Solaris on Wall Street – Faster and Faster

I remember a dinner I had a while back with the CEO of a global financial services firm. As one of his first acts as CEO, he’d cancelled an enormous outsourcing contract, and I’d asked him why – his response has stuck with me. "Banking is a technology business. Pure and simple. I can’t win if I don’t have my own team."

Independent of his views on outsourcing, I’ve heard the same point made by many (but not all) financial services executives – banking (like big swaths of telecommunications, media and retailing) has become a technology business, where every ounce of performance and differentiation matters. Even, and especially, in the midst of market turmoil.

Which is a fitting backdrop for a joint press release we just issued with Intel – in which we achieved a land speed record – a million messages per second, running the Reuters Market Data System on Solaris 10 for Intel silicon (see release for details). To our colleagues at Intel and Thomson Reuters… thank you! Performance = market advantage, energy savings, or datacenter consolidation  – or all of the above. Customers get to pick.

And following up on my last post on the impact of flash memory and ZFS on the world of datacenters, our own Adam Leventhal has added a far more fulfilling technical perspective in Communications of the ACM: Flash Storage Memory.Worth the read…


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22 responses to “Solaris on Wall Street – Faster and Faster

  1. I think CEO was Jamie for JP Morgan.

  2. A million messages a second is awe inspiring.
    But, why on Intel silicon, why not Sun’s itself?

  3. a wise man

    "Banking is a technology business. Pure and simple. I can’t win if I don’t have my own team."
    couldn’t have said it better. ‘Banking’ could be replaced by ‘tech support’ without losing any meaning. Sun should try that and kick EDS to the curb.

  4. doba

    Can I put in a recommendation to speak on 2 subjects in forthcoming entries?
    _ sun ray : When can the average home user take advantage of the low power usage and convenience of the sun ray? Is there reluctance by the cable cos. to adopt? We cant all be running PCs at home forever. Seems like the possibilities are endless with this device, but have yet to see much exposure.
    _ google alliance: much was made of the SUN/GOOGLE teaming up, but since the announcement, i haven’t seen much publicity around anything material.

  5. Jeremy Chappell

    This is great, not just the news (congrats Sun/Intel) but the whole tone. It’s been rather too long since I heard anyone talk about competitive advantage and IT in the same breath. All too often we see It as a cost, one to be squashed, not something that can help a business.
    Sun seems to be concentrating very much on the "unseen" parts of IT – the server room, the data center. That’s great, I can see that. (Don’t you just know there’s a but coming?)
    I’d like to see Sun get serious on the desktop as well. Many of IT biggest problems are on the desktop (ask anyone looking after more than about 10 PCs). Sun seem to have nice offerings in this space (SunRays, or the "traditional" workstation class system). We just don’t seem to hear much about them.
    Seeing openSolaris it looks much like Linux (for a user perspective) a bit crusty in places, but not too bad. (As I say this is from a user perspective, as a long time on/off Solaris user it’s still SunOS to me <grin>)
    Given these products, it seems Sun might be well placed to start attempting to get boxes onto the desk. It seem Novell/Red Hat et al are using to get there – why not Sun Microsystems? Windows simply isn’t cutting the mustard, and servers are great – but we need to connect with something.
    What needs to be done? Well, SunRays seem great – more of those. Ultra20s (or similar) are the old familiar "PC" model for those who can’t imagine SunRays or the (few) who can’t make SunRays work for them.
    Related is the "custom app" problem, IT needs to make application development faster, cheaper and more predictable. The PC (I mean x86/Windows) has killed application development that fueled the industry in the early years, SMEs mostly don’t create applications – it’s too hard, slow and fails too often. Add malware and we can see the PC isn’t serving the industry very well. Sun Microsystems seems well placed to solve these issues. (and if not Sun then who?)
    Java pushed the productivity of programmers in a manor that isn’t always appreciated, I think the cross platform nature of Java over shadows other aspects of the language. I know Java has a lot of detractors these days, but as a product it’s hard to think of one which has had a bigger impact.
    Sun development aimed at business applications for SMEs that used a simpler language but targeted the JVM would be great. Similar innovation in the GUI space would be great.

