The Internet as a Customer

It’s been a very busy second quarter to the fiscal year, and I’ll apologize up front for falling behind on my posting duties. When you write a blog, you welcome onto your shoulder an inner editor, or in my case, an outer editor in the form of a general counsel whose last missive to me was titled, “you need to write a blog.” Thanks, Mike.

I’ve been spending a ton of time with customers and independent software vendors – especially those that blur the lines (software as a service (SAAS) companies). We held an event a few weeks ago to which we invited a broad spectrum of such customers, one room filled with CTO’s from some of the world’s largest on-line companies (whose brands nearly everyone would recognize – the internet as a social phenomena is in full swing); the other filled with CIO’s – from the new world, as well as more traditional companies (banks, telcos, technology and retail companies).

Not all the attendees were customers (that is, some came just to hear what we were up to), and they came from China, Japan, across Europe and North America. Budgets ranged from $10,000 to billions. But all of the attendees were focused on using IT as a competitive advantage (why else would you spend two days with us, I suppose).

A lot of the insights were confidential, but here were a few items of interest…

  • No CIO wore a baseball cap. The same was not true of the CTO sessions.

  • The youngest company in the CTO session was started last year.

  • The fastest grower (in terms of datacenter infrastructure spending) was growing 100% per month.

  • The cost of people and change dominated the CIO room – not capital assets or power.

  • The cost of storage and bandwidth dominated the room filled with web companies.

  • Not a single company in the CTO room paid for software. Many knew Sun exclusively from our work in the open source or academic arena – validating free communities as a vehicle to meet new opportunities, before they join the Fortune 100.

  • In contrast, not a single company in the CIO room allowed free software without a commercial support contract. Not one. Validating the notion that for more mature/diverse companies, the cost of downtime dwarfs the cost of a support contract.

  • The CTO’s in the web companies wanted innovation at an accelerating pace.

  • The CIO’s (broadly) wanted innovation to slow down long enough for them to manage and exploit it.

Virtualization and open source storage were big topics in both rooms – almost everyone was aware of what we’ve been up to with ZFS (courtesy of one of our competitors). If you’re technically inclined, you can read about our approach to free, multi-platform virtualization in this whitepaper. There is a general sense the prices of both storage and virtualization will be falling in the next 12 months. We helped lend confidence to that thought.

  • The CTO’s said we were too hard to do business with, but they appreciated the ease with which our software could be freely downloaded.

  • The CIO’s praised us for being so easy to do business with, and one groused about the ease with which his developers can bring our software into his network.

This contrast made many Sun attendees want to pull their hair out (but customers obviously buy in very different ways, and we’re working hard to adapt our systems and processes for both).

Almost all the CIO’s were in the midst of new datacenter buildouts (due to insufficient power density for many, lack of space for others). Growth was a big issue for everyone, but in remarkably differing ways – one CTO had 9,000 systems, growing 5% per week – and storage growing even more rapidly… just to put that in context, that’s a social networking company, not a Fortune 500 bank.

All the CIO’s wanted to drive toward uniformity in their datacenters (“just like Southwest Airlines” – it’s cheaper and easier to manage an airline if all you fly are Boeing 737’s – diversity and variation is very expensive, especially at scale). Most of the CIO’s were struggling to free the resources necessary to drive a singular platform standard. Conversely, the CTO’s all had mandatory platform standards – with no variation permitted without explicit approval. Then again, the web companies mostly had the luxury of being less than 10 years old.

  • The youngest company in attendance was less than a year old.

  • The oldest company in attendance was more than 100 years old. The CIO of the latter (who’s quite a bit younger than 100) claimed he was still running processes from the 1800’s. He wasn’t smiling when he said that. We got a round of applause for working with IBM to port OpenSolaris to System Z mainframes.

Which is all to say… I feel quite good about how we’re prioritizing our investments, for CIO’s and CTO’s, alike. Around communities, efficiency, security, automation – and most importantly, innovation to address ever increasing scale. In everything we do, hardware, software, developer tools, all. Customer feedback around our technology roadmaps was, almost uniformly, “why can’t we have that sooner?” Which is a great buying sign.

But the most important conclusion was this: there is no longer a uniform definition of “customer” at Sun. From developer to startup, mammoth messaging service to 100 year old financial institution, customers, and their requirements, are as diverse as the internet, itself.

