Tuesday, September 30, 2003

NewsForge: What Sun needs to do now to survive ... - by Chris Preimesberger - Yesterday's news about Sun Microsystems' huge net loss of $1.04 billion in its fiscal Q4 -- and more of the same expected for this current quarter -- puts squarely on the table some serious business issues that the company needs to address now if it intends to survive. ................ Summary: Good article, but is anyone listening? I don't think so. There seems to be near unanimous opinion that Sun doesn't listen to customers. So why should they listen to a long time admirer who gets it and is truly saddened by their demise? Sun wants to sell Solaris, not Linux. Meanwhile, their customers are moving to Linux in droves. So instead of becoming the finest integrated Linux – Solaris – Win9x Stack provisioner on earth, which is what their customers want, Sun stomps their feet, yelling at customers that they will forever be sorry they ever saved a bundle finally solving their enterprise interoperability problems by going to IBM. Go figure. But i've got other issues with Sun that were not mentioned in this fine article. They could have saved the world! When i heard the news about Sun's most recent initiative, The Java Enterprise System, i could have cried. What the hell are they thinking? At first glance, the JES, with it's Java Desktop configuration is cause for great excitement. I'm thinking to myself that Microsoft is charging towards a massively integrated XP Stack model for their next generation of computing. A complete end to end Microsoft only solution if ever there was one. And here comes Sun, with a beautifully engineered Java Stack initiative. Integration and interoperability top to bottom, including the desktop. Finally! Someone who gets it. Or so i thought. I'm thinking to myself that finally Sun is going to challenge Microsoft layer by layer up and down the XP Stack of integrated operating systems, productivity applications, developer tools, Middle ware, tightly bound server suites, and the .NET framework. What i find instead though is that Sun has decided to challenge Linux? What the? Sun has a choice i guess. They could decide to protect their big UNiX turf from migrating to a heterogeneous environment where Linux servers take on more and more of the enterprise load. Or, they could take the same exact Java Enterprise System and go after the great herd of over 350 Million Win9x users Microsoft is trying to migrate to the final solution, the XP Stack end game. Sun chose to protect their big UNiX turf from Linux. And i am in tears. I wonder what would have happened if Sun had taken the exact same JES strategy and said, “We're going to give our existing clients the best set of highly engineered choices ever offered. Solaris or Linux. Get the maximum ROI for the job at hand without compromising the integration of your enterprise stack. You decide. We deliver.” What would happen if Sun came out and said that they were going to push Solaris up the stack to mission critical services. And become the finest Linux provider in the burgeoning arena of integrated stack providers? If they had taken a pro Linux, pro GPL, anti SCO approach (like IBM), and decided to service the pants off their existing client base rather than shove proprietary turnstiles down their throats, is they had taken this approach wouldn't their clients think twice before switching to IBM? Linux isn't Sun's problem. It's their inability to compete with companies like IBM who know that if they don't provide customers with faster, better, cheaper integrated systems, someone else will. Linux is like the climate. It's there. Learn to do business in an open source climate, or head for the caves. Sun chose the caves. The coming release of XP Office 2003 is the capstone to the XP Stack strategy. To realize the next generation collaborative computing features of XP Office, users have to have Microsoft servers. A common XP Server suite would include Exchange, SharePoint, and Server 2003 with Active Directory. The cascading entanglement of interdependencies the XP Stack environment will spawn is breathtaking. To make use of any of the advanced features, “all” collaborating users must be running the entire stack. This is end game. Once users cross that XP line with XP Office 2003, those XP servers are going to start showing up in the glass house by necessity. From there it's just a matter of time until Microsoft takes it all. Sun no doubt suffers from the traditional UNiX hubris that no desktop vendor could ever mount a big iron challenge. For the life of me i can't imagine that anyone would underestimate Chairman Bill. But here we go again. Microsoft has proven time and again that the desktop user interface “is” the point of control for all access to information systems. They were willing to murder Netscape and savage Java to protect their control over that interface. Having legally established that they own the Windows platform and can do what they want, Microsoft's is about to teach the big iron guys a lesson, and extend their influence right into the server room without a competitive peep. Do the J2EE and UNiX crowd really think they will be able to whip saw the XP Stack in the same way they could integrate with Win9x? IMHO, the interdependencies built into the XP Stack are so entangling, no one will know where the J2EE stopped and the .NET stuff began. By the time they figure it out, it will be too late. The thing to do is of course go after the 350 Million Win9x users that Microsoft absolutely must migrate to the XP Stack if they are to succeed. The great herd “is” the monopoly! And they've left it hanging out to dry. Sun put their money and engineering efforts into three critical community movements, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla.org, and Java. I thought for sure they were lining things up to challenge Microsoft for the right and privilege of moving the great Win9x herd into the next generation of collaborative computing. Why else spend so much time and effort on key cross platform productivity areas? Yet, here they are. The stars are aligned in Sun's favor. The moment to pounce has come. 350 Million users in the balance. Nearly the entire Microsoft monopoly! And Sun decides that now is the time to stop Linux? I would go to the nearest pub and drown my self in a brew of sorrow. But i think the place will be filled with Sun engineers, drowning in their own river of tears. What do you do when the guys making the decisions just don't get it? We have met the enemy, he is us. He is all of us who have steadfastedly believed in Sun management, when there was every indication that they are simply not up to the task. They just don't get it. ~ge~