  6. Rich Forsyth

    Well done Jonathan! I am glad to hear that some rational thought is being taken into consideration at the highest levels in regards to outsourcing. While it is a good fit in some situations, there is too much of the "me too" with outsourcing. A recent Fortune 500 bank is outsourcing now and their justification, as far as I could distill, was that "all our other peers are well ahead of us in using outsourcing, so now we will too." They mentioned ongoing cost savings, but with inflation of wages in India and other outsoucing destinations, the ongoing savings will disappear shortly. And then, where do you go, insourcing what you just outsourced? By that point, your competitive advantage is gone and you are behind the game again.
    Thanks for bring your insight from the higghest levels to light for us. Keep up the excellent work.

  7. Anantha

    Lou Gerstner of IBM (AmEx prior to that) was one of the first to recognize that financial industry to a large extent is technology business. He stated as such in his book ‘Who says elephants …’ when he said to a large extent AmEx is a large IT operation.
    I also think Jamie Dimon is the CEO that Jon is referring to in his post. JPM had the sense to back down from a multi-year multi-billion dollar outsourcing deal with IBM. Regardless it is the right thing for JPM; if you can’t control your most critical resource (IT in this case) then you won’t be competitive.

  8. doba

    Continuation of my list on topics to address here.
    _ Samsung’s Instinct: This baby is Java driven and from early reactions will be as popular as Apple’s offering. Tried to find some publicity about the instinct here at and all I find is this blog.
    I have an Instinct and I rarely get amped about gadgets, but this one is an IPOD, TV, Garmin/TomTom w/ voice recognition, Web/Email Client and not to mention a beautifully designed, usable phone at affordable $.
    Can Sun help drive development on the Instinct much the same way Sprint is doing (
    Can someone blog more about Java’s mobile capabilities?
    This phone is a huge endorsement of what Java can do on the mobile platform.

  9. Kevin

    Nice work with Intel. Any news about your Rock processor?

  10. Pieter V

    Here in Amsterdam ( we have an advanced mobile network. Now we need a WIMAX enabled Sun Ray device for shopping, sharing and banking.
    Pieter V

  11. Seems the market crash is affecting the blog postings too. The decison taken by the CEO is right. At a very basic level, I have known from my American friends that some times the service that they get through outsourcing is very frustrating. Sometimes when they are getting credit cards, they come with misspelt names and are of no use. At this stage with huge debts the outsourcing trend might reverse. Global market seems to be heading for a never before crash. I overheard people talking, the jist was- "First people came up with globalisation and we started having all the brands here. Now they are hurting because of outsourced jobs and the haywire market. They are suffering and making the rest of world suffer because of the debts they have accumulated."This is how people are viewing this enormous recession. Recently, I’ve noticed that IBM is hiring in India at a massive scale. How they plan to sustain during this recession is a mystry. Strange patterns in global economy.
    The point you made about the training is very relevant as when the outsourced work force is not trained the whole process will eventually backfire with critical errors adding up to a damaged image and losses.
    Was reading the ‘Google story,’I read this morning that they used Lenux as the operating system, was amazed, how much Google saved initially using the open source. Their model never ceases to amuse, it’s pure technology mixed with the corner shop approach of soild profits by processing millions of advertisements and earning zillions of dollars.
    Please give Sun rays a global market so that there is an impact on the energy resources. As usual an interesting post. Happy Independence Day to all the American friends!

  12. Quite impressive
    There is a new Open Solaris users group for New York City – highly recommended for anyone in the area.
    Such innovations are discussed as soon as they occur.
    This good news will surely be analyzed next meeting

  13. I am reading: ‘….I’ve heard the same point made by many (but not all) financial services executives – banking (like big swaths of telecommunications, media and retailing) has become a technology business, where every ounce of performance and differentiation matters…’
    and I am scratching my head when reading this here from your CIO, Bob Worrall:
    ‘… For example, after transition costs, we’re seeing about 30 percent run-rate savings through the outsourcing of our application maintenance and development function. As far as productivity goes, the returns depend on the outsourcing contract, but the productivity improvements average somewhere between 3 and 5 percent annually. …’
    I am pretty certain that CIO’s in the various areas you are mentioning know hot to use their spreadsheets. I am really wondering why Sun is taking a different approach. Over the last seven years, Sun has outsourced around 1200 IT positions.
    Sun Microsystems is in the technology business. Pure and simple. I can’t win if I don’t have my own team."