Which is both the challenge and the opportunity.


Filed under General

62 responses to “The Internet as a Customer

  1. There is an old sales expression that says a customer that is objecting or complaining is also buying. Because the one that doesn’t care generally says nothing. It is good to hear that a lot of people are complaining to you.

  2. sun fan

    Did the CTOs that compalined about doing business with Sun have any thoughts on why it is so and how they think you should fix it?
    Sun Fan

  3. Kevin Hutchinson

    Jon, I think you’re doing great. You’re making long term courageous improvements to the very heart and soul of Sun. You listen and you act with conviction and sound values. As a small Sun shareholder who works with smaller web companies and customers, I’d like to suggest a couple of fresh ideas:
    – A Java coprocessor for X86 hardware (could add it to every PC in the world)
    – Hypercompetition inside Sun for sales to your different types of customer
    About your post – CIO versus CTO – if you’ve got different types of customers who like to buy in different ways, why not consider having alternative units inside Sun who can compete for sales and sales strategies? Another simple way would be to have Dell or Amazon resell your kit. You’re an economist so you know what I mean.
    Another idea I’d like to float – how about offering your xVM virtualization to customers of It would be cool for me to manage virtual computers hosted by you. This is a far better architecture than your upload/run/download architecture for many customers, especially those who use Amazon’s EC2 with Linux images.
    About X86, I hope the recent AMD delays aren’t a setback to your X86 strategy and that you’ve got a good relationship going with Intel for their quad core chips. How about new slot-in Intel cards for your X4600 server? And Intel quads for Thumper?
    Anyway, I’m rambling. Keep up the great work – you’re driving a positive long-term change. Here’s wishing you and Sun a very Merry Christmas.

  4. Prince

    hi Jonathan,
    I was eagerly looking for your blog entry ( addiction ).

  5. William R. Walling

    Obviously, quoting Hollywood, "What we have here is a failure to communicate!".
    An audit of SUN practices, regarding clientèle issues, would appear in order.
    Recall, "Perception IS today’s Reality!".

  6. Kevin Slater

    Any CIO that says he has no free software in his organization without a support contract proves that he doesn’t know what’s running on his company’s servers; if they have deployed Java software. And I’m not talking about the JVM itself, I’m talking about the included libraries, either with the actual web applications or the application servers, take your pick.

  7. /pd

    there was the old sayin the customer is the king.. in todays space the internet is the king !!
    Those who know how to leverage the stack /infrastructure, will be em companies that survive.. I think you nailed it pretty darn well
    "Not a single company in the CTO room paid for software"
    "not a single company in the CIO room allowed free software without a commercial support contract"
    this sez is all..

  8. Alan Moote

    I’ve really come to admire and respect Sun’s approach to business over the past 5 to 10 years. The direction that you and Scott have been taking the company is a brave one which I’m confident will pay off, perhaps sooner than some think. The more I read your blog, speak with co-workers and peruse random Sun-related news articles, the more sure I become that Sun is paving a roadmap for our collective future in IT by building solutions based on feedback from your customers. I eagerly look forwards to working with Sun in 2008.
    Thanks for listening.

  9. Jonathan,
    I a bit confused about the Android and J2ME announcement. Android can be good and help mobile developer to develop more function-rich and personalized application faster
    The advantage of J2ME is that it is widely supported and near ubiquitous market position. The disadvantage is that it is very fragmented and very slow in move forward with new JSRs. like an old democratic. Which is probably why Google choose not to go with J2ME. Now I will need to port my mobile app to Android. There’s a chance that Android may become the next ubiquitous mobile platform of choice because it has the market hype, resource and commitment from Google, and it is free to the OEM that builds commodity handsets. It will be nice to see SUN put in more effort and commitment behind moving J2ME forward to at a faster speed to become a true ubiquitous mobile deployment platform and my JAVAD shares to rise.

  10. Craig Gibson

    Those views are very different….what was the average age in the CTO / CIO sessions?

  11. WhatNeedsToBeDone

    Sun has been hard to do business with since its inception. How are YOU going to fix it?

  12. Sun Fan

    It’s always been a pleasure reading your blog. Keep it up…

  13. lawrephord50

    wanted sun spark blades towers must have 8 processor blocks per blade
    must have 8 cores per block with 8 meg cache per core must have 32 ddr-2 per blade must have 1024 blades per tower !!!!!

