wonder if one could achieve a similar development for Sun’s hardware in the long run?

  3. Louis L

    Reminds me of when I first started driving. Space was at a premium in the smaller fuel efficient cars we were driving from Japan. So when given the choice between listening to cassettes or eight track cartridges in the car, the choice was easy. Your picture brought me right back to those good old days!

  4. Dennis

    Wait two or three month and your competitors will have the same RU. In this sector it is really commodity (except x4500, which is innovative, when will you offer it with 1TB HDDs?). Its all about marketing and selling. In my view this is Sun´s weakest point. But that is not my point. Everyone in this blog who buys server should buy from AMD. If AMD collapses we are going to have a 2nd monopole in the IT sector…I am waiting for your AMD update!

  5. I think you’ve been reading too much Fast Company, Jonathan. If you don’t already know, "Design" is the theme, this month. While usually fast company has a decent magazine, this month’s blows. As a former designer, I can say this. Design doesn’t get you too far, in this world. Design is like an afterthought, a non-essential. As having morphed into my former boss, I value usefulness and performance. I don’t care if it is ugly, does it do what I need, does it work(and I do mean work, because I’m going to push it to it’s max). I think Sun should give up trying to differentiate so much, and just do what the CIO in the story above says, eseentialy. Commoditize the hardware, and spend the resources and monies that would have gone into the "differentiation" effort and put it into something more "present" and "relevant". Just a couple of days ago, I was remarking on similar matters in the blog about aligning with social networks, and what does Microsoft do?, it thinks about buying into facebook. Normally, I think of Microsoft as old and decrepit, but I have to give them a hand, on this one. Their keeping Microsoft relevant. Bravo! the onus is on you, Jonathan, to do the same. A quasiethical move could be to go after the same percentage in facebook, although, it might cost you a few hundred million, but it’ll show you care about being "relevant". Marketers might call this "positioning". The quasi-ethical part would be to not be seriously interested in buying into facebook, but to solely position your brand in the public’s eye/mind, and get loads of free press, and create a buzz. Of course, you could seriously consider buying into facebook, and that would be cool, too, but, hey…:) Alternatively, you could choose any social networking site,as I already think I mentioned. Devote some of the Sun programming resources to it, and you’ll have a nice facebook behemoth in two to three years time. Oh, well, maybe someday I’ll be CEO…:)

  6. mickey

    "…how do we reach customers when we don’t have a pre-existing purchasing relationship based on PC procurement (like our peers)?"
    Talk to your lawyers and you’ll know why Sun doesn’t have the contracts. I know a few Ostrich’s that aren’t as risk adverse as Sun’s crack legal team.

  7. Jonathan,
    This is not about the value of design, it’s about the value of a compelling value proposition. If the CIO thinks they’re buying a commodity, then they’ll drive to the lowest TCO. But, because they think it’s a commodity, they think everything else is the same. But, things are not the same.
    Systems are never a commodity, and if the decision maker thinks they are, then a compelling value proposition clearly doesn’t exist. For example, you can differentiate on:
    – space requirements,
    – power density,
    – performance,
    – support,
    – maintenance,
    – the number of OSs available,
    – the number of people in their organization who understand those OSs,
    – ease of configuration,
    – ease of management,
    – data management,
    – availability,
    – systems management,
    – virtualization capabilities,
    – environmental impact,
    – the number of applications available, etc.
    But perhaps the most important question is “Why might these potential benefits matter to the CIO”?
    CIOs care primarily about business value, secondarily about technical value. They get measured on improving the performance of their companies, not having the best technology. They not only look at TCO, but they also look at ROI. They get evaluated on how well they serve the needs of their constituents — the business decision makers inside of their company.
    All vendors need to translate their benefits into business benefits for the business decision makers that the CIO serves. Or the vendor will remain a commodity.

  8. David Cruickshank

    I am in total agreement that word of mouth and Internet are the very best tools for getting our message to more people but, maybe our next magazine ad or tv spot should show a CEO ordering some x4450’s via a web browser where he/she is seen musing "and I thought this was just another commodity!)

  9. There is no doubt that Sun has a very strong lineup from a technical perspective. Excellent erformance, low power usage, intelligent designs, great quality and easy to manage. I don’t hesitate one moment to recommend them and have been involved in buying quite a few of them. All in all, the technical side of things are lined up for something great for Sun.
    There is just one problem that will keep impeding Suns success in the market, and that is the immense problems you have in dealing with small customers. These are systems that could replace whiteboxes, but they never will if you have to literally spend weeks as a customer trying to buy machines from Sun.
    It literally took weeks for the .org that I’m involved in to buy a T2000 and a couple of x2200s from Sun. Admittedly, the T2000 was bought outside .us, where it has always been harder to buy systems from Sun, but still that just isn’t good enough.
    If you’re trying to compete with whiteboxes and companies like dell in the X86 market, then most of all you need to make it easy to buy from you.

