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Sun Microsystems Businesses Red Hat Software The Almighty Buck

Sun Plans Solaris Subscription Model 152

Posted by Hemos
from the change-their-models dept.
heliocentric writes "As reported in this CNet article. In an effort to make its version of Unix compare more favorably to Red Hat's Linux, Sun Microsystems plans in coming weeks to begin selling its Solaris operating system through a subscription model." On the down side, there was coverage of the announced layoffs, as well as the MSFT case being won. The article makes a good point, that Sun has reinvented itself before, and that no one should write Sun off.
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Sun Plans Solaris Subscription Model

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  • What the article's author doesn't get is that maybe Redhat is not so much succesfull because they have a subscription model, but more because their is direct interaction with their userbase (fedora) and the source is Open. A subsciption fee based model tends to be *really* good for the vendor (guaranteed, known cashflow that you can put on the books as revenue) and not so good for the end-user (expensive, bad for your cashflow). I'm sure that this time, the users have wisened up, and are using Linux.

    also, the MSFT case wasn't *won* it was settled...
    • by phaze3000 (204500) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:56AM (#8768081) Homepage
      Realistically though, this move would seem to be targetted at stopping existing Sun customers from migrating to Linux rather than tempting RedHat customers away. As Sun's customerbase is geared more towards the higher end of the market I suspect they are less likely to be swayed by arguments about openness.

      Having said this, it's not like Sun doesn't use openness when it suits them - Gnome (Sun Java Desktop) being a good example.

    • by steve_l (109732) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:06AM (#8768140) Homepage
      I'd argue something different: RedHat's current subscription-only policy is going to kill it if they keep it up.

      If the current pricing model of RedHat is relaly such that Solaris or Windows costs *less* that a RedHat sub, then it is in trouble.

      I know I will get pointed at fedora, but given that fedora kills the network on a any laptop whose network is on a PC-card, isnt supported by all those binary things I use (nvida, vmware), I dont view it as a broadly tested or stable enough solution to work with.

      Sun are just going to put pricing pressure on RedHat; the real test is what penetration Novell/SuSE linux has. If a version backed by the suits gets picked up by the PC vendors and sold mainstream, it can put serious pressure on RedHat's position as "the" north american commercial Linux distro.

      Sun are probably still doomed, either way :)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "know I will get pointed at fedora, but given that fedora kills the network on a any laptop whose network is on a PC-card, isnt supported by all those binary things I use (nvida, vmware), I dont view it as a broadly tested or stable enough solution to work with."

        Just wanted to point out that this is a problem particular to your system not "any laptop". Fedora defintely works with Laptop PC-cards and can run the binary things you mentioned, ie nvidia just fine. I don't know why your saying that you can't si
      • As far as I am concerned, Fedora loses because of it's antiquated and extremely limited set of applications. They aren't *that* antiquated (python 2.1.1, I think) but the *are* that limited. Most of my current work would be impossible on Fedora, because the don't have packages for, e.g., audacity (well, impossible is too strong a word .. it would be significanly more difficult as I would need to track down an extended string of dependencies for a number of packages, compile them form source, work out solu
        • you do know of course there are a fist full of repositories right? I've not needed to download anything from the net unless I want newer/older versions. BTW audacity is in the fedora.us repo under unstable so you can uncomment that line. or get the stable one from freshrpm's yum repository.
          http://fedora.artoo.net/faq/samples/yum.conf
          I use that yum.conf just uncomment things you want and yum update it.
          • I have uncommented that line, and I still didn't see it as an option (but PyGame is equally important, and so are a few other applications).

            Still, the next time I boot that partition, I'll have to look again. I though I had uncommented that line, but it wouldn't hurt to check again. I searched FreshRPMS and the list available was quite small, and missing some that I use regularly. Red Hat 9 definitely had these packages, so I was rather shocked that the list was so small. OTOH, I've never heard of arto
      • fedora kills the network on a any laptop whose network is on a PC-card

        Got any evidence? There's a bunch of laptops round here using pccard ethernet adapters fine. You may have found a bug, but its likely limited to a specific hardware combo. RHEL may also suffer from that bug, as well as other distros.

        isnt supported by all those binary things I use (nvida, vmware)

        These both work fine on Fedora. I've been using them regularly.

        Besides, you could always download Whitebox. Same software, same 5 years of
    • Solaris has also lost ground as the must universally supported UNIX platform. Once upon a time Solaris could charge what it wanted for it's O.S. because to play thier game you had to pay their prices.

      Instead of quacking and crying about it - instead of trying to corner Linux and OSS out of the Market, Sun has done quite the opposite. First, they work with OSS to try and make sure that popular OSS projects work on their platform [sunfreeware.com]. At the same time, they started offering their current O.S. as a free (or nominal) download [sun.com].

      Second (Sun re-invention, part II) they started selling x86 systems with Solaris x86 _AND_ Linux support. This plays on Sun's old-school strength of being known as a very reliable hardware vendor (less true now, but their reputation is still strong).

      Finally, (re-invention part III) they are moving their Solaris OS (the preferred OS for their SPARC hardware) into a subscrption model that more closely resembles what RedHat has to offer. I highly doubt that this has any more reason than to more closely align sun's two product lines (Solaris and Linux).