  14. Great post. Enjoyed it. I’d like to see ZFS native for Windows. πŸ™‚

  15. pp

    Hi, Jonathan,
    I can’t believe you can still sit in your CEO chair quietly. Come on, heat up your lawyers team.
    I can’t understand why you wow Android. It’s insane. Google is trying to seize your most valuable thing. Now start to stop them,it’s silly to be a gentleman when someone is beating you behind you.

  16. Sun luver

    Great post. When will we see a ZFS powered storage server for home usage that’s made by Sun? That should be pretty neat!

  17. BoredToday!

    I think you give the CIO’s too much respect, in my experience CIOs have limited technical knowledge and fear virtually all new technology. Of course they want the pace of change to slow, most of them are several years off the pace. There opinions on free software some it up, unless they can buy something with a microsoft logo there no interested, this isn’t because of fear of downtime this is because they completely fear the unknown and want to hide their own shortcomings.
    The guy who said that they’re wrong about not having free software on their systems is spot on, of course they’ve got free software, people just don’t let them know because they can’t risk having it taken away from them!

  18. Jeff MacDonald

    Now that you’ve gotten dell to start supporting your OS, you should find a way to get them to sell your hardware as another person noted. I bought a single Ultra 20 about 6 months ago and it was a nightmare. Now that I have the machine I’m very happy with it and it’s rock solid, but the purchasing process was a pain in the ass πŸ˜‰
    — Jeff.

  19. Vince Yen

    Hi, Permit me to digress from your blog. I noticed you have been trying to improve the stock price for sometime, including the recent change of stock name. Unfortunately, they are not working very well. I feel a promising way to do it is to initiate a new strategy which uses your companies strong technoloby know-how as basis for developing interesting, useful and advanced consumer oriented products. Think Apple without iPods or HP without personal printers and cameras, their stock prices would not be as high as they have today. Of course, such products must be advanced technology wise and in top quality. I think Sun has the potential to do it.

  20. JonathanD

    So Sun is still hard to do business with, and as most investors are aware, sales growth is still slow.
    It’s difficult to not see a connection here.

  21. Happy Sun Employee

    Good job Johnathan. I’m glad to get feedback from these meetings.
    Response to Vince Yen: Sun can’t just wake up one morning and decide to get into consumer electronics. That would be a multi billion dollar investment that may have no return.

  22. Stockholder

    Your comment about the 100 year old company is offensive. I realize that you are trying to be funny. But! Sun needs to make as many friends as possible. I want Sun stock to go through the roof!

  23. Prince

    hi Jonathan,
    Sun has great products and people praise about its technical performance. But sun shouldn’t give chance to customers to say "The purchasing process is a pain in the …" .

