Home > Oracle and SUN > Interview: Sun CEO Scott McNealy Interview: Sun CEO Scott McNealy Eugenia Loli 2005-01-11 Oracle and SUN 9 Comments Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy spoke with IDG News Service correspondent Robert McMillan about company changes, plans for 2005 and how open source relates to Solaris and Java. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 9 Comments 2005-01-11 3:42 pm It stopped just when it was getting interesting. I do like Sun’s idea of supplying the whole system (hardware and software). Sure vendor lock-in can be a pain but you run into that anyway. The advantage is you software is optimized for your hardware. This is how things “just work”. Look at Apple. They are all about vendor lock-in but get away with it because their stuff “just works”. I think Sun builds excellent hardware and combines it with an excellent operating system plus a nice software stack. There is a lot to recommend and you’re not any more vendor locked than if you went with somebody else. 2005-01-11 4:30 pm I disagree with McNealy open sourcing Solaris will not be aa big a thing as he thinks. It will be the demise of Solaris and SUN will fade away like Novell 2005-01-11 4:57 pm “It will be the demise of Solaris and SUN will fade away like Novell” Hardly. For one, look at Sun’s installed base. It’s huge. And, now, with Solaris 10, it is as cheap or cheaper to stay with Solaris than it is to migrate. Sun really understands what they need to do to retain their base. Then, look at the OSS movement. This is where Sun is competing for new customers. There are a lot of young people who “grow up” with Linux (as many people have “grown up” with Solaris in the past), and they will tend to choose OSS and Linux more frequently than not in the future. However, if they get into a position of responsibility where their system stability over a longer term is critical, then the relative volatility of Linux becomes a burden. Sun knows this. Sun works hard to maintain APIs and other interfaces for source and binary compatibiliy as much as possible. Linux breaks their interfaces between minor kernel updates. This is really huge to a lot of people. So, open sourcing Solaris provides the OSS hook people need (they say it’ll be an OSI license, BTW), while Sun’s business model provides the stability they need. Sun is doing some really strong changes to react to the markets recently. They did struggle for a couple years (US III late, took time to really pin down Solaris/x86), but they are right back on track to do just fine. They are already saying to expect a 2X improvement in UltraSPARC this year, too (2X over US IV, not US III, BTW). 2005-01-11 5:03 pm “They are all about vendor lock-in but get away with it because their stuff “just works”.” You can buy fully supported SPARCv9-based equipment from Sun and Fujitsu. They actually compete against eachother. Where can you dual-source POWER from? How about Itanium? SPARC is also an open standard that is not owned by Sun; it is owned by Sparc International. The only other dual-sourcable up-to-date architecture is AMD64, right now. ARM has multiple implementations but that is mainly in PDAs. Does Motorola do anything beyond the G4 for PowerPC? Sun is much less about lock in than peoples’ accusations imply. SPARC has multiple sources. Java does, too. Solaris complies with UNIX standards. This is their bread and butter, and none of it is “locked in.” 2005-01-11 5:04 pm “fade away like Novell” Have you been living in a cave somewhere? Novell is anything BUT faded away. With their move into Linux, Novell has been able to once again position themselves as a true mover and shaker in the IT industry. So while they were certainly on track to “fade away”, opensource has truly re-vitalized their company. Now is it really such a stretch to think the same thing could happen with Sun? 2005-01-11 7:16 pm The way I see it, vendor lock-in is less about what you are buying and more about how hard it is to switch to another product. Sun doesn’t want to lose any customers (can you blame them), so they are trying 2 avenues to keep them. First they try to keep their customers from ever WANTING to switch by releasing new Solaris versions, upgrading hardware, having good support, etc. Second, they make it hard to migrate by getting the customer hooked/dependent on tools/software that only Sun supplies or by making it so expensive to migrate that nobody will want to. This is NOT odd behavior. Microsoft’s strategy seems to be focussed solely on making too hard to switch (they seem to have lost the ability to keep customers because they WANT to stay). So MS has it’s own internet standards, network standards, programming languages, document formats, e-mail framework, etc. All of these are geared to make it too hard/expensive to ever even consider somebody else. Apple seems more like Sun to me. They use an excellent OS and user experience so that their customers never want to switch. Plus they have pretty much thier own hardware platform that makes switching hard/expensive. Even linux is experiencing this. Red Hat has their own special builds and tools that both helps their customers and makes it harder to switch. Plus there are very few linux distributions that large companies (Oracle, Peoplesoft, IBM, etc.) support. For example, with Peoplesoft, if you want Linux you can pick between Red Hat AS 2.1 or nothing. Vendor lock-in is everywhere. Why? Because support contracts are where the real money is. So vendors will do whatever they can to keep their customers. 2005-01-12 1:00 pm I think sunw expects the community to contribute to Solaris. I can’t see that happening. Solaris won’t be open in the same manner as Linux or FreeBSD. Sunw is asking people to contribute, in order to make money for sunw, but what’s in it for the contributor? If I were a developer, and I wanted to contribute, I’d much sooner spend my time developing for a true community project; instead of working for free for a major company’s proprietary product. 2005-01-12 6:43 pm as far as i remember solrais 10 has native support for linux software. am i correct? this way sun has added a whole lot of software to their platform. nice stategy! 2005-01-12 10:42 pm “Solaris won’t be open in the same manner as Linux or FreeBSD. Sunw is asking people to contribute, in order to make money for sunw, but what’s in it for the contributor?” What I read is that Solaris will be open in exactly the same manner as Linux or FreeBSD (an OSI-approved license). There are a substantial number of hobbyists who run Solaris. In fact, their outcry a number of years ago was enough to make Sun re-think their x86 strategy, IIRC. Solaris has a strong following in government and academic circles. I’d even bet that the initial OpenSolaris community will be at least as big as those surrounding the BSDs. As for what’s in it for the contributor: the appeal of contributing to an advanced UNIX (not UNIX-like) system, stock owners will want to see Sun do well, and ISVs can better help their customers, for starters.