      Part 1 that I mention happened way back in '94-'96.

    • I don't think it was RedHat's open source model or subscription model that has made them successful. I believe it was because back in the day they had one of the easiest installers to use which gained them market share. If debian or slackware had "better" installers then who knows which distro would be the "redhat" of today.

      Not trying to start a distro flame war here. I personally prefer slackware but this is just how I see it. :/
      • Installers... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Allen Zadr (767458)
        Very insightful from my point of view... In fact having frequently installed Solaris back in the early days ('95) - RedHat was the first Linux distribution that came out with an installer that was ALMOST as friendly as the one Solaris came with. (Just the facts).

        Because of the installer, RedHat was MANY folks' first Linux distribution. And I too love Slackware, but I can't use it universally because of it's lack of Oracle support.

    • I don't think the fact that it open Source is a major reason for using RedHat over the Solaris. It is more of an issue that RedHat and Linux in particular run on more affordable hardware. And that with one copy you can copy it to other systems legally.
      As for subscriptions it is sometimes good for the companies as well. Because it can save money in the accounting area. It is much easier and cheaper to maintain a small monthly fee then going threw the processing of purchasing the full version at full cost b
    • passthecrackpipe writes A subsciption fee based model tends to be ...not so good for the end-user (expensive, bad for your cashflow).

      Actually it can be good for a company that has trouble coming up with great whacks of cash for upgrades, so long as the subscription fee is both

      • fair for the value received and
      • low enough to allow savings to finance a change-over.
      I'm biased, but $50-$100 per seat per year sounds good to me.

      --dave

  • Sun (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kailden (129168)
    I'm not writing them off...I'm investing in them. But I'd wish people would stop using the 'Sun Rises' play on words.
    • Re:Sun (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Allen Zadr (767458)
      Tired plays not-withstanding, perhaps the 'Sun' is setting.

      Seriously, Sun's hardware reliability is getting worse, they are selling Linux on their systems - and for quite some time they are no longer the 'dot' in dot com*. Their x86 server offering is not yet well suited to compete with Dell and HP for Linux server hardware either.

      *Way back when - Sun used to be the hardware behind one of the Top Level Domain - DNS servers. J.ROOTSERVERS.NET, IIRC. Anyway, that was short lived, and they were quickly rep

    • Sun's stock has dropped upwards of 95% from their high of just above $60. That's not what I would call a healthy company to invest in.
  • Sun and Microsoft (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Zero_K (606548)
    First both Sun and Microsoft invest in SCO, after it *trys* to get freaky with linux. Then Sun and Microsoft settle some lawsuits, which ends up with MS forking over serious money (in the order of 1 billion). And now this. Now they try to pull some pay for updates crap. They sound more and more like one company the more time goes by. It would be interesting to see how much stock MS owns of Sun, if any ofcourse.
    • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:20AM (#8768219) Homepage

      "I've never looked at Microsoft or Sun in detail, and run all of my assumptions from Slashdot"

      "On Slashdot I only read the articles about Linux and hate SCO with a religious fanaticism, all of my views on software companies are therefore based on the SCO case"

      "I have been working in Software only a few years and have no understanding of the history of either Sun, Microsoft or IBM and am not aware of what Sun actually does"

      I'm sorry to be so rude, but to base an opinion on either Sun and MSFT around the SCO case is like saying that Sony and Philips are the same company because of the Intertrust case.
    • Well Sun is a big supporter of Linux and they are a big supporter for Unix. Sun and myself doesn't see this as a conflict, Use Linux for what Linux is good for use Unix for what it is good for. I personally don't think Sun wants to be in this battle. That is why they paid SCO so they can continue doing business without having to choose sides (especially with IBM). The People at Sun Don't like Microsoft but they have to do business with them, same as for Apple, IBM, ..., ... A subscription plan isn't alw
    • by Anonymous Coward
      First both Sun and Microsoft invest in SCO, after it *trys* to get freaky with linux.

      This is getting tedious. Tell me, when you buy gas, are you "investing" in Shell Oil? When you buy a PC from HP are you "investing" in HP? Not in any normal sense of the word. Sun didn't "invest" in SCO, they licensed driver technology [eweek.com]. That isn't hard to understand. As is common in multimillion dollar deals Sun did get warrants to allow them to buy stock, but a warrant isn't stock, it is a right to invest if they choos
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Their problems are very real and very severe, but I would say they are far from terminal."

    Am I the only one who groaned?

  • Dind't they give it for free some time ago?
    • Re:For free (Score:5, Informative)

      by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:07AM (#8768147)
      Dind't they give it for free some time ago?

      Solaris 8 used to be free. Solaris 9 has some funky license (unless they've changed it again) where it's free for single processors and then you pay per processor slot capable on multiple processor capable systems. I.e. a dual CPU capable system with one processor still pays dual CPU prices, a 64 CPU capable Starfire pays the 64 CPU price even if you have 12 CPUs, etc. Here I was advocating going back to Sun because of Red Hat's incredibly high Linux pricing for servers.. I guess we might as well stay with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the cheaper Intel hardware. Sun has you coming and going with their overpriced hardware and now charging high prices for the OS.

      • Re:For free (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Solaris 8 used to be free. Solaris 9 has some funky license (unless they've changed it again) where it's free for single processors and then you pay per processor slot capable on multiple processor capable systems.