  24. As a business consultant who specializes and efficiency and streamlining as well as computer security, this year, I have started taking a serious look at Sun offerings again.
    What I would like to recommend for Sun is something I do for myself.
    I have an mp3 player that does nothing but play mp3s.
    I have a cell phone that is nothing but a cell phone.
    I have a digital camera that is nothing but a digital camera.
    I have a PDA that is nothing but a PDA.
    At first, people think it strange and ask me, "why don’t you just buy an iPhone or something, that integrates it all?" I’ll tell you why. My mp3 player plays mp3s and plays them well. They have ONE function, and so for a small cost, I can get a great ROI on that one function. Same with a cell phone. My small digital camera takes great pictures. While there are arguments for not "lugging" all that stuff around when you can have it all integrated; I don’t think that argument is true for servers and hardware. If you can sell ONE item that does ONE thing really well, exactly what it was designed for, then people looking to buy that item will look to you first.
    When I think "Oracle", I think "Solaris+Oracle", done deal. If you can get that kind of mentality into the minds of IT, you’ve got it made.
    I wrote and submitted a 10 page paper about it to the CTO if HP here in Asia, to deaf ears.
    Give me a Solaris box that is rock solid, easy to install and configure with ZFS booting, running something like Postgres, and call it "All the DB you’ll ever need", and I’d buy it.
    Strip all the junk and give me a Tomcat Solaris on Sun hardware, and I’d buy it.
    It is laser like focus that will bring Sun around.
    I will also take this moment to address the reason why Vista fails. People think that the reason is because of applications; it’s not. In most surveys, you find that most people only use about 8 applications, and we can probably name them all. The reason why Vista fails, and the reason why linux cannot do well penetrating the desktop is one simple reason: DRIVERS. It’s about the hardware support stupid! To this day, I can’t get USB to work reliably on my linux box, so I don’t really care how efficient the 2.6 kernel is, I can’t read my USB with reliability. It is about drivers.. If Sun wants to make Solaris a real force in the market, it needs to be on a driver warpath. I’d hire like 10 driver developers, set them up in a room with a bunch of hardware, lock the door, and just slide pizzas and cokes under the door. I will make the bold statement:
    He who’s OS has the most driver support, WINS.
    When I want to install linux on a laptop, I "worry" and have to go to see the hardware compatibility list before I buy a laptop. Why? Drivers.
    To this end, I guess Balmer was right.. DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS. But it’s not the apps, it’s the drivers. I might be willing to try Solaris 10 if I know my hardware is going to be supported regardless. Improvements in hardware will never help if the drivers are buggy.
    Solaris 10 + ZFS booting natively + Driver support for every piece of hardware under the sun + specialized versions of Solaris scripts to strip out stuff and install a specific piece of software for you. This really is what sys admins want.
    I hope Sun throws a programmer or two to the "Gentoo Portage for Solaris" project. Solaris lacks a great package management, and I think portage is by far the best.
    I find the battlefield to be laid out like this:
    1) Drivers. Again, he who supports the most will win.
    2) ZFS. Most small houses want mirror and easy of management of storage without the hardware RAID prices. This is the downfall of BSD’s; there is no easy way to do software raid.
    3) Package Management.
    4) Database. I think Solaris+postgres is a great idea, more so than mysql for the enterprise customers. But what now needs to happen is super optimized Solaris install of Postgres. Most will have no problems buying a box for specifically a DB. Solaris 10 + ZFS + optimized kernel configs for Postgres + Postgres = $$$. Buy a Postgres IDE and toolset company as well. Give the IDE away for free, and actively develop phppgadmin.
    First time in my life, I’m cheering on Sun.

  25. After19+years@Sun

    Dec 14, 2007 JAVA (aka JAVAD, SUNW) $19.73 (div. 4 = $4.93) !?

  26. Regarding the purchasing process, perhaps, we should borrow a page from McDonald’s and streamline and script and maximize the efficiency of the ordering, purchasing, and deivery process. I don’t know. I’m actually just getting ready to begin a start-up of my own, so, I’ll get a chance to experience the PITA process, firsthand, myself, I guess. πŸ™‚ I want to build a scalable solution, and Sun is the way to go, in my opinion. Peace out. I

  27. ww

    Next time IBM smiles your way ask them if you can ‘tag-along’ for a tour of IBM’s
    Federal Technology Division (where they make stuff for those secret places in the desert
    that have number "ahem" ’51’)..and see if your good buddy Steven P. Jobs
    wants to come with you.
    Intel supposedly has "all-optical server chips" waiting in the wings..and you guys might
    get to see some stuff that "you can’t tell anyone about"..but might give a big smile
    too at the next Apple Developers Conference. All the Mac "Rumor Mill" people love you now.
    Keep up the good work.
    <–waiting for 128 Bit JVM’s in Texas

  28. @albert. I really don’t see a problem with drivers. Sun makes just about everything I need. Yeah, it’s a little expensive, but it’s well worth the cost, in the long run. That’s just how I see it. I should be a Sun salesman, right? πŸ™‚ Go with Sun hardware, you’ll be glad you did. πŸ™‚

  29. Patrick

    Memo to Sun shareholders: I’ve got ( boots on the ground ) in the investment advisory world, and what was true for SUN in the 90’s is true today: Wall Street hasn’t got even the cellular beginnings of a clue as to what Sun Microsystems is all about. They don’t know what businesses SUN competes in. They don’t know that SUN even HAS a business model, much less what it is. They are as lazy as the day is long. Unless & until everything is rendered obvious, processed, and spoon fed, they will shun the stock. But it gets worse. I am told that in business school case materials re: the dot com crash, SUN is actually identified as a company that collapsed because it was an "internet speculation" play: hence the persistently moribund stock price, the reverse split etc. Wall Streeters look no further than THAT. ("We’re the dot in dot com" lent itself to catastrophic misinterpretation). My point is this: Be VERY patient. Even when SUN starts to post substantial top line growth, it will take Wall Street more than awhile to reward the stock. That said, SUN continues to ignore PR at it’s own peril. I for one am getting tired of being an unsalaried agent for equity restoration in the SUN brand, bright as it shines in my eyes…..