Monday, September 29, 2003

Linux Under Lock & Key: Comment: This InformationWeek article, "HP's Big Bet", champions HP's offer to indemnify HP Linux customers in response to SCO threats. Well gee whiz, SCO also champions HP's offer and wonders what the other Linux distros are waiting for. To me the HP indemnification strips Linux users of all the open source “GPL” attributes that make Linux so much better than proprietary alternatives. HP strips out the GPL by repackaging the code under their indemnification terms. Leaving users with Linux the operating system ~ application host, but dependent on HP. No thanks. This is a shallow scheme to destroy the GPL, and all the open source communities dependent upon GPL protection. A protection from proprietary companies bent on raping, pillaging, and plundering the bloom of open source community efforts. Linux with hand cuffs? You have to ask yourself why SCO is urging Linux distributors to “indemnify” their customers the same way HP has. Why would SCO compliment HP for properly protecting their customers, and in the same breath diss IBM who has legally taken SCO to task and is defending in court the provisions of the GPL? Something is rotten in Utah, and InformationWeek has bought into the stink. The HP indemnification strips the open source freedoms from Linux, leaving HP users with a proprietary packaging putting HP in control of Linux based information infrastructures. No wonder SCO and Sun are rushing o indemnify. These companies are hemorrhaging. UNiX shops are embracing Linux at the low ends of their enterprise stacks, and the cabal of SCO, HP and Sun fully realize that there is no way to box in Linux unless they can lock up user access to the source code. In that way they can control the implementation and integration interfaces so critical to keeping the money train of their costly UNiX solutions rolling. The simple truth is that for proprietary vendors, the GPL transfers to users more than just the source code. It transfers control. Control over the future of their information systems. Someone correct me if i'm wrong here, but the issue of indemnification, phony as it is, is based on the thinking that Linux users are concerned about being caught up in the SCO extortion scheme. Indemnification from SCO extortion comes by way of a warranty stating that the Linux distro provider will cover legal and licensing expenses. Of course this would make it easy for SCO to coerce protection fees. This is an easy decision for bean counters to make. The effect of this is to officially sanction extortion for the use of open source community efforts. Your article makes the incredible insinuation that somehow this legal indemnification is common with all proprietary licenses, in stark contrast to the GPL. “.......... While it's common for makers of proprietary software to protect customers from intellectual-property infringement claims, such protection hasn't been offered with open source because the software's lineage isn't as clear cut, says Melise Blakeslee, a partner with law firm McDermott, Will & Emery. With open source, she says, users are getting the software "as is." HP's offer to take responsibility for any SCO Group claims will likely reassure customers, Blakeslee says........” What a load of crap! It is not “common for makers of proprietary software to protect customers from intellectual-property infringement claims” beyond the purchase price of the software! There is simply no equivalence between the purchase cost refund “protection” proprietary vendors warrant in their EULA's, and the legal – extortion licensing scheme SCO, HP, Microsoft and Sun have hung on the GPL Linux indemnification issue. Who in their right mind would call the common EULA “indemnification”? Oh yeah. There are those who seek to so totally confuse everyone so that they stop asking questions about saving money, complying with open standards, demanding open interfaces, and seeking end to end integration of the many costly but disconnected sub systems that comprise their information infrastructure. ~ge~