        Sun changed the license to the current one in Solaris 8 with the later releases.

        The license costs only hit you if you buy used hardware. Sun includes the cost of the license if you buy the hardware from them. I suspect that there aren't a lot of places trying to buy and use E10k systems on a
      • I.e. a dual CPU capable system with one processor still pays dual CPU prices

        Where did you read this, because I'm pretty sure this is wrong. Sun sells CPU license upgrades at their on-line store. If everyone bought license for "capability", then why bother selling upgrades for added CPUs?

        Solaris 9 is free for Sun-provided hardware. Second hand hardware needs a right-to-use (RTU) license, which is about $100 for a single CPU. Given that Windows 98 and XP still sell for $100, Solaris 9 is a good deal.
    • Dind't they give it for free some time ago?

      For some definitions of "free", you can still download it from Sun's download site [sun.com].
    • Java Enterprise System is not Solaris. From http://wwws.sun.com/software/javaenterprisesystem / datasheet.html#5 (Java Enterprise System Datasheet)

      Components

      * Java System Directory Server 5.2
      * Java System Identity Server 6.2
      * Java System Directory Proxy Server 5.2
      * Java System Application Server Platform Edition 7
      * Java System Application Server Standard Edition 7
      * Java System Message Queue Platform Edition 3.5
      * Java System Message Queue Enterprise Edition 3.5
      * Ja
  • More money for SCO? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cpghost (719344) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:55AM (#8768074) Homepage

    Hasn't Sun Microsystems licensed Unix code from SCO? Wouldn't a Solaris subscription funnel even more money to SCO (even though that would only be an unintentional side effect)?

    • by zz99 (742545)
      Hasn't Sun Microsystems licensed Unix code from SCO? Wouldn't a Solaris subscription funnel even more money to SCO

      No. Sun bought itself free a couple of years ago
      • Sun's license terms came about quite a while ago when Sun and AT&T had a stock swap. The idea of a Sun/AT&T merger sent shivers through the UNIX industry leading to OSF which brought us OSF/1 (which only DEC used) and Motif which everyone used and almost everyone hated.

        As far as I know Sun is the only vendor with such a license where they can distribute UNIX without paying royalties to anyone.

        To me this brings up a thought. Assume that SCO wins their lawsuit saying that there is UNIX technology
  • Basic Disagreements (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) *

    The article makes a good point, that Sun has reinvented itself before, and that no one should write Sun off.

    Pfft, really now? If Sun has *really* truly reinvented itself, and has started to see the light of things, then why is Java still not Open Sourced?

    The subscription plan will make it clear that Solaris costs less than Linux and will dovetail with Sun's argument that its version of Unix performs better as well.

    To be (a software vendor), or not to be (be a hardware vendor instead). That is the

    • by Albanach (527650) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:23AM (#8768243) Homepage
      Come on Sun. Make a good archetecture, and put your best efforts into making BSD / Linux run well on it. Solaris may possibly be destined to the dead path of SCO Unix. Learn from IBM.

      Sure, because the world will be so much better with fewer operating systems to choose from? IBM still offer commercial, propriety Unix alongside Linux. Sun offer exactly the same with Solaris and the Sun Java Desktop.

      Choice isn't a bad thing. We should be glad Sun are around and the choice is still there. For big companies (think banks or car manufacturers) who have reputations and $billions on the line, there will always be a market for big iron with a custom *nix to run on top of it. IBM offer it, as do Sun.

      Sun seem to have ahd a really hard time over their settlement with / victory over Microsoft. Folk need to remember that Sun is a public company. That means the Board cannot turn down a settlement on the basis of not liking Microsoft. The directors are legally required to deliver the best value for their shareholders. That means is Microsoft offer to settle on better terms than Sun were demanding they have no choice but to accept that settlement. Not to do so would see them lose their jobs and possibly end up in court.

      • "Sure, because the world will be so much better with fewer operating systems to choose from? IBM still offer commercial, propriety Unix alongside Linux. Sun offer exactly the same with Solaris and the Sun Java Desktop."

        Don't forget that Sun also sells Linux based hardware. They just entered the market 4 years after IBM (AIX), HP (HP/UX and Tru64), SGI/Cray (Irix), etc.

        For all your talk about Sun's board and value... Java makes no sense from a core competancy point of view. Java is now no more than real

    • Java and other solutions from Sun like themselves a little too much. They implement enormously complex solutions to problems that could generally be solved with simpler solutions to prove that Sun's engineers are better than those of every other company on the planet. It doesn't matter that someone else may have solved the problem with a much simpler and more elegant solution, if it wasn't invented at Sun, it's not even worth considering. Sun would create a multi-million dollar laser-cooled refridgerator wh
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Pfft, really now? If Sun has *really* truly reinvented itself, and has started to see the light of things, then why is Java still not Open Sourced?

      And who says Open Sourcing Java is the light? Sun's business decisions may not reflect your ideals as a user/developer. We don't live in a perfect world!
  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto.connexer@com> on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:57AM (#8768082) Homepage

    "In an effort to make its version of Unix compare more favorably to Red Hat's Linux, Sun Microsystems plans in coming weeks to begin selling its Solaris operating system through a subscription model."