  10. Dear Jonathan Schwartz,
    What level of differentiation would your customer like? Apparent? Or profound?
    The differentiation isn’t just in the design that is apparent, the differentiation also isn’t in the performance that can be expreienced. The differentiation is fundamentally on where he buys his Quadcore server from.
    He buys the apparently similar intel inside from a technology warehouse that has more completely lined up all his network hardware needs. He buys it with the most advanced operating system in the planet, or, to choose from, partner Operating Systems. He gets to plug and play with technologies such as virtualization. He finds a more complete basket of all the network software that he needs, he finds half of it free to buy. He buys it all with a built in door to the Open Source, signs into a good and ethical service contract. He buys it from someone good to do business with.
    Actually Sun doesn’t really have to bother about differentiating by engineering and cosmetics. Vanilla from Sun is worth a couple of cents more.
    It is a bonus that it actually happens to be more than plain vanilla.

  11. kangcool

    I agree with Mads, never known a company so hard to buy from.
    I have had Sun VARs put the phone down on me, there that interested in small/medium business. And this sort of stuff gets around, ie don’t bother buying from sun because they don’t want to know, in the small business circles.
    And thats the point, where do the google and facebooks of this world come from. They come from a few guys ideas and out of their garages, and with out sun kit as you will not sell to them. So why will they buy sun kit ever?

  12. It is really encouraging to see the reams of business advice offered here in the comments. I’d like to offer some of these folks some help of my own:
    To the guy who remembers recommends only buying from AMD based on priciple, I have some 8-tract tapes to sell you.
    To the exsunevangelist, Sun doesn’t need to buy Facebook. Thank you for changing your career.
    For the Mads .org customer buying one or two sun boxes overseas, that’s what resellers are for.

  13. cw

    Whilst I can understand the value of branching into alternative areas as you have done with impressively engineered systems like the x4500 and the x4450 in the x86 space, all this love for the wintel bunch without the same love for Sparc customers leaves you at risk of alienating your bread and butter.
    Lets see… you’ve replaced the v240 with the v245 – wow, a grey plastic front instead of a purple one, SAS drives instead of SCSI. It’s still a 2 socket UltrasparcIIIi box. UltrasparcIV has been around what, almost four years now, yet you keep releasing new products based on 6-7 year old technology? How about squeezing four UltrasparcIV or Niagara2 sockets into a 2U box instead. It’s almost as though your marketing department took over the Sparc product range, while all your engineers work on products we’re still waiting for, like Niagara 2 and the Rock. All we’ve seen of late is rebadged Fujitsu kit, and last year’s servers in new skirts. Fingers crossed Niagara 2 and the Rock are worth waiting through these last few product cycles.
    You want to preach about design? Show me something clever in the Sparc range that I can actually buy (sure, the Niagara 1 is lovely and everything, but single socket and limited floating point just doesn’t cut it).