  30. Sell your products like HP (resellers) and Dell (direct sell).
    You need to excel at both and have the products available to the consumers to buy.
    Sun is a company that builds products for engineers, by engineers, etc, etc. At this point, I appreciate more availability of your product.

  31. Lee Hepler

    Just wondering why you don’t have a SUN credit card or at least a credit account service for customers. You already partner with many technology customers and I know you have many great customers in the financial world that you sell to and support. Why not ask these customers in the financial world to be your supplier or service provider for establishing SUN credit so we can all have SUN accounts that we can use to purchase products and services from SUN on an instant next day shipping basis? Wouldn’t that strengthen your relationships in the financial world and provide a competitive level of service for your customers? Small companies and individual purchasers need this so they can get the same instant service that they get from every other computer company. It just makes good sense to me.

  32. Raghu

    getting dell to sell your hardware may be difficult as they are at the mercy of Intel,you may not want to put your sales under the control of Intel:-)
    Setup a shadow sales organization may be outsources also supported by a shadow supply organization.
    This would get your sales and supply folks out of their comfort zone they will try to outsmart the shadow organization.
    This can increase your sales volume by at least 25-30%
    think about it.

  33. Steve

    ‘there is no longer a uniform definition of "customer" at Sun’
    There hasn’t been for years. Sadly most of Sun, and especially Solaris engineering, doesn’t want to believe it. If Sun wants to play with the big boys on Wall Street and in Telcos it is time it stopped pretending that all customers are geeky developers at heart. $19 and falling… 😦

  34. ditto

    I agree wholeheartedly with Albert. If Solaris is to be ubiquitous, there needs to be a lot of effort on drivers. With all the hardware flavors around, drivers is the key to a smooth user experience. You can only ignore drivers if you are Apple and support only proprietary hardware.

  35. Nima Shah

    Hi Jonathan,
    Your writings are excellent. I am Sun sharholders since many years with great hopes. But somewhere inside I feel that Sun will not rise for various reasons even with great products and people. Lack of desire for success(or killing instincts) or what?
    Gentle suggestion:
    Whatever happens you should have your separate big office not sharing with anybody. Atleast you can mourn alone when your customer says that purchasing a product is a nightmare at sun.

  36. Seriously Concerned

    You just don’t get it, do you. Both the CTOs and CIOs have no clue as to what you have to offer; hence no sales for Sun. You seem to be more successful posting blogs then selling products. Yet your blogs lack content, your sales are flat or declining, while your bloated workforce is highly unproductive. Sorry to say this, but we need a CEO who knows how to communicate with buyers, will fire excess labor (start with laying off 20,000 of your workforce) and can tell a message; not someone who thinks he is running an academic institution — and a third rate one at that.

  37. Certainly Jonathan, I agree with you and there is great potential on the Net innovation, as now I sit in Asia, surrounded by 10 who know more about virtual hi-tech than us wordy intellectual types. Anys, I’d like to read more of your ideas and all of you guys are welcome to check out and join us for alliance at Garunar L’Universite Orientale Royale,
    Happy holidays,
    Kyaw S.Win

  38. john

    2007 was a very painful year again!
    Are you also disappointed with the stock price?
    How are you feeling when you see the price?

  39. Chaz

    Better think about retaining the baseball cap and pony tail, guys. Sun has joined the bloated IT dinosaur, Dell, the information of whose demise is slowly working its way up the corporate spinal chord to its teeny tiny brain. However, with all those Dell garbage can builds piling up over the electronic landscape, recycling options look very very good.

  40. Marc West

    The most perplexing part of your blog on CTO / CIO is that there was little to no connection between what each focuses on and actual customer problems they are solving for. Having been both a CTO and a CIO – small to F500 businesses – hasn’t altered my POV one bit. The customer, regardless of free technology or paid for support or how they access the service, is the reason for the season. Understand the need to sell SUNs value to a technology based buyer set. However, if both the CIO and the CTO fail to understand why they exist and their role in the product creation chain then we (IMHO) doomed to make the same technocratic mistakes that have plagued most technology focused actions. Innovation and scaled operations are all a part of the companies and customers needs. Neither is fully right, both are necessary for a venture to be successful. Enough said….

