Wikipedia is one of the world’s most visited web sites (8th in the top 10, in fact), delivering an enormous breadth of content to an audience as vast as the internet.
But Wikipedia’s evolved to become more than an on-line encyclopedia: they’ve become one of the world’s largest search engines, they’re a global source of real-time news, alongisde educational, political and health related content – and one of the world’s most valuable brands and media properties.
Wikipedia’s also a great example of a “redshift” application: a segment of the market that’s growing faster than the technology industry’s capacity to innovate. Technology companies have to pay special attention to such redshifted segments – not only do they eventually grow the overall market, but their innovation often drives the technology landscape. Broadly speaking, social media, from free news and social networking, to search and content sharing, is doing exactly that – defining new architectures and requirements for radical scale, economics and availability.
So I was really pleased that Wikimedia had chosen Sun’s Open Storage platforms over proprietary alternatives, to help manage their evolution to rich media – bringing high quality video and time based content to their more than 250,000,000 users globally. That’s a big audience waiting to upload – and interact with – high quality content.
Like Wikipedia, most of the planet’s largest web sites (just look at the top 100) are built atop Sun’s MySQL database. Which is why we’ve just introduced a line of systems platform designed specifically to run MySQL – at up to 3x the performance of whitebox alternatives (after all, it’s far easier marketing to audiences that have already chosen Sun). We’re now expanding those offerings with our newest Open Storage portfolio, as well – built to run ZFS from 5 to 50x traditional performance. And again, all such systems are available here for free trial – pick the system you want to try, we’ll cover shipping costs to and from your site.
And while I’m on the topic of systems… I’ve been asked for insights into our recent software reorganization, in which we announced three main focus groups (a Systems group, an Applications group, and a Cloud group). Why’d we make that change?
First, look no further than this win for one of my main motivations: I’d like to enhance the value and alignment we offer to customers that want to run our system software (like MySQL and ZFS) at very high scale – and require, from Sun and our OEM partners, the tightest possible technical collaboration and alignment between hardware and software.
Second, this move amplifies the obvious (at least to us): the storage market will be larger than the server market, but you may not be able to tell – they’re converging, built from the same systems software and hardware components (networking will follow the same path, more on that in the future).
Finally, adoption and software distribution/marketing is different than revenue generation. And with the adoption of ZFS well underway, technical and business alignment have become our dominant priorities. It’s at the heart of what’s fueling one of Sun’s fastest growing businesses (ZFS based Open Storage was up more than 150% last quarter, growing far faster than our proprietary peers).
How large is the redshift opportunity? It’s not just businesses like Wikipedia that are defining new scale requirements for the industry. It’s the on-line bank I saw last week, now serving more than 100m accounts globally – contemplating the addition of video chat for customer service. It’s the government customer I just visited trying to deliver driver’s license and passport renewal services to hundreds of millions of its citizens. The term redshift describes applications, not customers (remember, even Wikipedia has payroll – not exactly a redshift application).
In an openly networked world, redshift applications begin to equate to social phenomena – and social phenomena don’t respect your IT budget. Which is to say, neither a 10 person startup, nor a 10,000 person retailer want to go broke buying software licenses and storage, just because they’ve struck a chord with the planet. Which is increasingly why both sides of the industry are moving to open source.
And open storage.
(And with apologies to the OpenOffice community – we are not going to be inserting ads into OpenOffice.org – we’re creating partnerships to brand and promote StarOffice, and the cloud we’re developing behind it.)