(Another) Win for Open Storage…

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.)


Filed under General

18 responses to “(Another) Win for Open Storage…

  1. Thanks for the clarification in the small print to the OpenOffice.org community (not OpenOffice – you could say the Community is the dot org in OpenOffice dot org 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    Great news Jonathan! Glad to see you structuring the company for better innovation and success over the me too feeling I have felt for the last couple of years. That said, why the small print on the OpenOffice news? I understand that it appears that you are pulling the rug out from everyone that believed you were really going to support an OSS business, but don’t be sneaky about it. Be bold about it. With the emergence of the Web as a platform, applications of old that may have practiced in a monopolistic market (M$ Office) are being reinvented on the web and a new race is starting. With StarOffice, and your previous work with the StarPortal, now is a better time than ever to take on delivering Office as a Service and it looks like you are taking on that endeavor. Why the apologies .. its just business, right?

  3. Peter

    Good to see Sun’s community starting to enjoy the fruits of their labour, no doubt there’s much more to come, as Sun continues to expand its customer base.
    A growing customer base with smaller individual sales leads to greater financial security, your less subject to the ebb and flow of markets.

  4. Jonathan,
    I’m seeing a lot of marketing from Sun Regarding ZFS and MySQL and T2 and MySQL but why when in the SpecJAppServer benchmarks old fashioned UFS is used as well Intel powered servers:

  5. I congratulate you on this achievement.Today, as India is torn apart with its commercial capital Mumbai under siege, I checked Wikipedia to check what mujahideens were up to.Technology that makes this possible is very relevant and crucial. You are doing a very important job.
    The link I checked is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/26_November_2008_Mumbai_attacks

  6. Speaking of OpenOffice.org… I recently developed Screenwright(R), an OOo template for screenwriters, and it just won a cash award from Sun – thank you!
    If this screenwriting template could be included as an integral part of an upcoming OpenOffice.org 3.x release, it will send a clear signal–to filmmakers in particular and to the Entertainment sector in general–that OpenOffice.org is ready to address the industry’s unique text-processing and -formatting needs. News travels fast among members of the Entertainment industry, and they tend to be the gatekeepers and style leaders for the culture at large.
    To publicize Screenwright(R)’s inclusion in OOo, I propose to set up and run a short screenplay competition under the aegis of Sun/OOo. The winning scripts will be produced and showcased in a YouTube-like display area. I would establish strategic partnerships with a wide range of film schools (such as USC, NYU and UCLA), so their top directing students will have the opportunity to translate the best contest scripts into films. Depending on the number of entries and the size of the entry fee, this project could easily support itself, and even become a (minor) profit center for Sun.
    What do you think, Jonathan?
    Alan C. Baird
    Mesa, Arizona

  7. Akhilesh

    Hi Jonathan, Sorry for not congratulating you for the feat – I feel Sun just doesn’t like customers, the prime reason the company is in red! We inquired about OpenSSO support from Sun India, and was told someone will get back to us with details. It’s been 72 hours and haven’t heard from anyone!
    You know, I’m a big fan of Sun, but haven’t bought any stock yet – reason is that I check how they treat their customers, and I haven’t got any service that makes me smile.
    Hope you’d fix your sales, support and marketing soon before the time runs out.

  8. Boris

    Nice work on new 7k series of storage. Really a move forward from traditional storage, embracing new tehnologies. But why Sun Storage label? Hart of this new product is SSD drive which eliminate the need for storage cache. And in 1978 StorageTek developed the first modern type of solid-state drive. Makes sense to name it StorageTek Unified Storage System, don’t you agree?
    When we can expect to see FC and FEoE connections and FC drives? With price well in end-to-end FC storage solutions range, it is logical te expect this kind of features, optionaly at least. Bottom line, you only need pair of front-end and back-end FC controllers (you allready have FC enclosures).
    Kind regards,

  9. smallbusiness

    I see Sun Sales is a big bottleneck, I have a small business in India, Myself been a geek I love Sun Products and the innovation it brings and wanted the best workstation which Sun has and its been many weeks I am trying to understand how do I get one. I tried the Sun Sales call center, they don’t know anything, they say they will call back, takes the mobile number, all details, and no call till date I receive. They I got to the VAR list published in Sun site and call this guys randomly, They are not approachable at all, I guess they are least helpful. Now out of total frustration, I approaches dell, I go to their website and after giving the quote, they are very prompt in calling and understanding the requirement. I have not yet made the purchase decision. But I seriously think Sun needs to get out of this VARs model or try to improve the customer experience. I love Sun, The sales process needs a complete overhaul and it should be friendlier with small business in their purchase decision.

