Subject: Re: What should Sun do?
From: "Benjamin J. Tilly " <ben_tilly@operamail.com>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 12:21:11 +0800

 Sat, 22 Jan 2005 12:21:11 +0800
davidw@dedasys.com wrote:
> 
> Hi,
> 
> To have something else to discuss rather than patents, which for some
> of us is perhaps straying a bit far from the practicalities of free
> software business, despite our general support for limiting the
> frivolous ones, I'd like to propose "what should Sun do?" as a topic
> of debate.

1. Read the Innovator's Dilemma.
2. Understand it.
3. Look at their portfolio of products.
4. Decide where they might end up in 5 years.
5. Take a direct shortcut there.

The entire idea that they can compete by doing a better Linux
than Linux is a non-starter.  They are "scaled wrong" to be
competitive in that space, their cost structure will make them
unprofitable in the same market as competitors like Red Hat.
And an open source Solaris simply will not take mindshare
from Linux.  Sorry, but it is too late.

At the top end of their market they have some business
opportunities in telecom, killing mainframes, etc.  But that is a
much smaller business, and accepting that they'll have to go
there is not going to be easy.

They have several software businesses.  Perhaps they want
to reinvent themselves that way.

In any case they need to form a vision of where to be and
start going there.  Right now they have a lot of nice gestures,
but it doesn't seem to be a very coherent strategy given the
reality that the workstation market has gone and isn't going to
return.  Within the Java world they have some enemies due to
trying to maintain control.  Once they decide where to go, they
will find it easier to identify which fences can't be mended (for
some reason people object when you try to extract money,
but you can't run a business unless you do) and which they
should mend.  Plus knowing what is core to their vision will
make it easier to figure out which bones they can cheaply
throw versus what is expensive.

> I got to thinking and writing about it a bit myself following this
> posting by Larry McVoy on LWN:
> 
> http://lwn.net/Articles/119909/
> 
> What do you think they ought to do, in order to make money, and
> improve their appearance in the eyes of "the open source world"?

I won't presume to say.  Personally I've known that they were
doomed in their current form for some time.  They have
various ways that they can go.  I don't know which they'll
choose.  But if they try to hold on to what is past and gone,
then I'll confidently predict that they have no future, rather
than just one which is smaller than their past.

Incidentally Oracle would be another company which will
appear to be doing better for a few years, but will likewise
start hurting badly.  And I have hopes that Microsoft will
prove to be another one.

> (BTW, what do they make their money from these days?)

As has been commented, they generally don't.

And the people that I know who pay them tend to be
trying to figure out how to switch away from them.

Cheers,
Ben