    I would be more concerned about a possible unfavorabe comparison with MS. Both MS and Sun sell proprietary operating systems. They would need to tread carefully to not scare off the folks that have started considering *nix alternatives to keep Microsoft's tentacles out their bank accounts.

    Sun also needs to make it clear to people that they are really paying for support (with a small bit for licensing) and not the MS-style license renewal. Otherwise a comparison with RHAT is not valid.


    • I would be more concerned about a possible unfavorabe comparison with MS. Both MS and Sun sell proprietary operating systems.

      True, but Sun also offers an open-source OS, i.e. one from each camp (so to speak). MS offers only proprietary/closed-source* OSs.

      * Recent compromises and other goings-on notwithstanding.
    • and don't forget that Microsoft* and RedHat (and SCO) are software companies first, where Sun (like IBM and HP) has always been a Hardware company first. Solaris, Java and Star/OpenOffice were all conceived** to sell more hardware. (although for the latter two - they only help boost Linux usability).

      *The Microsoft Mouse, notwithstanding - I have one hooked onto every Linux box I run.

      **StarOffice was purchased by StarDivision, a German software company. But it's purchase was originally in the interest o

  • Massive R&D (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wytcld (179112) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:02AM (#8768116) Homepage
    Saw an academic's analysis of Sun lately along the lines of "Sun is spending massively on R&D. Why is Sun doing this instead of copying the successful strategies of HP and IBM? Sun should pull the money out of R&D and immediately better its bottom line while lowering the costs of its products."

    And I think, didn't Sun get to be where it once was by catching the front of the wave of network computing (become Internet)? Isn't their core skillset being able to ride such a wave well? Isn't their future in getting out ahead of the next one so they can apply that skill again?

    R&D is always risky, but as a long-term investor, shouldn't you be buying R&D? As corporations put less and less into it (as most are) what's left becomes potentially even more valuable when and if it pays off. Of course, you don't want to go into the equivalent of the old Xerox or AT&T which never properly capitalized on their best inventions ... but Sun's record is a bit better than theirs in this.
    • I was wondering if SUN is relevant, at all, these days. I'm seeing more and more companies skipping them by and implementing some sort of x86 solution. Mostly because their products can be approximated with someting much cheaper.
      That's were their R&D will prove to make or break them. Without it, they, I think, will become less an less desired in the market place. They'll need to come up with breakthrough tech in order not to be replaced by GNU/Linux, BSD or MS.
      • Don't forget, Sun Sells Linux x86 servers. Sun is a hardware vendor first and a software company second.

        The post above is close, but not quite right. Sun was the first vendor to have Ethernet and a TCP/IP stack built-in on every computer they offer. Thus their computers from the very early 90s were fully internet ready. They took an existing standard, and marketed it.

        Sun is doing much the same now with the Linux Hardware that they are selling. Everything they have done was initially an attempt to boo

        • Your (attempt at) analogy with the early adoption of Ethernet and TCP/IP on each machine is interesting, but I would like to expand it:

          if you look at Sun's offering, including their x86 servers, they offer LOM on all models. They are also going to offer N1 as a standard management system that will become incredibly handy with blade servers. We are seriously thrilled at the prospect of using N1 to install our distributed software on large clusters of Sun blades (NOT the Blade workstations!!!).

          I predict th
    • Saw an academic's analysis of Sun lately along the lines of "Sun is spending massively on R&D. Why is Sun doing this instead of copying the successful strategies of HP and IBM?
      Even Microsoft spend money on R&D these days - they hit the point where they couldn't just buy out others or just write software (No folks, that is not R&D - that is making a product) to get any furthur ahead.
  • In an effort to make its version of Linux compare more favorably to Sun Microsystem's flavor of Unix, Red Hat plans in coming weeks to again begin selling its Linux operating system through a flat fee model.
  • Sun is in quicksand (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BoomerSooner (308737) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:09AM (#8768167) Homepage Journal
    They will slowly lose more and more to the PPC based systems and better OSes (Linux/MacOS X). The Apple offerings won't make a large dent, the expected IBM systems will.

    I would sell any shares in Sun you still have (I left long ago).
    • MacOS X on Sun hardware. I've heard lots of the geeks at Sun have bought Apple notebooks because OS X is Unix and they love it. So, why not?
      • Why not? SPARC, SPARC, SPARC, SPARC.

        SPARC costs a bunch more than PPC from IBM and it's slower (1/2 the speed). Not to mention it would require recompiling every app. Won't happen. An Intel based switch would be more likely but I think it's out of the question with the new PPC's that are out (IBM has 2.5 GHz at 90nm available now).
    • by El_Ge_Ex (218107)
      Sun only offered Linux as a cave-in to shareholders who wanted to see the costs of machines drop so that sales would increase. Only the costs stayed near as bad and Sun's support was half-assed so sales didn't increase.

      This settlement also has more to do with what's left of Sun's shareholders and very little to do with who's at fault. The lawsuit was seen by investors as getting money from a competitor back when it started (almost 8 years ago!). Since then it has cost Sun much more money than what even the
      • Wrong. Sun's x86 hardware comes with Solaris or Linux at less than a $100 difference. Sun's x86 architecture is there for the reasons you mention, but do not confuse the difference between SPARC and x86 hardware with a difference between Solaris and Linux.