  10. Jonathan,
    Please setup a contest for all freelance/open source developers to come out with idea’s to make star/openoffice much better product to compete with MS office 2007.
    Setup a penal to review the idea’s Reward who has submitted great idea and if required hire that gut to head the development.
    Remember M$ earns significant money from office suite.
    During this slowdown , what is the motivating factor for IT/CIO to go
    and buy the Sun server? they can still continue to use the old server
    in the market and still be productive.
    I have seen many F500 companies doing such things in the past , they
    go to an extent of even not signing up for AMC.
    over all these things, Ultrasparc has stopped sparking in front of
    AMD/Intel cpu’s, although commodity cpu’s they work faster and better
    then Ultrasprc.
    I have seen only sprc64 cpu’s beat Intel (wood crest) by a margin of
    2-3xbut price for a sprc64 cpu based servers 3-5x more.
    So what can you do to be profitable during this time, answer is get
    into commodity laptop/desktop market, make a deal with AMD/Intel to
    supply CPU’s with good credit (time) ,start retailing the
    laptops/desktops involve your engineering team do better power
    management, make the hardware compatibility for Ubuntu/Mac OsX/Solaris
    10 -x64/ and Windows.
    Make strategy to sell the the basic system offer things like
    wireless/HDMI/card reader etc … with small fee and hardware/software
    code to unlock the feature.
    Come out with Solaris lite(RTOS) for Smartphones/PDA , invest in
    making Looking glass desktop to have smaller memory footprint and
    better user experience, Hire key people from the Open source community
    to this.
    Most important : read this link , don’t fire your employees

  11. Kevin Hutchinson

    Will you be offering open storage as a networked cloud service? The FISHworks interface runs on any web browser anywhere, so you could host the hardware while data owners managed their storage from anywhere.

  12. Steffen Mutter

    Well Johnathan, you do the right things in my opinion, SUN is aware of the OpenSource community and invests a lot of time and education in it. Great!
    But I am not shure if Americans see, that you invest into the right place, but I do. Already most of the applications I use make use of JAVA, nearly everyone knows OpenOffice.org, I use NetBeans for development, EXIST is a JAVA driven XML-database, Tomcat is an extremely powerful webapplication-server and glassfish is another shining community-driven diamond.
    I wish you good luck, hope all your dreams come true next year and you’ll be able to satisfy your investors…

  13. Matt Bryant

    Awesome to see these wins Jonathan – proof positive of your strategy. I hope this goes a long way to silencing the critics who keep asking how Sun is supposed to monetize off open source.
    Also, I received an interesting phone call today – out of the blue – by a Sun sales rep. She thanked me for viewing the Sun Storage 7000 demo videos, and asked if I wanted to know more, view technical information, or trial a unit. What a pleasant surprise to have this happen (I only ever get called by Dell), and it’s what you guys need to do more of. If there ever was a perception that Sun make it difficult for small operations to go with Sun, this is clearly something that you are making an effort to change! 🙂

  14. wikipedia is cool for the internet user. I had always wound me how quickly the wikipedia pages so build. Now I understand. I would also like to test but I have not much space

  15. Ahmed Maawy

    Hi Jonathan,
    It looks like a positive move… The future of cloud computing is in Enterprise Content Management solutions. Sophisticated storage management and optimization solutions are needed here… Now this will align well with Open Source Enterprise Content Management Solutions… You just need to put this in the picture and your definately headed for the cloud. Lets talk about OpenOffice and Open Source ECM alternatives to Microsoft Office and Sharepoint. That will guarantee more revenue and exposure to markets investing into the potential behind cloud computing.

  16. Demographics of a Nation would play a greater role in Tech adoption as younger people are more amenable to learning and new practices.
    Rajeev Vashisht

  17. Software Service is NOT free

    You mentioned that nobody call you back regarding the OpenSSO issue. If you have a ticket number, post it. I guess you have paid Sun for OpenSSO Enterprise edition which including License and Service agreement. Sun should be responsible of solving your issue.
    If you’re using OpenSSO Express Edition which is free and open sourced on Internet, then you are on your own. If somebody in Sun promise you on any official support, it must be a mistake and his/her manager will not allow this happen. For the opensource version, you can only use Opensso forum or Sun’s JavaES forum for help.
    That’s the way Sun make money on software. Now you have a need, pay for it, then Sun’s stock goes up

  18. Z

    Jonathan can you work on adding Mac OS as a choice for your sun ray solution?
    Work with apple or maybe partner with:
    I feel that thin client adoption will accelerate, and you should position your company to get the most out of it. Having the most flexible product will help you … Also some ad campaign would not hurt …. (pc guy and mac guy can be joined by ray, who is way more power efficient)
    I am sure I am not the only one who thought about this…
    As you know the mac is gaining ground on the desktop…

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