[rescue] Sun is purple - not blue....

Jonathan J. M. Katz jon at jonworld.com
Wed Mar 18 13:28:53 CDT 2009

On Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 2:01 PM, William Barnett-Lewis
<wlewisiii at gmail.com>wrote:

> Actually we already know what Stevie's idea of such a company is -
> Next. That has it's pluses and minuses. I'll leave it as an exercise
> for the reader to assign them... ;)

Over the past decade there have been more sun take over rumors than anyone
can shake a stick at. Even when I worked at Sun there was always some kind
of discussion. The current IBM news is the only one with a trace of
validity, though.

Pardon the following disjointed ramblings.

Apple, HP, MSFT and IBM as well as Dell have all been mentioned as suitors
of Sun for a while (decade.) Of any of those the Apple play seemed to make
the most sense, as Sun's desktop, well, sucked, while Apple's back-end
didn't exist (PowerMac G3 tower servers, at the time, IIRC.) Apple is a
current Sun customer and uses Sun servers for its internal big-end server
systems (SMTP, iTunes back-ends, etc.) That isn't too big a secret, just
look at Apple's open job reqs! Dell and MSFT made sense over different eras,
too. Before Dell had servers and before Windows NT took off on servers. We
joked about NT and Windows 2000 for UltraSparc, because x86 hardware, with
its 32 bits couldn't scale. Well, at least back then.

For a long while the largest customer of Sun's mid-tier storage was MSFT.
They used the T3 RAID arrays as the backend storage for hotmail.com. A lot
changes in a decade. (ok, 8-9 years, but still.) In fact, MSFT was a beta
customer of the T3 arrays.

IBM divorced itself from the x86/x64 desktop/laptop world with the spin-off
of Lenovo. Currently their blade-server line is best of class, and recently
we discussed that there is still use for the mainframe and that IBM still
owns that space, despite inroads by Hercules and what was UniKix, owned by
Sun as their Mainframe Rehosting. But those are really tiny fish compared to
big blue and not a threat. They're a footnote.

IBM and Sun's x86/x64 servers overlap, from what I remember. Sun has some
edge with the Thumper.

The storage side overlaps completely. STK is barely integrated with Sun, and
the storage story from Sun, IBM, STK and HDS overlap to a scary degree. I
predict a lot of pink slips from those departments if/when a merger goes
through. However, if IBM/Sun plays its cards right with that, there will be
some real world-class stuff that comes out of it.

The software side is overlap, too. WebSphere XYZ toolkits vs.
iPlanet/SunOne/Glassfish. The only real differentiator is Java. But since
Java is "open" for varying definitions of open, who cares? WebSphere still
has good market share as a middleware/app platform regardless of anything

There is also the network management stack. I actually used Sun Management
Center, but I think I was one of three customers who did. But look at
Tivoli, Micromuse, etc, that are all rolled into IBM's stack.

Sun has its chip design side, and it seems to beat out IBM. Sure, we love
PowerPC, but I think specfp for specfp the Sun multi-core chips are a
generation or two better than the POWER4/POWER5, but I haven't looked at
benchmarks in such a long time I'm really taking a guess.

AIX is fading away and IBM has been moving people to Linux. Sun sold this
FUD pitch when pitching the 4800 and 15K in 2002; I was an SE who did that,
and I'm sure they're still doing that!

And back to the flamewar. I still don't think Linux is appropriate for
enterprise-class stuff. But Solaris/x86 is. Maybe IBM does want Solaris as
an option for customers who don't want Linux but do want what was once
called the "open systems" (Unix) platform.

I can't figure out IBM's logic for this buyout now.

Also, remember, IBM Global Services was one of Sun's largest customers, for
those who wanted IBM GS to manage their gear but Sun to run it on. Not sure
how those numbers brake down now, but there was also all the service
contracts that came with that gear, too. There were Sun FEs on-site at IBM
GS datacenters to fix the Sun gear.

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