  14. Skip Bogard

    Why the arrows? Jonathan simply asserted "better by design." And, while he hinted in the subject line that there might be "value by design", he did not presuppose a customer "automatically receives a better value because of a better design."
    And, why not? While I can’t speak for him, I’m going to guess that he knows he can’t assign the business value of Sun servers for customers–they must do this on their own. It would be silly if anyone at Sun tried–a customer’s business is theirs to manage.
    Now, Sun can strive to help them be more successful; in fact, I have noticed that Sun employees come to work passionate about helping customers. To my surprise, this passion exists at Sun even more so than my former employer. [At my last employer, I can’t even call it passion–employees were driven by fear (of their management) rather than passion for their customers.]
    That all said, Sun customers are ultimately responsible for their business results–independent of their IT suppliers’ contributions to their customers’ successes. Likewise, they are responsible for assigning value to their purchased IT assets.
    But, just as it’s silly for Sun to assign the value of a purchase to a customer’s business, it is just as silly to suggest design has minimal value to customers.
    So, my question stands: "Why the arrows?"
    A story: as a Systems Engineer, I have a Sun customer that values our designs monetarily…even as part of their business process! For this particular customer they are required by law to do this! This is because our systems are a primary driver of their "Cost of Goods Sold" (their goods) and not just a line item on the Assets side of their Balance Sheet.
    How can that be? It is because they are a Sun OEM. And, our server products are a sub-assembly and go into their final product before it is delivered to their customers. This week I was stunned to learn that this particular OEM customer is ecstatic about the ~design~ of our 19" rack mounting rails!
    Get excited about mounting rails? I confess that confusion was my first emotion.
    I thought, "I’ve received weeks of training about ‘speeds & feeds’ for our Sun servers vs. competition. I’ve also spent 16 years at my former employer learning similar speeds & feeds." But, I couldn’t think of a single day or even hour of training spent on the design of server mounting rails! Not with Sun and not with my former employer IBM. There was no "Server Mounting Rails 101" class at the IBM Sales School in Atlanta. There wasn’t even a "Rack Mounted Ball-Bearing Rails 301" class in Austin, TX where the RS/6000 was designed.
    And, even as my Sun training is twice as technical as IBM’s, not once have I ever learned much more about mounting rails (except that all of our rack mounted servers ship with them for 19" and optionally sometimes 23" [and sometimes even legacy 17 1/2"] racks.)
    Server Mounting Rails. If you had lunch with me and my customer last week, you would have thought they saw evidence of God in the details of a ball bearing slide rail. And, who would I be to suggest that he didn’t, should he wish to insist otherwise?
    Perhaps to him he did; according to this OEM customer, H-P ships server systems that don’t slide on ball bearing rails. And the IBM mounting rails he has tested are very confusing chrome plated rods with catch releases that "lock up at the strangest moments as well as draw blood as they catch your thumb." He added, "You will cry for devine help as you try to figure out how to unlock them while attached to your flesh." His words.
    We were talking about design details. But, notice also that we weren’t discussing "cute dimple patterns on a front bezel plate." It’s not that kind of design.
    My OEM customer really couldn’t care less what the server front panel looked like last week. (This week, who knows? I am not ashamed to admit that in some aspects, my customer knows more about my product than I do. He certainly showed me this when it comes to rails!)
    But for the current time, he did care if it takes one of their manufacturing people 2 hours to mount a set of poorly marked [the IBM] chrome sliding rods in a 19" rack. Front or Back? Left Side or Right Side? It was hard for him to tell with the IBM rails. And he did care if he has to worry about whether the manufacturing line he was designing for his company complies with OSHA or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    He said that, "Asking a manufacturing worker to hoist a server into a rack that doesn’t have ball bearing tracks can be the straw breaking difference between a worker sleeping in their bed at home vs. a bed at the hospital for the night."
    It hurts me even thinking about it. So, let’s talk instead about green tabs.
    Can you imagine that a customer might want to write a letter to someone in Sun thanking them for putting green plastic tabs on all the places a button release existed on a mounting rail?
    I never even noticed before that our server mounting rails have green tabs! In a spare moment, I actually tried to find the person in Sun who first started the practice of putting green tabs on the rails. I learned while searching for them that these green tabs are called "Touch Points".
    Touch points. Every place that a human is supposed to interact with the rail somehow has a green marking of some sort (it could be a plastic tab; it could be a green piece of marking tape; it could be green paint).
    Touch Points. Ball bearings. Metal parts designed to not have sharp edges. OSHA & ADA compliance. That is design–it’s not just about dimples–and I believe it to be important. As to value, I will ask my customers to determine that for themselves. If they’d like my help to quantify value, I will try my best to help.
    Good design is very important. The Pre-Sales SE’s in IBM Sales used to have this saying:
    "If you learned everything there was to know about IBM’s
    products, you would find out too much about each of them;
    and then, you would find out you couldn’t sell any of them.
    Sometimes it’s just better not to know."
    In contrast, at Sun I am finding that the more I learn about the design of Sun servers, Solaris & other software…the easier it is to sell them.

  15. To those of you finding Sun x86 servers hard to buy from Sun. I would ask you to embrace Sun’s partners, particularly the small ones rather than the global type. We sell and support large USIV clusters, replication, three tier architectures, all the things people associate with Sun, but equally we are delighted to sell and support all small Sun x86 servers.
    We treat every x86 sale in the same way as we treat a V890 USIV sale, offering sound advice on configurations, suitability, power considerations etc. It can be easy to purchase Sun if you want more than just a catalogue number and a web based click purchase. This is where the partners build on Sun’s design innovation and add value to the user. If someone asks us for a Sun server we ask them why? We then usually tell them there is a better server in the Sun line-up and give them the reasons why, almost always saving them money, time, space or increasing functionality.
    You can find superb response and reaction just like this from many of Sun’s smaller partners. If your Sun partner doesn’t ask this question, even in the x86 spaces, then hang up and try another, you will find a good one in the end.

