Linked by Adam S on Wed 14th Sep 2005 13:01 UTC
Humor Never let it be said that Sun Microsystems, who are promoting their new Opteron-based "Galaxy" server line, are subtle. A recent post to the Sun website displays several "rejected" ads. Says the website, "At Sun, we're the radical engineers that build 'ass-whoopin' technology - we're not Miss Manners and we never want to be." Ads that did make the cut were revealed as well.
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Cult of Sun
by whartung on Wed 14th Sep 2005 18:17 UTC
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Sun is slowly building buzz, and promoting personalities into the public eye. Not just Schwartz and Bechtolsheim (not McNealy, we know better), but Gosling and slew of Sun bloggers. These folks are getting regular readers (followers is much too strong a word).

While Sun fans aren't as rabid as Mac fans, a similiar cult of personality is building. Wisely, I think, it's building around the company as a whole, rather than the individuals, even though much of it is manifested through the people. Much like Apple has survived most everyone of "note" leaving (Hertzfeld, et al), though it can be argued it didn't survive the loss of Jobs, but rather simply edured until he came back.

Partly this is because Sun has been just promoting the crap out of themselves and their products over the past 1-2 yrs: first with the Solaris 10, then OpenSolaris, and now all the new hardware (as well as their grid initiatives and other software announcements). Coming up next will be the new round of SPARCs.

It's like a big head of steam building within Sun as they stewed and thunk and recovered from the Dot Bomb, and now it's all exploding out at once.

The other interesting thing is simply that they've opened up, mostly through their vast array of bloggers, but also non-blog things like OpenSolaris, and use all of the different avenues to get their message out.

You may (and many do) not care for Jonathan Schwartz, but that doesn't make his blog really any less interesting. Then you have all of the Solaris bloggers, the hardware bloggers, the Java bloggers. You have the folks participating here, on OSNews, as well as on other boards and USENET.

So, they're canvasing the underground buzz making machine of the web- and blog-sphere as a whole, but then they also hold these pretty press announcements, glossy ads in IT magazines, as well as pressing the flesh and knocking on doors of corporate IT. Yea, it's all marketing, but the products seem to stand up to scrutiny outside the marketing.

The big part of it is simply that by the mere fact that they're opening themselves up like they have, they take on the patina of being a more open and accountable organization. That while they'll talk market and suit speak all day long, hilight their advantages, muddle over their weaknesses, just like everyone else, they all seem to basically stay on message. The "open Sun" message.

If it was just Schwartz and McNealy, you could just laugh, nod knowingly, and brush it off as simple collusion. But the breadth of the voices giving the message lends it credance.

Now, it could simply be that the Sun Leadership is simply Talking the Talk to not just the public, but the employees as well. Lying to us and them while the dark cabal of execs craft sinister plans behind mahogany doors in smoke filled offices (the smoke from failed hardware, failed strategies, and failed bottom line as, I'm sure you all know, you can't smoke cigarettes in office buildings in California).

So, it could simply be a ruse. Corporations shift message all the time, and always with the same enthusiasm. Worse that politicians.

Or, you can look at it as a simply too big for a conspiracy, they're just too many involved, and much of it has the impression that while obiviously Schwartz's blog is, basically, moderated by himself, his message, and keeping the phone quiet without the company lawyers screaming at him, the other bloggers are less so.

They're more raw, more earthy. Mostly filled with technical apolitical bits, but they have the undertone of the "new Sun" (which some of them would argue is simply the old Sun, but now you get to actually simply see inside) buzzing beneath them, like a carrier wave that keeps the meaty bits of information afloat.

Also, they're backing it up with action. Again, OpenSolaris, still has a bit to go, but there's no turning back that clock now. They've opened up other bits and pieces, and seem intent on pushing all of it forward. So, they're not just talking the talk, they're walking it as well. Hopefully in the next few months we'll see ZFS as well, finally. I'm all tingly waiting for that.

So, whaddya think? Is it all BS? All gold? A mix? What ratio? Have they changed any minds? Yours? Is the new Sun same as the Old Sun? Anybody with a Sun tatoo's out there?

Reply Score: 4

RE: Cult of Sun
by on Wed 14th Sep 2005 22:50 in reply to "Cult of Sun"
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very nice post.