  14. Top five strategy questions to Jonathan and Co..
    1. Is Sun+Opensource focusing on small to medium enterprise customers?
    2. Is Sun+Oracle+Accenture focusing on large customers? this is the only way to compete with IBM and HP
    3. When is Sun going to make Sun Ray a mainstream home use device with ubuntu as the OS? Can Sun Ray take the form of a laptop? I’m not a systems expert..please make this happen 🙂
    4. Is Sun working on wireless gadgets, if not with ~2B R/D budget it should otherwise the train will leave the station 🙂
    5. Is generating revenue? how come amazon WS is so popular and isn’t 😦
    Flash memory on Servers, great one can come even close with ideas like this. Good luck.

  15. [Trackback] Looking at flash storage memory in a techinical perspective. “Worth the read”.[Via Jonathan Schwartz][Link]

  16. about Sun Ray

    it is not a revenue generating product (you can get the software for nuthin’ and all you need are the desktop units), so it gets no traction. It reminds me of a large pharma company that doesn’t spend any time or $$ on something like a malarial drug b/c there is no financial return or incentive, even though doing so could benefit humanity.
    also have to agree with the outsourcing comments here. Once "Dilbert" takes on a topic like outsourcing as they have done with the "Elbonia" and "Dogbert’s Tech Support" cartoons, it’s all over. Come to think of it Dilbert has also done "mgmt by spreadsheet", "mgmt dashboards", etc. Is there a lesson here?

  17. Did you possibly realize Reuters Market Data System is implemented using TIBCO software and you’re actually making a case for a competitor ? Maybe you’re aware of JavaCAPS, which is quickly becoming the most advanced, performing and integrated integration toolset, and unfortunately also one of the most neglected and misunderstood by it’s own supplier.

  18. service customer

    "Pure and simple. I can’t win if I don’t have my own team."
    A great quote and I wish Sun would think this way with their support service.
    Bring back the days when I could call Sun Service and always get a real engineer for assistance, not some outsourced "body" that isn’t able to do much more than answer the phone. The actual Sun employees in the support center are great when you get to them after getting past the outsourced drones. Bring back the dynamite service that Sun was known for and dump the service "partners" that are ruining your reputation.

  19. Care to comment on the Oracle acquisistion of BEA and its impact on your Middleware and developer market, specifically Sun’s Java vs JRockit (
    How are you going to compete with Oracle might, money, marketshare, and margin when it comes to middleware and developer mindshare going forward?

  20. I think the key to winning in the "providing technology and systems in financial services" game is to be able to position the offering according to whatever they’re looking for at any particular time. In my experience, many of the decision makers in this field are: a) rather clueless; and b) have unjustifiably high opinions of themselves. Not a great combination 😉
    As a result, poor decision-making abounds. One minute they outsource. Then they undermine their outsourcing partners, so they can’t deliver. So they bring the service "captive" again. Then costs skyrocket. Then they outsource again…. and undermine the partner again. Then they decide to bring the service captive again – this time off-shore. Then they find they can’t off-shore the service effectively, and over-staff it to the point of costs sky-rocketing.
    The point is: whatever they do tends to fail by any objective measure, because they have no idea what on earth they’re doing! Shocking but, I’m afraid, true.

  21. Martin Pellam

    Curious – I work for a major Fortune company, and we’re in the process of putting Oracle on a "sunset" list of restricted vendors. No new applications are allowed on Oracle, the only approved vendors are Sun/MySQL and Microsoft/SQL Server. So I don’t know how Sun did that, but if their objective was to provide competition for Oracle, it appears to have worked with my management…

  22. Dolf Lundgren

    How is Q4 looking?

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