  16. Dear Jonathan,
    The real innovation on fitting as much power in a RU doesn’t come from Sun either. You should take a look at your colleagues from SuperMicro. They sell a 1U box which fits 16 Intel cores, 192GB memory, we can populate it with 3 1TB disks and it runs any OS. I agree the design is less flashy, but I would like to see how they would do if they hired a proper marketing team.
    I totally agree with the CIO in your story, it’s all commodity!

  17. One more differentiator in the picture – notice that the other vendors are only highlighting partnerships for providing the end to end solution: HP-Virtual Iron, Lenovo-Microsoft etc. But Sun’s solution is its own: Solaris – choose Xen or Zones (BrandZ or otherwise). An end to end solution out of the box, from a single vendor. You also have the option of VMWare. How is that for choice? Can the others beat that?

  18. Advertising on TV is not the solution, but I believe it does help some businesses in one way or the other! Sun’s becoming more popular on the software front but it’s not earning the dollars from there. Sun has some great hardware designs and may be a better marketing of the hardware will only help the cause!!
    Anyways, congratulations on the big compensation ($7.7 million), and may be we’ll see Sun get loads of cash in the coming future!

  19. Silence

    To all the people out there who think that with "design" Jonathan meant the sexy silver front of the Sun servers: Ever thought that he spoke about processor design (UltraSPARC) or component design (x86 servers)? It’s not because of the nice color that the Sun servers offer more performance and power efficiency at half the height;-)

  20. Bill

    Maybe the word "design" should be replaced with "innovation" or "engineering." If some of you posters don’t recognize the value of packing in the same or better performance in half the space, when data centers are typically maxed out because of the horrible growth of Intel boxes in Windows and Linux environments, then maybe you should visit some more data centers. Your server closet doesn’t count. Combine smaller physical space with the virtualization capabilities of Solaris, not to mention UltraSPARC T1 (did you forget that one, cw??), and you’ll see Sun is the *only* *system* *DESIGNER* that is addressing these very real-world issues of space, heat, and energy consumption – not IBM, not HP, not Dell (who all make systems, but really resell components) and not Microsoft, not Red Hat, not Novell, not Intel, and not AMD (who do not make systems, but make components). Computers are not commodities – space is a commodity, electricity is a commodity, and the heat computers generate is a waste of a commodity. Those computers that use the least amount of these commodities and waste the least also are the best value.

  21. Igor

    Nice servers – high density and looks well engineered.
    But why there are only 5 standard configs for X4150 (and probably something similar for x4450 – they are not even listed yet) and they’re either underpowered (config 2 of x4150) or overpriced (config 4 and 5)?
    Why mom-and-pop shops, Dell and others allow you to custom-configure (any combo CPU+RAM+HD) servers and Sun doesn’t (at least not through web site)?

  22. Mark

    Sounds like a nice line for the next round of Sun advertising: "Sun, better by design."

  23. Revenue = Relationship * Sale potential (for commoditized products or products with little diffrentiation)
    where relationship generally between 0 and 2 , ideal 1 to 1.2
    0 – You need to get the CIO to dinner
    2 – you are exploiting the relationship – if you are at two you are probably bribing someone.
    Relationship = (time * number of transactions) * (funtion of transaction experience)
    Where transaction experience is the soft aspect(can be 0 to 2)
    You can increase number of transactions by getting a broader base of products and more touchpoints and hence a strategy like IBM OR HPQ pays off , where you increase your touchpoints by having Global Services , Consumer devices , printers etc.
    SUNW (opps JAVA) does not have any to compete within the constraints of the equations above and hence is trying to change the equation by adding a variable to diffrentiation factor.
    Is the stuff Jonathan talking about "DIFFRENTIATING" enough for the CIO. I am giving it 1 year to decide. Untill then WAIT and WATCH

  24. Gary Powers

    Why does this new machine include hardware RAID? I thought ZFS was supposed to obviate the need for such expenses…

  25. Brook Reams

    Hmmm …
    I went to the product page on the web for the X4450
    and in the "Competative Comparison" section found these curious comparitive statements about the X4450:
    "… wins in each case" and
    " … memory capacity at a maximum 128GB, is double the others"
    But, every one of the competitors has 128 GB memory. And the HP DL580 G5 has 2X the number of drives, and 1.3X the PCIe slots.
    What am I missing in the comparison?