        As a customer myself, Sun has exactly the amount of support that you pay for. If you want platinum 4-hour on-site support, then pay for it.

        Finally - concerning Windows - Yes, that's the one Hold-Out. HP, IBM and SGI have all been supporting Windows f

    • by mrm677 (456727) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:06AM (#8768673)
      They will slowly lose more and more to the PPC based systems and better OSes (Linux/MacOS X).

      Better OSes? Solaris is arguably the best Unix OS in existance. If you think that Linux is "better", and it may be for your needs, I urge you to think again. The key to Solaris is its scalability. It scales to hundreds of processors. This is key for throughput computing, and you will see Sun come out with chips that have a dozen or so UltraSparcs on the same core in the near future.

      Yes pundants, point me to the links about Linux running on 500 processors. I frankly don't beleive that a single Linux kernel image can run on 500 processors. I mean it still uses test, test-and-set spinlocks!
      • Yeah, maybe, but 10 to 1 those UltraSparcs will still be slooowwww, as they have been for years now. In this day and age, if you want commercial UNIX, why bother with Sun when you can still go IBM and get AIX (a very solid UNIX in its own right), and much more powerful hardware.

        I doubt Sun can continue to be the bastion of UltraSparc for much longer. They'll have to convert to somebody else's architecture or die.

    • The article isn't clear. I would expect that Sun would offer both regular one-time licensing and subscription-based licensing. This would be fair to customers, who can choose depending on their needs.
  • by morelife (213920) <f00fbug@nOspam.postREMOVETHISman.at> on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:10AM (#8768171)
    And customers don't like it. Do you think they're stupid? Generally subscription models mean the customer pays more, for not necessarily more service or features.

    People are in general moving away from RedHat, not toward it. RHEL means lock-in, with less features. It may be OSS, but if you change the code - is Red Hat going to support your changes? No.

    So this is the model Sun wants to emulate? Sun is already perceived as too expensive in general for a Unix. The people that have stuck with Sun tend to be those running specialized platforms they couldn't migrate out of too easily. Sun's best bet is the Chinese desktop deal, not trying to compete with Linux here in the States..
    • People are in general moving away from RedHat, not toward it.

      Numbers please, anyone can shout something like this. Last I heard was that RHAT had about 87500 subscriptions, of which 4000 entered last year. Read it today somewhere, but can't find the link anymore :-/
      This does not sound like people moving away from RHAT, but it's your word against mine.
      • Numbers please, anyone can shout something like this. Last I heard was that RHAT had about 87500 subscriptions, of which 4000 entered last year. Read it today somewhere, but can't find the link anymore :-/

        Numbers please, anyone can shout something like this.

        It seems like you're not holding yourself to the standards you impose on others.

        No matter. We don't need "numbers" to substantiate the fact that the community is vastly unhappy with Red Hat's move to the enterprise subscription model, which is causin
        • *sigh*
          Why do you think I typed a :-/ and said it was basically your word agains mine?

          We don't need "numbers" to substantiate the fact that the community is vastly unhappy with Red Hat's move to the enterprise subscription model, which is causing financial and logistical pain.

          What community? Is the community buying subscriptions? AFAIK companies are buying subscriptions; the community is free (pun intended) to use fedora. Why should the community be vastly unhappy by that?
    • People are in general moving away from RedHat, not toward it. RHEL means lock-in, with less features. It may be OSS, but if you change the code - is Red Hat going to support your changes? No.

      People in general are moving away from it how do you explain thier best 3rd quarter ever, then the 4th quarter eclipsed that? 90% renual rates (87,000 new subscriptions), 39% more income. Maybe you want them to fail but that id most certainly NOT what is happening, they're booming. Thier stock has hit 5 52-week hig
  • Why do I think that this idea has something in common with killall(1) implementation on Solaris, considering its possible destructive effects? Funny jokes aside, I really think this migh not be a smart move for Sun. I think they should think about it before they finally roll it out.
    • Yes - they aliased killall with "reinvent." I remember my first solaris experience - coming from FreeBSD and Linux. I tried killall inetd on a QC Oracle database machine. Imagine my joy as every process was killed off, till I lost my terminal.
  • by Virtucon (127420)
    Sun as it once was will be no more. Essentially throwing in the towel with MSFT has gotten rid of the only thing Scott McNealy can blame for their failures. In a truer sense, Sun needs to open source Java and J2EE, their only techology play that they still have a good stake in. They've sold their high end server business, they're now trying to be an "also ran" in Linux and unlike HP they don't have a PC market. So, IP is about all they have left. Sure Sun has made great contributions, but anybody remem
    • Re:Write Them Off (Score:4, Insightful)

      by haggar (72771) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:56AM (#8769149) Homepage Journal
      I would totally agree with your post, except that it's all wrong, without a shred of truth to it and even offtopic.

      In a truer sense, Sun needs to open source Java and J2EE
      That's your opinion. It can be argued efficiently against it: Sun has released and well documented all of the API. It has nothing to gain from opensourcing Java, except making happy a few Slashdot readers.

      They've sold their high end server business,
      Of course, this is totally your imagination and it has no bearing to reality.

      unlike HP they don't have a PC market.
      They definitely do, and apparently, a strong one, with JDS deals in China and with Wal-Mart.