  41. What would be intriguing to discover is – when there are conflicts among the priorities of the CIOs and the CTOs in the same firm – how are they resolved?
    Are there compromises straight down the road? Does politics or the biases of the CEO affect which way the results will lean?

  42. Justin Smith

    Why doesn’t Netbeans 6.0 support Mobility on Solaris 10? You support your competitors on Windows and Linux to develop mobile applications using Netbeans. Yet a SUN user doesn’t have that option because Netbeans doesn’t support Mobility on Solaris! This is what they mean when they say a customer has a hard time buying SUN.

  43. I don’t see SUN here at the Balkan, while others are coming, slowly but coming..

  44. SPARC is dead

    Recent news said the next generation SPARC chip (Rock) will not be available until CY09H2. It is nearly 1 year delay….sigh….
    Do you have any comment on that ? Are you sure your Rock (16core, 2.x GHz, 65nm) is still competitive then?
    I know you’re busy in pushing SPARC customer to x64 (with Solaris10’s help), but just curious when you will announce the death of SPARC ?

  45. Ewen Chan

    I wonder how much of those that made it to those sessions represent the business potential for Sun and how much of that still remains just an "opportunity" for Sun (if only on paper)? Meaning, for those of us who are neither CIO or CTO, but still represent, and have to tackle many of the same challenges (whether it is union, intersection, or mutually exclusive) that those aforementioned face, are our needs being met by Sun’s business portfolio?
    What about leveraging our current youth’s learning ability and training them to be future Sun customers?
    In some respects, I feel like that those are also opportunities that Sun is missing out on and that to an extent, we are being ignored or that we can’t wait until we have a sustainable, functional business entity where we can provide 6-digit contracts to Sun. By then, it would have been too late to build/establish a working relationship with any company for that matter.
    You’ve mentioned before that you want to capitalize and monetize on EVERY opportunity you have. While I realize it is important to prioritize, I also feel like there’s a lot that Sun hasn’t tapped into in terms of business potential.

  46. Vasu

    It sounds like this was a great session for both Sun and its invitees. Look at what the CEO of SmugMug had to say about your sessions and your company.

  47. f

    Johnny, always super impressed by your blogs. How about a little more time focused on the shareholders. Your stock symbol name change and reverse 4-1 split has really done wonders. You continue NOT to add value to shareholders. MOVE ON (hey…it’s not all your fault….it’s the boards fault too for keeping you on…)

  48. David Boyes

    > We got a round of applause for working with IBM
    > to port OpenSolaris to System Z mainframes.
    Don’t forget Sine Nomine Associates!

