Home > Oracle and SUN > Sun’s Schwartz on Solaris vs. Linux Sun’s Schwartz on Solaris vs. Linux Eugenia Loli 2003-05-09 Oracle and SUN 22 Comments This is part 2 of a 3 part interview series with Jonathan Schwartz, EVP of Sun Software. In part 1, Mr. Schwartz talked about how Sun is expanding its software business. In this segment, he talks about why Sun isn’t worried about Linux. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 22 Comments 2003-05-09 2:56 am (ref. 1984 – read the book if you haven´t yet) ¨If Scott said it, it´s true.¨ Hmmm, now I am not sure if I should laugh or start worrying. Well, let me laugh a little bit. He he he. McNealy rushes into Schwartz´ office: ¨How many fingers do you see here?¨ (raises two fingers) Schwartz: ¨Two?¨ McNealy: ¨No, three! So tell me again, how many fingers?¨ Schwartz, weakly: ¨Three?¨ McNealy: ¨Good! Now what is Linux to Sun?¨ Schwartz: ¨Well, it´s making Solaris obsolete and, I mean, we should be switch…¨ McNealy: ¨Noooooo! Solaris is good, Solaris is strong, Solaris is the best UNIX there is! Do you understand that?¨ Schwartz: ¨But our clients are…¨ McNealy: ¨Our clients are just fine, they love us! They want Solaris, they want Sparc, they want Sun! Linux is nothing, the enemy is Microsoft, the enemy is Windows, and we are going to blow them off with StarOffice. BTW, how much did we spend on StarOffice until now?¨ Schwartz: ¨About a billion, but…¨ McNealy: ¨I see. How about charging for it, then, or perhaps we can bundle it with Solaris for x86?¨ Schwartz: ¨But we going to give it aw…¨ McNealy: ¨Hey, don´t you give me the ¨but¨ every time I ask you for an answer! Remember Zand…¨ (mobile rings, McNealy picks it up) ¨What? …Oh, it´s you, dear., yes, I know about the golf ga… yes dear… yes dear, yes OK… look, I am a little bus… no dear… OK, b…¨ (stares at the phone, then remembers he is in front of Schwartz) ¨Well, do something, you hear me?¨ (stomps out of Schwartz´ office) Schwartz wipes out the sweat from his face, then starts looking for some headhunter´s card… 2003-05-09 3:28 am Mr Schwartz, you gotta remember that many linux installations – on the server – aren’t paid for. A lot of people download and build custom systems, so the “price tag” argument is really rather far-fetched. I am talking of smaller companies, of course, after there are only so much Fortune 500 outfits around. Anyway, linux is a threat, not so much to Solaris on Intel (which has never amounted to much), but to Solaris on Sparc. Sun hardware is damn expensive, and people save money by migrating to Intel. Bearing this in mind, I still fail to see how Solaris on Intel is going to finally take off. Historically, Solaris support on intel has been half-hearted, at best, and whatever momentum there might have been have since been lost. Maybe if Sun had done something about the price of their hardware -instead of sitting on their laurels and waiting for Intel to catch up – they might still be going places. Anyway, suprise us by doing the impossible: demonstrating that sun is still a long-term competitor. 2003-05-09 5:04 am Sun is acting the way apple did a few years back. They will have 3 percent of the server market if they don’t change their ways. 2003-05-09 6:07 am I admire Sun for their quality products. Obviously, we used them in college. This article is inconclusive and doesn’t really tell the reader anything he/she didn’t know already. The original purpose of linux (as per Linus Torvalds) was to allow the average person who was not wealthy to own and operate a UNIX-like operating system that they themselves could modify and use freely. Schwartz gives no good reason to believe that Sun and Solaris will be vital to the economics of computing. I feel sorry for them but happy for Windows and linux because at least they seem to know where they want to be in the marketplace. Advice to Sun: learn how to market yourself as a vital product or you probably won’t last. 2003-05-09 7:20 am That was the first thing that came to my mind too. Too bad you were modded down for it (as I will no doubt be). I thought the mental picture of McNealy screaming at Linus, “I see your schwartz is as big as mine” was amusing. 2003-05-09 7:31 am Any SUN hardware is undoubtedly more expensive than the PC you make from loose parts, in your own spare time. But that is also without doubt a market segment which doesn’t enter into SUN’s market strategy. If you’re going to replace your SUN equipment with Wintel hardware, running Linux, you’ve got to take into account that you’re shopping for professinal x86 hardware, and preferably with good support for both the hardware and software. By that time, is the price gap still so marked? 