      It wasn't so long ago DEC was #2 in the computer industry, now they're just a memory. Sun unfortunately will most likely be the same.
      Sun, compared to DEC:
      - has a better financial position
      - is selling a much larger volume of UNIX servers
      - is more flexible in terms of hardware(just released excellent 1,2 and 4-Opteron servers and 1 and 2 opteron Blade servers)
      - delivers a desktop OS upon which they have complete control (Gnome + StarOffice + Gaim...)
      - has a detailed CPU roadmap for the years to come

      Interestingly, your post has no connection with the topic at hand (Sun introducing software subscription model). You just though it would be a good opportunity to bash Sun, and you went for it. After all, this is Slashdot!
      So I will try to bring this thread closer to the main subject: seeing the other two biggest software manufacturers that do use a subscription model - RedHat and Microsoft - making a sweat profit, I don't think Sun's decision is a mistake.
    • Re:Write Them Off (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr. Piddle (567882)

      Wow, a troll modded to 4?!?

      They didn't "throw in the towel" with Microsoft.

      They have the Java Community Process for Java.

      They didn't sell their high-end server business. Most likely, it will be a partnership with Fujitsu.

      Sun is not an "also ran". They are still pushing out lots of new non-trivial things, like JDS, Java 1.5, Solaris 10, 144-core servers, etc.

  • In a hard-hitting analysis of the Sun-Microsoft settlement [linuxworld.com], David Mohring [blogspot.com] argues that - aside from the monetary payoff - the gains for Sun from the terms and conditions "do not make any sense for Sun in the long term."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Mohring writes [sys-con.com] that that - aside from the monetary payoff - the gains for Sun from the terms and conditions "do not make any sense for Sun in the long term."

      He continues:

      "Sun's agreement to Microsoft Communications Protocol Program represents a real sellout by Sun. Until now, the only major vendors to sign up to the protocol agreement have been Cisco and guess who, The SCO Group ( only after the "investment" by Microsoft ). Even the U.S. Justice Department expressed concern that Microsoft has not complete
  • There are obviously financial advantages to a subscription model of software sales for a company like Sun...subscription revenue is received at known times, and in known amounts. It is not like the 'lumpy' type of revenue that is commonly associated with Sun's business, such as the sale of high-end servers, which occurs sporadically and is not easy to predict. So a move to subcription-based revenue will be of benefit to Sun in accounting terms.

    But along with the benefits come disadvantages. Discounting c

  • by heironymouscoward (683461) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (drawocsuomynorieh)> on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:28AM (#8768275) Journal
    Sun has a fundamental problem, one it shares with Microsoft. Both firms live by selling a premium product in a commodity market. Operating systems are no longer rare and valuable enough to pay for. Linux has demonstrated the feasability of a single, free, standard OS for all hardware, and despite ferocious resistance from many quarters, makes inexorable progress towards becoming the eventual standard.

    Sun will die if they do not reinvent themselves away from selling proprietary OS products. Moves like the Sun Java Desktop are a sign of hope: Sun must adopt Linux and FOSS and become a services company selling value-added solutions. Then it can survive.

    But changing a company like this is incredibly hard and there are few cases where it works. Most likely, Sun is doomed.
    • Sun has a fundamental problem, one it shares with Microsoft. Both firms live by selling a premium product in a commodity market. Operating systems are no longer rare and valuable enough to pay for.

      Almost correct. You forgot that Sun is primarily a HARDWARE vendor. Your paragraph should have said:

      Sun has a fundamental problem, one it used to share with Compaq. Both firms live by selling a premium product in a commodity market. Hardware for PCs/workstations is no longer rare and valuable enough to pay for.
  • by kindbud (90044) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:47AM (#8768460) Homepage
    Do like IBM does. Every X330-class machine we buy comes with 3 years onsite service. There are no extra support contracts to sign, no extra expenses to track, everything we want in a hardware purchase comes with the machine, one line item on the invoice for everything.

    Screw the software. Solaris is little more than Oracle-OS anymore. Make the hardware easier to buy and to support.
  • Sun could have gotten a lot by helping Linux in the computing space - any Unix is a good Unix relative to Windows in the datacenter (compatibility is a good thing). Sun has chosen to work with Microsoft to quash Linux instead of the other way around.

    McNealy has become a liability, like Saruman. There is only one Lord of the Ring. Sun is doomed.

    Sun -- used to have great technology, now plagued with dated hardware and poor business choices. Decent opsys, though, too bad it's stalled.
  • by fmaxwell (249001) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:15AM (#8768763) Homepage Journal
    Sun made its money selling expensive hardware that was rock-solid and fast -- and if you wanted to run Solaris, you bought a Sun box with a SPARC processor. Now Solaris is out for the x86 and hardware reliability and speed can be had at a fraction of the cost in x86-based servers from Dell, Compaq, IBM, and others. There is no longer a compelling argument to buy Sun boxes for most applications. Sure, there are some exotic, massively multi-CPU servers from Sun, but that's not bread and butter sales and there are nott enough of them sold to support a company the size of Sun (hence the layoffs).