  49. Dear Jonathan Schwartz,
    Mike Dilion did the right thing to prompt a new weblog entry. When a new entry once in a week or ten days is an almost established pattern and updates were not seen for four weeks in a row, it appeared unusual and caused a bit of concern. A good weblog perhaps establishes ethereal relationships with people who you haven’t met yet. That is what is peculiar about the internet. It has changed the way we live our lives and it is overwhelming.
    It is apt to think of the internet at large as the customer, it suddenly makes Sun’s customer base huge and unlimited.
    Sun works with the largest internet enterprises such as Google as also powers Web 2.0 innovators such as FortiusOne and Postful, Inc – this is the internet enterprise as the customer. Sun has also been making governments move deeper into the Internet, it makes projects like eNorway happen. But "Internet as a customer" is a far more complete definition and is inclusive of the Internet enterprises and the Internet Users. The Internet as a customer propels Sun beyond enabling Web 2.0 companies towards enabling Web 2.0 per se or the semantic web. It is a more complete definition and it is more purposeful.
    This customer is unfathomably colossal, does not know where he comes from or what he needs or how he is growing. Nobody owns him and everybody is part of him. He is nowhere and everywhere. Sounds rather spiritual to describe Internet this way.
    The Internet emerged on its own. Was invented by Tim Berners-Lee but took shape on its own, without an overall plan or a blue print for its infrastructure, so we have an enormous network that grew up very fast, but with sub-optimal, redundant network hardware and cabling and a lot of waste and a lot of inadequacies in the process of its overall progress which is amazing. We tend to use the Internet more like MET’s Operatic Soprano Kathleen Battle who once called her manager from her limo to ask him to tell her driver to turn the air conditioning down.
    Does data from point A to point B travel over the shortest distance possible, in a near straight line? Are the network servers switched off when not in use ? Does the network have balanced and optimal cabling ? Why is the bandwidth low in Erode and redundant in Tokyo? Why does some network equipment get overloaded and burst while others have an abysmally low utilization? Do we have everything along the path that talk to each other in the same lanuguage ?
    A team comprising a hardware expert, a network architect and an application programmer would have descended on and spent a day or two with FortiusOne BEFORE the company started up. With such advice this customer would have bought nothing unnecessary and would still be ready to scale up optimally. Internet is the all pervasive customer and is Internet as a Customer receiving the kind of help that FortiusOne or Google is getting in planning its infrastructure the same way?
    What if the Internet had a face and stepped into your office for advise? What would you recommend for infrastructure? Where would you locate the central and satellite and redundant processors? At what locations would you warehouse data and archives ? What would you define as the required level of redundancy? What would you recommend for a hardware shopping list to your customer? What would be the route map that you would draw up for data transfer from Sydney to Buenos Aires? And for Ciudal del Este from Taipei? Would you suggest Cat 7 copper or Optic Fiber with DWDM or Wireless or a combination of all of the above? What goes where? Would you let him let in robots to pump up junk? What would you ask your customer to do to keep the internet entirely free of these rogue robots and almost entirely of humans, identified or identifiable, yet private where and when necessary? What would you offer from your own warehouse and what would you recommend from CISCO and from Microsoft and from IBM and Corning and Apple and Oracle and HP and Dell? Does your customer require a larger AT&T and a new Viacom to be formed? Does he require to spend or invite the businesses and governments to spend more R&D in satellite transmission or in submarine or subterranean cabling? What does your customer have to specify as hardware for its end users for Voice? What would he have to tell the national governments to implement – 2 , 2.5, 3 or 3.5 G? V4 or V6? Wire or Wireless? And what would you do as a business with ample and varied strengths to help this customer with all of the above tasks?
    No one has so far thought of Internet as the customer who needs a computer and cables whose service providers are customers who need computers and cables whose subscribers are customers who need a computer whose employers are customers who need some hardware. So Internet is not just a customer, Internet is THE customer as you have defined. It is a world within a world which embraces several worlds of customers with different needs.
    Where would Sun be without this magnificent customer? Where would Microsoft be? Where would Dell be?
    And where would the Internet be without Sun and Java and Redhat and Windows and Oracle and Dell and HP and IBM and Google and YouTube? Somewhere on a text-only realm, 14.4 KBPS connectivity stream confined to the US Department of Defense and a few select academic institutions with plenty and plenty of money to buy something so luxurious as a computer with 4 M E G A bytes of RAM ….
    It is an inextricable and profound relationship between this customer called Internet that facilitated business opportunites and the Business that caused a wider and affordable expansion of it. This relationship needs a lot more attention. Sun et Cie needs to borrow the business model from the railroad companies which paid a lot more attention to the rail tracks than to the trains that drove along the tracks. Are you paying attention to your customer along these lines? You have been, you are, but a lot more attention is needed. Sun and its Partners can do a lot more than open sourcing software and innovating on hardware.
    Nobody owns the internet. Yet there is a central organization that is taking a comprehensive look and there are organizations to handle IP addresses, domain names and protocols and engineering tasks. Businesses around the world have been doing business with the Internet through these establishments, but none have looked at the customer’s architectural needs from 50,000 feet above ground to figure out what this customer requires in total, comprehensively, periodically, with a definite roadmap for progress, with attention to the problem areas.
    First it is to help this customer on tasks that he finds difficult that you may not. (I believe that Governments and Public Authorities everywhere need a lot of help from the Business and the Individuals) This customer for instance needs help, for instance is a bit concerned about transition from IPV4 to IPV6. If you and Dell and HP and Apple make your computers and components IPV6 ready and send an email each to your customers to switch to IPV6, Internet would be IPV6 faster and sooner. There are several other tasks, so many of them, that the Internet task forces find challenging that you may not. Sun and Partners could participate in greater force in Internet Engineering and Governance, to make Internet optimal and more productive. This customer needs a greater participation from you. Sun could take the lead to make the INTERnet work BETTER.
    Such greater participation would get the Internet past Web 2.0. And eventually you have an even larger customer with even greater needs and a world of customers within, to do business with.
    Internet is the most valuable customer, whether or not personified as an identifiable organization, whether or not the volume of direct business is significant.
    Head wind or tailwind, it doesn’t matter, fly up above the world so high as 50,000 feet above ground and take a look… May be you could invite Berners Lee to get on board….
    Thank you.