  26. Lally

    Gotta agree with Mads. My Try & Buy experience involved e-mail with 4 different people in Sun, only to have it sink in a hole for a week, spotted with boilerplate emails. God Willing the box ships only 2.5 weeks after I ordered it. The phone number listed for order status, when called, had a person tell me they couldn’t help me and offered me an email address.
    And to top it off, the order status page doesn’t work in my primary web browser, but does show a few missing images from the webpage.
    Sun’s gotta get their Sales act together. Most companies are small companies, and most of them would probably benefit from Sun’s offerings, if they could buy them. If I hadn’t already tried Solaris & loved it, I would’ve dumped the entire transaction altogether.

  27. Andre

    Nice piece of hardware DESIGN – two times the others brands computation power for a fraction of power consumption. The perfect compliment for this server (x4450) would be a 2ru jbod for 20+ or 40+ sas or sata drives, for use with zfs.

  28. Andre Rufforny

    Don’t you think you can achieve your goals by merging with company like IBM

  29. I’m wondering if some of the respondees above have even read the blog post. I’m amazed how Jonathan’s text (and image) presents a clear picture on the value of design… and how many people aren’t seeing it. Methinks there’s a few individuals who are afraid of Sun’s growing position in the marketplace… (Or just want to argue for argument’s sake.)
    Yes, the Sun <i>is</i> rising. And the Value of Design (as shown above) is ever-present in Sun’s products, particularly the HW offerings. Now, if we could get some more value of design with Sun SW application GUIs… They’re really good, just not great. And I want to see GREAT!!

  30. Truly sleek design and color !
    Conversely, Tech World’s hottest gadget…iPhone….has no Java 😦
    Please try to bring more value to such a design too…

  31. Feedback

    Design means different things for different people. I think the context here is engineering design for corporate systems. Sun’s engineering design is always the best and unique compared to competitors. Kudos to Sun! The key for success is to think always ‘there has to be a better way’. This motto will keep Sun always on TOP of the world. Run ‘Sun’ like a startup in the valley – Always innovate in every product.

  32. Mark

    Regarding current Sun SPARC products. The UltraSPARC IV was released in 2004, about 3-1/2 years ago. But the current UltraSPARC processor is the UltraSPARC IV+, released two years ago in fall of 2005. It is not 6-7 year old technology, just like these new Xeon servers are not 11 year old technology, even though it is based on the Pentium Pro architecture released in 1996. UltraSPARC IV+ is a very different processor from UltraSPARC IV: 90nm vs. 130nm manufacturing process; 5X the transistor count; 2 MB on-chip L2 cache; numerous additional RAS features; etc.
    As for the SPARC Enterprise M-class, it is true Fujitsu designed the SPARC64-VI processor, and the high-end M8000 and M9000 systems, but Sun was heavily involved in the design of the midrange M4000 and M5000, and Sun manufactures the M8000 and M9000 systems in its plants as well as Fujitsu manufacturing M8000 and M9000 systems in its own plants.
    The fact the M-class uses a Fujitsu processor is about as much reason not to consider them as the fact the X4450 uses an Intel processor.
    Finally, given the vast majority of commercial apps contain less than 5% floating point code, and the fact that most applications requiring significant floating point (such as HPC) also seek strong per-thread performance, can you elaborate on what application you would otherwise buy an UltraSPARC T1 server for if it had more floating point? Clearly you are not using something like OLTP databases, J2EE applications, or web servers.
    The Supermicro 1RU 4-socket Intel system gets to 192 GB RAM by using 8 GB DIMMs. The Sun X4450 gets to 128 GB RAM using 4 GB DIMMs. So you will pay a lot more money to Supermicro to get above 96 GB with 4 GB DIMMs.
    Also, the Supermicro server has a single, non-redundant, power supply. And only one PCIe slot. It is not an enterprise system. The only situation where I would consider a 4-socket server with only one power supply would be for a large HPC cluster, where a loss of a power supply might only take out 1/1000th of my cluster.
    Yes, the new HP DL580 G5 has 2X the number of drives. But it takes twice as much space to get those drives. And IBM’s x3850 m2 and x3950 m2 are 3RU boxes.

  33. Dmitri Trembovetski

    > Why does this new machine include hardware RAID? I thought ZFS was supposed to obviate the need for such expenses…
    Um.. Because only one of the three systems offered on this machine has it?