    We've seen this before with IBM. To the Slashdot youngsters who may not remember: It was IBM who created the x86 PC back in the early 80's. They were trouncing "hobbyist" venders like MITS (Altair), Imsai, and Cromemco. They owned the PC market as far as business was concerned. Then the smaller companies like Compaq hit the scenes aiming at the business market with equivalent, or better, performance at lower prices. When is the last time that you saw a new IBM brand PC for sale?

    Next to take a hit: Cisco. Companies are seeing the cost advantage to going with simpler, less-expensive routers and firewalls wherever possible. Why pay for "Cisco-certified" personnel when they can buy an SMC router, some switches, and have their office up and running at a fraction of the cost? Again, there are niche areas where Cisco is still king, but that won't support a Cisco-sized company.
    • Now Solaris is out for the x86 and hardware reliability and speed can be had at a fraction of the cost in x86-based servers from Dell, Compaq, IBM, and others.

      Sun's x86 servers are competitive with Dell, HPaq, and IBM. Also, Sun is not a Microsoft reseller and has no OEM puppet strings.
    • I like your post, but find it troubling. Mostly, because it doesn't jibe with what I see and know. First, the selling expensive hardware that was rock solid bit... It was always expensive, but the rock-solid? Do you remember when SunOS 4.1.4 was effectively the last BSD based OS, and the switch was made to Solaris? It was called Slowaris, and it was a mess. Pkgadd didn't work, NIS support was phased out kicking and screaming for NIS+, and Sun practically had a revolt on it's hand. It had built up good will
  • Interpreting Sun (Score:3, Informative)

    by zz99 (742545) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:22AM (#8768843)
    A few weeks ago a group from Sun on tour visited our office. They were showing their new road maps and answering questions. I asked some general questions, giving them an opportunity for some sale talk.

    They seemed to be intrerested in selling two things:
    1. development software (i.e. compilers and development environents)
    2. servers (i.e. bigger machines that they earn more money

    I asked them about workstations, and they hardly bothered to answer. My guess is that a Sun Blade 1500 doesn't give much profit at all.

    They pushed hard for their C/C++ complier and their Java IDE, and all its new features, and how easy it is to use for those that are skilled in Visual Basic.

    ...Well they might have said more, but that's what I remebered :)

    My conclusion was that they wantet to sell licences for software and servers most of all.
  • same old same old (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The article didnt have enough details. DOes th subscribtion cover maintenance cost or only right to use. If the maint cost is included we have been on subscription forever, they just called it maintenace? Does the OS stop if you dont pay next years subscription fee? If not I dont see any differance in the old vs the new.

    As somone mentioned there is a CPU license on USED servers but that has always been included with new servers.
  • .EDU Pricing? (Score:2, Informative)

    by pjdepasq (214609)
    I skimmed the article but saw nothing about .edu pricing. I would think it would be interesting to see what they are going to do with schools.

    My department has been wary of Sun's long term stability and is thinking of getting into different *NIX boxen. I'm pushing Apple, others like moving to Linux. The latter we can do by recycling our older PCs as they come out of the labs.

    If Sun starts subscription pricing in the acaemic markets, they may lose some of their installed base in the university setting.
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eloquence (144160) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:47AM (#8769064) Homepage
    There are those of us who have been saying that Java is crappy technology for years. There are those who have been saying that Java is the best thing that ever happened to programming. The latter group consists of the same persons who also felt that Sun would not betray Linux, that Sun was a bulwark against Microsoft, etc. They only told us good things about Sun. Many of them were paid to write these things -- as Java developers and Sun employees, or as active astroturfers.

    I never believed the official party line with regard to Sun. I saw great ideas devoured by Java -- as even most Java-lovers realize, it is absolutely unsuitable for desktop applications, yet it was marketed for them, and it was used for them. Remember JXTA? That was Sun's peer-to-peer initiative. I saw JXTA come and go and hundreds of peer-to-peer developers with it. Peer-to-peer and Java -- truly a winning combination.

    Nor did I believe that this was merely a coincidence or gross incompetence. When the internal Sun memo the Java problem [internalmemos.com] was released, where Sun engineers complained that Java was too slow even for internal use on Sun's operating system, it was clear to everyone what had always been clear to me: Java was never intended to be a fast, powerful programming language. It was intended to be a way to sell big hardware, and to tie people to a single company: Sun. They sucked up a lot of mindshare. Neither proprietary nor truly free, Java existed in that same state of justifiable coercion (by means of copyright) as, say, MacOS X. But both Apple and Sun have as their goal the same thing as Microsoft -- to become the only vendor that matters, to create a monopoly. Microsoft is just better at it.

    If you want a powerful, truly free, cross-platform interpreted language, try Python or Perl. Just because your PHB hasn't heard about them because there are no glossy brochures doesn't mean they can't kick Java's ass any day, even (or especially) in "mission-critical" application. Both are modern, object-oriented languages, idiosyncratic to be sure, but scalable no less. This very website is probably a larger application than most of the stuff that runs in your company. When did you last lose a comment on Slashdot? And Slashdot's code is ugly and hackish.

    Now it turns out that Steve Ballmer and Scott McNealy are on the same football team. Their common enemy: Linux. Well, you know what? Linux can kick Sun's ass, and Linux can kick Microsoft's ass as well. And that's not because "Micro$oft sux0rZ!" It's because Linux has behind it not just governments and corporations, but the power of thousands of unimaginably creative volunteers. It's because Linux is free and will always remain so. Technology is not just about gadgets. It's also about freedom, and in the long run, freedom will prevail. Say about RMS what you want, but sometimes being a little overzealous can be a good thing.