  50. Where is my post ?

    It was dayS ago when I clicked "Post" button. Can you fix the "process" as well ?

  51. Ebay webpage no longer states that it’s Java Powered ? Comments Please…

  52. Sun Employee

    Why are we not selling laptops? Enterprise class laptops?

  53. Hi Jonathan
    I agree with the CTO that says it is really hard to make business with Sun. Actually so hard, so difficult and so slow that if you can’t wait 4 weeks to receive your machines better go to HP or IBM where you can get it in one day.
    Please, you know what to do!

  54. merry christmas to you & your family and the Sun team. I’d like to say you guys have done a great work for 2007.

  55. SUNW Private Investor

    We’re all busy. Have you taken a look at the stock price lately? Wow. Ever since the KKR PIPE deal it has been nothing but downhill. I warned you these deals punish shareholders. This one is no different. Looks like 25% off where the deal was announced. Merry Christmas – SPI

  56. Merry christmas to you,your company and your family, good luck always.

  57. happy but frustrated

    Glad I read the post and the comments. Reading the comments made me realize that I am not the only one having problems with buying equipment. What has really struck me was the differences in sales teams between vendors.
    I must admit dealing with one of your vendors sales teams is why I bought their equipment. I love Sun hardware and software but I needed something in a hurry and knew I could not get anything quickly from Sun. Plus there was the incident with the Sun Engineer that said if you really need that info I can spoon feed it to you. I had been working 12 hour days. I wanted to reach through the phone and spoon feed him.
    With your competitors a person comes out and listens. There are always two people one Sales and one an Engineer. They show you exactly what they think you need. Within two days a quote is emailed, and it is what I actually want. Once they get a P.O. they tell the exact day the equipment will arrive and it arrives on time. The difference is striking.
    I know that I am pointing out the bad side. The good side is Sun saved my butt last month. I will definitely remember this. I have put in a P.R. to cover this in the future. Also I have received good support from Sun. Your hardware just seems to run and run. The Solaris OS is nothing short of remarkable.
    Sometimes though I cannot help but think about the Hp versus Tektronix’s battle when I first got started in Tech. Hp equipment was solid never failed and worked great but was not intuitive. It was just the "Hp way". Then Tektronix oscilloscopes and DVM’s came out and they were intuitive and easy to use.
    If you can keep doing what you are doing but put together a great sales force and make parts of the Sun experience more intuitive. You will go very far.
    One last example. Your virtualization versus VMWare. You may be fast, efficient and reliable but VMWare is dead easy.
    You have talked with CIO’s and CTO’s but they are not the guys who are actually managing the date centers. They do not have to spin this stuff up in two days. They do not get paged at 4 am on Sunday. They are not on the ground managing 100+ servers on their own. Those are the guys (gals) that chose Tektronix over Hp.
    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  58. Mark

    Whenever I hear you use the Southwest Airlines 737 analogy, I cringe.
    What you are championing is a technology monoculture.
    Sure, technology monocultures reduce operating expenses, but at the cost of a single threat wiping out the entire technology. In a Microsoft Windows monoculture, that threat might be a software virus. In an airline, it could be a technical problem causing a grounding or suspension of a type certificate (such as happened to the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 after the 1979 Chicago crash).
    Given the 737’s mysterious rudder problems a few years ago (since addressed by FAA mandated modifications to all 737s), a Boeing 737 monoculture can represent a material risk to an airline, just like a software monoculture can represent a material risk to an IT organization.

  59. Jonathan – as a fast growing 3D avatar service at Meez, we’re heavy users of Java, both front (applet) and back-end, but we worry a lot about Sun’s commitment to consumer Java on the PC given that java is a non-factor in social media and appears to be fading in gaming vs the growth of flash. It’s clear that Sun can’t do everything, and you have brought a lot of focus to the company, but even on your blog, I rarely see any mention of consumer-facing java, so I’m not sure of our continuing commitment to java on the front end. Thanks, and Happy Holidays – Sean

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