Honestly, its the open source effect. Microsoft has been doing the same thing, and the reason is because they want to adopt some of the insanely effective community building strategies that lie at the core of oss success (you can read all about it in the halloween documents on the osi website)

To be honest, Sun does desirve credit for stuff like solaris 10, which is currently about as good a unix as you can get, and has stuff that noone else has. While their hardware may not be what it once was, its still good quality, and with decent support.

But i believe you hit the nail on the head. Apple and Linux both have acheived a borderline religious following, apple through the quality of their design (say what you will, they literally wrote the book on usability before it became hip, and apple industrial design is second only to sony), linux through shear openness. What is kind of funny is that both sun and microsoft have jumped on the linux way of accomplishing a cult, i guess its easier in the long run ;-)

I would say its a general trend in big tech companies nowadays, and quite honestly, i think its a change for the better. Linux users will follow the developments of major projects, conflicts of soap opera proportions between developers, and ideological holy wars between opensource groups, and i can say from personal experience, its quite engrossing. Ive seriously used all three platforms, but i find linux the most enjoyable, for the simple reahson that you not only know whats going on, but you know whats comming down the pipe. you know the guys behind the code, you know the reasoning behind contraversial descisions, you know it all. and eventually, you become a part of it.

the only reservations i have about these closed source companies new found "openness" is that it is only skin deep. they have their trade secrets, and theres a glass wall of how much a part of things you can actually achieve. for non-programmer geeks, it probably wont matter much, but once you join the open source tribe, nothing else really compares ;-)

all that to say, i dont think its bs, i think that they have realised that there are people who would love to feel more involved, and it doesnt take more then a minimal effort on their part to at least meet them half way. to coin a term, its a new Open Closed Source Methodology ;-)

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[2]: Cult of Sun
by on Thu 15th Sep 2005 00:34 in reply to "RE: Cult of Sun"
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Umm.. I was hoping that your post would be a little more insightful since it was so long. However, I think you make a few statements that are a bit misguided.

First, how can you "know whats comming down the pipe" in Linux? It's not like there is a road map or something. I mean, sure there are some general directions but how exactly they are implemented changes all the time. That is the very nature of open source, anyone can contribute and drive the direction in any way they see fit.

Second, you insinuate that Sun has a new found openness which "is only skin deep". This I take the most issue with (no I have nothing to do with Sun, the company). The CDDL is completely open and OSI approved. How much more open can it get?

Really it is ironic because unlike Linux, Solaris actually does have a road map. And most of the Solaris developers are highly accessible, which the massive Sun blog list is witness to.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Cult of Sun
by karl on Thu 15th Sep 2005 07:01 in reply to "Cult of Sun"
karl Member since:

Your post was quite insightful but the answer to the question as to how trully 'open' Sun has become is something that Sun itself cannot decide. For many 'open' means being transparent, communicative, perhaps even chatty, but when applied to source code 'open' means that 'your' projects have won the mindshare and participation of others-and to the extent this is true that project is arguably no longer 'yours'.

Sun is trying to rally the same kind of cult phenomena that made Sun a common name in the early 90's. But the demographics of developers have changed a lot since that time. The spirit of 'open source' at that time was represented by the BSD's and MIT. The avant-garde developers/entrepreneurs of the IT industry during the late 80's and early 90's understood and promoted the hybrid of commerical/'open source' development, this attitude was literally embodied by Sun, which paradoxically is what Apple has now reintroduced a la Mac OS X. But that spirit, and what open source now means, has changed and changed rather dramatically. The older spirit still persists but is no longer a rallying call for potential developers.

The spirit of open source nowadays lies in the community of developers and users. No amount of capital can guarantee the success of any project-only the mindshare and participation of a wide audience can offer any such guarantee and this only occurs when companies relinquish control of what was once 'their' projects. To the extent where community is synonmous with employees projects can have a degree of success, but only in the short term. Sun has always seen community first and foremost as the community of it's employees and contractors and is only now beginning to grasp what community, in a broader sense, a sense which they themselves cannot define alone, actually means.

I for one will really believe in the viability of Sun's new found 'openness' when I see outsiders, those not already employed or contracting for Sun, start challenging the direction of the development, shaping and controlling the software as 'their own project'. As long as community and employee's/contractor's is synonomous for Sun all the talk about openness is just that, talk. Personally, I don't believe that Schwartz 'gets it' -but I suspect that many of the current Sun dev's do-and hopefully they will help Sun find it's way into the open....

Reply Parent Score: 1