2003-05-09 10:22 am Kevin Rasmussen – LOL! 🙂 Iggy Drougge – Given those circumstances the gap isn’t so wide anymore. 2003-05-09 10:53 am With 64-bit platforms from AMD, Intel and IBM/Motorola either here already or just round the corner for the low-end market, the ‘See, we can offer Solaris on 32bit again after killing it dead a couple of years back’ claims seem rather pointless. Considering Linux will run quite happily on 32 or 64 bit platforms today, on Intel, AMD and Apple platforms, I fail to see what this guys point is here. It seems Sun are disconnected, if not downright delusional about where they fit into the marketplace at the moment. I have no doubt that Solaris on SPARC meets the needs of businesses at the mid-high end, but the only thing Sun brings to the table at the low-end is higher prices. It sounds like this is Sun’s pitch: ‘So you’ve built your web apps with Java and now you need to expand your hosting platform. Why deploy Linux on Dell when you could have Solaris on Sun at twice the cost, with the need to change architectures entirely (at twice the cost again, with the likely need to relicense all 3rd-party binary-only software , subject to availability on SPARC) when you want to move to 64 bit (x86 to SPARC instead of x86 to x86-64/IA64)’ Sounds like a deal to me. 2003-05-09 11:10 am While I can understand running Solaris on Intel box if you’re developing for expensive Sun servers, if you’re actually moving your servers over to Intel, I don’t get it. Solaris is a really excellent operating system because it takes advantage of high end hardware. If you don’t have any high end hardware, it makes no sense to bother with it, just use linux instead. That being said, although I lost the link, I read somewhere that the migration of Wall Street to Linux you keep hearing about amounts to 5% of their systems. The financial industry depends very strongly on Monte Carlo simulations and lattice methods like tree/finite difference pricing techniques. I’m getting my master’s degree in this area, so I can tell you I’m not surprised to hear that Wall Streets migration to Linux hasn’t been that massive. Some of the pricing programs I’ve written will eat up a gig of ram if you let them (more ram used = more accuracy), and portfolio valuation can involve calling pricing routines thousands of times. That calls for the high end hardware Sun is known for. So I think Sun is safe for now, but with advances in 64 bit x86 and IBM’s improvements to the Linux kernel, they will have to lower their prices in the future. 2003-05-09 11:37 am McNealy and Jobs are both totally self-deluded. They both see Microsoft as the reason for their failures rather than themselves. Both Apple and Sun are in serious danger of disappearing because they have persisted with slow and very expensive proprietary hardware. 2003-05-09 11:42 am Does any Intel-based server has something like OpenBoot, failsafe system or alike? Sun machine is more than just a box with a SPARC, it has many more than that ..for example, looking at its bus architecture. 2003-05-09 12:05 pm I’d say you’re more self deluded. Where has Steve Jobs lost it? unlike SUN, Apple listens to what customers want. Unlike Scott, Steve is pragmatic and realises that simply spitting at Microsoft isn’t going to entice customers. As for Scott McNealy, I’ve say it so many times I’ll let those who are interested read past posts by mine. As for their stupid decision to buy StarDivision, god knows why. They would have been better off buying Corel and porting Wordperfect Suite over, which is the ONLY office suite close enough in terms of features and integration to be competitive with Microsoft Office. Paradox is comparable and IMHO better than Access, Wordperfect offers all the features of Word and more, Quatro Pro has everything a bean counter would like and as for Presentations, OpenGL support, good anti-aliasing for pictures, nothing I’ve seen so far is comparable. As for their hardware pricing, again, I’ve addressed it. They are not cutting costs, just adding to the list of excuses of why they are uncompetitive. Sparc is a good architecture, too bad that they too stupid to realising that producing servers themselves is inefficient. 2003-05-09 12:15 pm Because they don’t have a clue. Sure, Solaris is an awesome server OS but these days people want cheap hardware and a solid OS. Linux fits the bill. There will always be people who need Sun’s big iron but the vast majority who use commodity hardware. 2003-05-09 1:06 pm May the schwartz be with you, always. 