    Are corporations like Sun and Microsoft evil? Of course not. They are amoral (that also goes for IBM, by the way). They will do anything if it's good for their bottom line. If corporate murder was legal, every corporation would immediately start murdering people, other than by exposing them to toxic chemicals and unsafe workplace conditions. That's because if the current CEO doesn't like murdering people, they will simply be replaced by someone who does - shareholder value.

    Linux is a little bit of everything. It incorporates elements of socialism (sharing your work, writing software in your free time), capitalism (being paid to program), of dictatorships (Linus coordinating the development process), of democracies (various associations with elected representatives), of meritocracy (those who develop, lead), of plutocracy (those who have money can get stuff done). This is in many ways a model for society. There is no single way to run a complex world. You need to combine the elements in a smart fashion.

    Who cares about Sun? Who cares about Microsof

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr. Piddle (567882)

      The trolls are really hot today!!!

      McNealy most likely hates Ballmer's guts. That Java memo was a long time ago. Python and Perl do not have the breadth of the Java API. Python's compiler is also immature (optimization: coming soon!). Sun is embracing Linux not trying to destroy it.

      This article today has resulted in so much misinformation being posted that it is sickening.
  • by DikSeaCup (767041) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:57AM (#8769159) Homepage
    The thing I have a problem with is that in my time as a Unix Systems Admin, I've heard so much from Sun about how "Things will be different."

    Here's an example of an actual sequence of conversations I've had:

    "We really care about our relationship with your school and will go out of our way to solidify our reputation with you."

    Yeah, but what's this about you changing the support structure for our yearly support contract?

    "Oh, well, we found that most schools weren't using the contract to the fullest, ending up with blank software entitlements instead of using them all, and so we changed it. We now no longer cover things like backup software and directory services as part of your contract. Oh, and it costs more now too."

    Sun lost out to Redhat because Sun (and their authorized reseller) could never get their act together, and their treatment of us bordered on abuse. When you'd pay $15K for a Sun and end up with yearly fees approaching $1K for the warranty period (since we'd have to cover OS upgrades) and then $3K for continuing maintenance, yet you could get a more powerful Dell server with better maintenance coverage and Redhat, in the long run, it was cheaper.

    In other words, the TCO bug didn't just hit Microsoft - it hit Sun pretty hard, too.

  • by Esion Modnar (632431) on Monday April 05, 2004 @11:18AM (#8769430)
    Buying the latest OS release used to be like waiting for the next Tom Clancy novel: it got released when it got released, and not a moment sooner. Sure, the publishers have their own internal deadlines, but if it takes 2-3 years between major releases, I'm not sweating it. My money's in my wallet in the meantime.

    A subscription, OTOH, implies a recurring payment for goods delivered on a predictable recurring basis. Such as Playboy, for example. My subscription obliges Playboy to deliver on-time or lose my business. This seems to work for magazines, but would be a horrible idea for Tom Clancy novels: either the quality would go way down, or I would get zero product for my money.

    And this seems to be the deal software subscriptioners are getting: low quality or zero product (missed delivery dates).

  • by Whatchamacallit (21721) on Monday April 05, 2004 @11:26AM (#8769543) Homepage
    Used to be Sun was the biggest baddest Unix platform, chosen by those who needed real power and scalability. Customers paid a premium in hardware and software as well support contracts.

    Now that Linux is making huge progress on it's Enterprise abilities there are several event horizons rapidly approaching.

    1. x86 hardware is getting cheaper all the time. Sun hardware is still very much overpriced.

    2. IBM's PowerPC Power4/Power5 & Power 970 chips are about to go mainstream. You will be able to buy multi-processor Power4/5 racks running Linux and supported by IBM. All IBM needs to do is start selling these monster CPU's to third party OEM's and the price will drop. Virginia Tech's PowerMacG5 super cluster is evidence of the coming storm. It's scored very high and has the highest ROI achieved in it's class. Switching it over to 1U XServeG5's will reduce it's physical footprint thereby reducing cooling and location space. Apple won't be the only PowerPC dealer. Linux runs very well on Power chips. IBM will assist in further kernel optimizations.

    3. What's going on with Intel? AMD and IBM appear to be mopping the floor with them lately. Looks like they need to go back to the drawing board and start over with a new core outside of Itanium.

    The more I think about it, the more I realize Sun is doomed. They may never be at the top again unless they get very competitive very fast. I work for a huge corporation that has quite a bit of Sun hardware and I can tell you most of the hardware is out of date and near obsolete. We are still running Solaris 2.6 in production, that was released in 1997! Why didn't we upgrade? Because we can run Linux a heck of a lot cheaper then Solaris and we can upgrade the hardware without killing our budgets.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Until you can yank power, CPU, memory, fans, etc. LIVE without causing so much as a hiccup to running software SUN hardware will have a place in high availability envirnoments not well suited to clusters.

    Linux is "hardened" via cheap boxes in a cluster, this doesn't work the best for mammoth DB's that lose millions a minute if they are down.

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