  34. Greed

    Nice compensation if you can DESIGN it:
    But, where is the Growth? There were more layoffs – nice touch in timing the layoffs with the above announcement. The brass at Sun is really good at cutting now.
    Can Sun sow clothes if they only have scissors?

  35. cut the ponytail

    Congratulations on making one stockholder rich. Through great stock price performance you say? No, the old fashioned way. Overpaying the underperforming CEO to the tune of > $15,000,000. As far as I can tell, all you have managed to do is kind of get Sun’s expenses in line with revenue (through RIFs).
    Are you ever going to grow revenue at a clip that Wall Street would actually notice? I’ve been hearing for years that Sun is about to turn the corner, etc. I do think if you cut the ponytail, stockholders that don’t have the last name Schwartz would reap a windfall. That ponytail is a jinx.
    BTW – that StorageTek acquisition has done wonders to the bottom line, hasn’t it?

  36. Bill

    Hardware RAID:
    Does Windows have ZFS? Does Red Hat have ZFS? Do Windows and Red Hat need hardware RAID?
    Does Solaris have ZFS? Does Solaris need hardware RAID?
    Value in design… get it?

  37. core4quado

    "better by design", aey? hmmm …

  38. Sun Employee

    Reminds me of the time when you went on stage and threw stuff around in 2003 and announced the new "small" JES. Did not work.

  39. rocky

    You and Sun are not doing your well. If a CIO that your meeting with does not know why he should be talking to you that means you are not getting your word out or you have nothing real to talk about. After reading your blog you feel that you do have something to talk about so I will go with your expert opinion.
    How does one get the word out? Good question. Maybe partnering with Oracle might help. DELL and EMC and other seem to have benefited from it. Of course, offering a FREE database and middle does not help this relationship.
    I suggest you get on a plan and do not get off until people know what the heck you are trying to accomplish. We are paying over $7 million a year to do just that.

  40. Colin Ngam

    From the picture it is also hard to see that it runs anything but Solaris?

  41. One consideration may be the assumption that it’s the CIO who has the budgetary authority to determine the purchase. In these days of "much cash on hand" and C-Suites waiting for this to reanimate the hedge fund M&A activity maybe some fresh research into who actually does the buying authorization and what factor actually flips the buying decision bit might be in order.

  42. Some CTO

    I personally think that one essential way of differenting from other competitors is the service a company offers. Thats not only the 24/7 – 2h response time, but sometimes the peace of mind when buying a solution.
    As a customer I want value for money, but what I need most is a working solution within my datacenter. So who cares about some 1 or 2 % more on the bill, when I have a good contact to a sales person and a engineer that both are really working on my problems.
    Getting the best solution from my suppliers gives our company a competitive advantage, saves us money in the long run and allows us to be "agile" when we use try&buy.
    Thats the main reason why we choose to switch to SUN hardware. Ease to set up service with excellent engineers. Fast delivery times. Try & Buy.

  43. Anton

    "…running, of course, Windows, VMware, Linux and Solaris"
    Win, Linux & Solaris are operating systems, VMware is a program. Saying that it runs Windows already implies that it can run VMware so I don’t see why this is mentioned like it’s an OS which it is not.

  44. Is there a reason why the other three vendors look so similar to each other? It seems they are taking the look-like-a-brick-sh*thouse-approach. Maybe, that’s what CIOs want? Should Sun make an offering that "looks" like the other guys? Sun is sexy, no doubt about it, but maybe these CIOs aren’t looking for sexy. If I had my dithers, Suns would be strictly advanced research machines, think biotech, supercomputer stuff. <p> Another thing I was thinking was maybe it’s time to retire "Solaris", I mean the name. Create, three different offerings:one for these CIOs, following HP’s lead of Virtual Iron, called BSH(internally known as BrickSh*tHouse) that emphasizes security, another called SUGAR for high-level researchers and rocket scientists(Hi, Greg:)), and another for your plain vanilla consumers(yet, to be named). It wouldn’t cost much as this is software, not hardware. What do you say? 🙂

  45. Allison

    Jon–keep it simple. Invent, innovate, differentiate and show value to your customers through exceptional customer service and RIFS won’t be necessary. and maybe lower that CEO salary by 30%.

  46. Anonymous

    Anton: not always. The VMware Infrastructure suite of products,
    for example, VMware ESX Server, install directly on the hardware
    with no need for a host operating system. In that sense,
    it _need_ _not_ be superfluous to state that some server hardware runs
    VMware, in addition to Solaris, Windows and Linux.

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