2003-05-09 1:45 pm Well, the thing is, they can produce cheaper hardware if they used their brain. SUN need to outsource their server and workstation production to a firm in China (or some other country with low cost, skill labour. Malaysia would be another good country as Dell Asia-Pacific are all assembled there), outsource their chip production to UMC and TSMC (IMHO TI isn’t giving them the best value for money or technology) and remove all the proprietary components and use industry standard components. Heck, I’ll promise you that if I was in charge for 3 years I could easily turn around the company and increase revenue to $27billion without too many problems. SUN has the intellectual proproperty, too bad they’re badly managed. As for their software front, do they really think that people are going to pay a few hundred for an OS then a few thousand for a web server then a few thousand for some other server? Why not bundle the whole iPlanet and Solaris package together for $899, 6months telephone technical support and unlimited clients. I could go on and on about the stupid mistakes they make, however, it appears that SUN are more interested in listening to themselves that those who know what should be done for the long term survival of the company. 2003-05-09 1:46 pm I predict… Sun stock will rise immensely when a Sun spokesmonkey says, “Oh, we’re quite afraid of Linux. “In fact, like a cornered animal, we will look deeply into the eyes of our customers and deliver what they need at prices that would make Microsoft cringe.” But no, we’re back in cold reality, where despite losing 93% of their share value, they coldly lie and talk blue sky. Java is commoditizing their machines, and while there are a few people who need Sun reliability, that’s certainly not everyone. Sometimes, redundant unreliable PCs can do the job better than expensive Suns. Sometimes not, but people have been oversold on powerful Suns. 2003-05-09 2:36 pm A lot of this jibberish about Linux vs Sun. Isn’t the real competition between BSD and Sun if you go to x86. It doesn’t take a genious to understand why Wall-Street use Solaris stuff on Sparc…. the savings they would have of usnig Linux might be millions, but when that penguin die, they’ll be loosing billions. But, the real question is… BSD vs Solaris… how’s the competition there? 2003-05-09 3:22 pm Solaris x86 is a good OS but is too picky to hardware. Linux can be installed to almost any PC. If you want play with Solaris, you’ve got be rich. 2003-05-09 3:42 pm Are you sure that Linux doesn’t compete with Sun? From a technical standpoint BSD may be stabler, but in real terms I imagine most people are willing to downgrade their stability because apps are usually going to be buggier than the OS. Take Google for example, 10% of the software bugs come from Linux; the rest are from their own programming. (Source: Hennessy & Patterson’s book on computer architecture) 2003-05-09 6:03 pm Our scientific research and development group has a decent sized Sun with 12 750MHz Ultrasparc III processors and 12GB RAM. One of our bigger models allocates around 6GB RAM and runs in 7 days. I had the opportunity to test an Opteron 240 running Suse Linux and the same model completed in under 2 days. So Sun better take Linux seriously. I personally think that a computing environment of Linux clusters , and Sun and SGI SMPs gives us the most bang for our buck and is not that difficult to administer. 2003-05-09 7:26 pm that is, in a world that had no money and no interest in making money… Sun has a very nice set of hardware. I was extremely stable, fast and efficient. Its build on an open platform which makes it trivial to admin or code for it. But recently they have been cutting costs. Their desktop systems are no better than PCs, they use cheap IDE drives and video cards which only last a few years but cost 3x the price of a comparable Intel box. And they used to be solid and stable on their server hardware, but ever since they attempted to cover up that memory problem on their e4x00 systems I have been rather skeptical. I don’t trust that their new SunFire hardware is any more stable than their old enterprise class ultras. This is not bad, they are usually fault-tolerant and redundant. But that’s just it. You’re paying easily 3x the price of modular PC hardware so you get 2x the system. When you could easily implement that fault-tolerant redundant architecture and save on support and maintenance costs on top of the initial investment. Plus you’d never have to pay for or manage a software license again, if you did it right. But the only reason any of this matters is because its not a perfect world. The only thing that matters to any of you is money. 2003-05-10 10:27 am Great, an AOL fan boy who needs to post the same crap twice.