Sun Scores First 'Defensive' Open-Source Success - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
1/27/2006
02:33 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Sun Scores First 'Defensive' Open-Source Success

By making Solaris open-source code, Sun Microsystems has staged the first successful defensive open-source maneuver. I call it the scorched earth approach to open source. Like a smokejumper in front of a forest fire, Sun set a backfire to consume the fuel before the conflagration could reach it.

By making Solaris open-source code, Sun Microsystems has staged the first successful defensive open-source maneuver. I call it the scorched earth approach to open source. Like a smokejumper in front of a forest fire, Sun set a backfire to consume the fuel before the conflagration could reach it.Most open-source initiatives are launched for assertive purposes. Linux, Apache, and Eclipse, three of the most successful open-source projects, first took shape as unknowns meeting a new, communitywide need.

Sun took an existing asset, Solaris 10, and made it open source for purely defensive purposes. The resulting OpenSolaris project was a backfire set to absorb developer interest and energy before Linux could race through the customer base. Sun scorched the earth before Linux got there.

Sun was always more susceptible to Linux than its big server competitors because Sun dominates the low end of the Unix market. Instead of watching its leading asset be commoditized, it commoditized it itself. In the process, Sun has gained access to one of its natural markets, the powerful, low-end servers being built with dual-core Intel and AMD processors. With Solaris moving broadly onto these servers, Sun may have an expanding opportunity to sell its portal or identity-management software suites.

There are those who doubt this strategy will work, but for Sun, it was one of the few strokes left to it. As of Jan. 31, Sun has passed the four million mark for registered downloaders of Solaris 10. Two-thirds of them are for Solaris on x86. As IBM, HP, and Dell see the rapid uptake of Solaris on Intel and AMD servers, all three are saying they will ship Solaris on their Intel and/or AMD lines. That's a big plus for Sun. That generates a new market into which it may sell its previously stalled Java software. When your strategy forces your competitors to endorse your position, that's a successful plan. HP, IBM, and Dell do not willingly promote Sun Solaris. The strategy may not by itself pull Sun out of the loss column. Nevertheless, a risky maneuver has been executed by Sun President Jonathan Schwartz, and it will be studied in the future as showing how to make a defensive open-source move.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
News
What's Next: AI and Data Trends for 2020 and Beyond
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/30/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll