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News: Opinion: Is the Sun Rising or Falling?

  1. Opinion: Is the Sun Rising or Falling? (40 messages)

    What is the future for Sun, and hence Java. A couple of opinions discuss where Sun is moving.

    Robert Cringely seems to think that the Sun is setting, but maybe a merger with Sony can save them. He talks about the history of silicon valley, where Sun has fit, and its new product strategy, called N1. He also makes this comment about Java:

    "Java is the Dan Marino of software. Just as the former Dolphins quarterback, Java affected the world so much that history cannot be written without its mention. But nonetheless, neither Java nor Dan ever won the big one."

    Read Sunset: How to Avoid the Almost Certain End of Sun Microsystems

    Tom Yager comments on how Sun is "putting customers in charge of Sun Microsystems", and how that can put them in good stead. He argues that there is a method to its madness, and it may be getting its act together.

    Read Method to its madness: Scott McNealy is putting customers in charge of Sun Microsystems

    Any comments on these pundits? This also links in nicely with the latest Tales from TheServerSide cartoon.

    Threaded Messages (40)

  2. Opinion: Is the Sun Rising or Falling?[ Go to top ]

    I find it amusing how people carelessly confuse SUN Microsystems with Java, telling in same sentence how SUN's downfall would also mean end of Java.

    Of course, Java as a language and as an architecture is such a widespread as well as loved by a worldwide community of coders; Nay, it's not going away. Unless you'd think big players such as IBM and Oracle would move to Microsoft .NET camp instead.

    I don't deny that it wouldn't have an effect on Java - but I'd say that currently, with several NON-SUN virtual machines already there, most external add-ons being developed by IBM&Apache, with Eclipse and JBoss, only thing we'd be missing in the end would be Swing - and even that is controversial.

    This being said, I'd love to see a real Java 2, a re-write of good ole Java with the deprecated parts finally thrown away, and a bit of emphasis on simplicity of API's.


    Any opinions to this?
  3. Sun != Java[ Go to top ]

    Of course Sun doesn't equal Java. But at the moment at least they are linked.

    While Sun has the level of control over Java that is does now, the politics they have, as well as the resources they can dedicate to Java can affect our language.

    If Sun did "go away" (not that it would probably happen any time soon) it would not mean the end of Java, in fact some people would say it could be a "good thing" (tm).
  4. Sun IS SETTING , NOT JAVA[ Go to top ]

    Thank God there are more people out there who think sun's strategy is very unclear and its heading towards a downfall. May God Help sun.
      And whoever stupid out there thinks Java is also going down , then they should join Sun. :).
      Java will never die thanks to all open source vendors - Apache to JBoss. In last few years Open source has given much more to Java than Sun itself.
      And one more stupid comment i found on this forum about Microsoft's future being dark. I think we should open our eyes to reality that Microsoft is also here to stay. Its not gonna die, how much ever u like linux or unix or star office ( btw which sucks big time ). We got to agree that MSFT has given us a lot too and we cannot ignore millions of .Net users.
      Anyway .. doesnt matter what happens to SUN or Sun ONE or the dot in the Dot gones or any other stupid N1, Java is here to stay.
  5. "Millions of .NET users"[ Go to top ]

    didn't you hear?

    Microsoft decided not to call it's next release of NT, "Windows .NET Server" or whatever it was, exactly. It's just going to be "Windows 2003" or something equally catchy. And it seems that there's to be a pretty clear split between the XP/200x (desktop/server) systems, code base as well as marketing.
  6. Cringely is probably right[ Go to top ]

    Its a cliche around here at this point, but Linux + x86 is really poised to eat Sun alive. They need something new, and that something is not another datacenter initiative. They need to start from the proposition that:
    *software is getting commoditized (cost going to zero)
    *services are moving offshore (india, china)
    *hardware is moving towards Lintel

    There's huge growth in PUSHING these trends instead of fighting them.
  7. Cringely certain lives up to his name. I cringe when I read the drivel he churns out. Please enlighten me Chad as to how there is huge growth in companies

    (a) eliminating revenue streams by giving their products away
    (b) sacking all western developers and hiring asian ones
    (c) ditching industrial strength hardware for mission critical systems

    Linux and x86 are not going to eat SUN alive. Its an attractive proposition from a cost perspective on the front end but a totally unrealistic on the back end and to a large extent the middle tier.

    Sun systems are engineered for reliability, scalability and flexibility well beyond any current X86 systems. Additionally SUN provide extensive support (1 hour support anyone?) and bring a lot of experience with massive systems to the party which is why they are invited in most cases. No one in their right mind is just going to turn their mission critical hardware over to x86 just like that.

    Admittedly the market is changing rapidly and SUN will need to make adjustments. Given that they turned an operating profit last year I'm not so sure they need to follow Chad's or Cringely's 'advise' and throw plan A out for something 'new'just yet.
  8. Marty, there's still plenty of boxes to sell. The problem for sun I think is that Lintel boxes have a real price-performance advantage. I think people will still buy Sun boxes to run their database in many cases but its hard to see why someone setting up a medium-sized server farm would use Sun boxes, even given the (slight) technical advantages of Solaris over Linux. I disagree Lintel is not workable for the middle tier. Sure high-end customers have bought sun in the past but people are starting to demand a REAL ROI from their vendors. You have to go with the _trend_ in order to grow, and Sun needs growth, otherwise they become a maintenance business and that's obviously not what they have in mind.

    The way they harness these trends is to embrace open source products such as JBoss and Tomcat and create an open-source "stack" of technologies they can bring into a customer, and probably begin to do more professional services that actually solves concrete business problems for customers. I just don't see how maintaining Sparc is a long-term strategy that's going to work. Its similar to where SGI was around a few years ago where SGI had lots of technical advantages but the market was moving away from them. SGI is still around, but they are no longer relevant. So you have to be willing to cannibalize some of your revenue streams in order to avoid being irrelevant. Its painful but its been demonstrated many times in technology markets.

    OK enough rhetoric - my _concrete_ suggestion would be to not destroy the Sparc/solaris business, but to build a truly competitive linux/intel business that isn't crippleware as a hedge. Over time, migrate the reliability/scalability/flexibility of the curren Sun systems into the Lintel line in the form of proprietary extensions. I wouldn't say merge with Sony, I think Cringely is out in left field on that one. I might say buy BEA though, and build a software business that is truly competitive.
  9. Scott McNealy's Crux of the matter[ Go to top ]

    Chad hit the nail on the head.
      Our company has Sun and Linux. Sun still has the name value and stability; but really, it's a culturual change. If IBM, HP, Motorola and even Sun are starting to sell Linux to Fortune 1000 companies, how can Sparc/Solaris survive in its present state.
     Sun has an opportunity with their own brand of Linux.
    Many Linux commercial applications only run on certain versions and brands of Linux; and even then, only with the application's recommended patches. Yes, open source will gain market share; but, most buisness wants and needs Microsoft simplicity.
     Just Imagine, if Red Hat were bought by CA(computer associates), it would disrupt the stability of the current Linux market; it could leave the door wide-open for another Linux vendor to become the gold standard- i.e., Sun.
     The cold hard reality is the Sparc will never have the economy of scale that Intel and AMD have. The Sparc will go the way of the other dinosaurs - DEC, Amdahl, Wang , the list goes on. Unless, McNealy can bring the price down much further on Sparc boxes, right now,
     it's just a matter of time. But, to measure this final statement with a quote, John Maynard Keynes said, " In the long run, we're all dead. "
  10. Scott McNealy's Crux of the matter[ Go to top ]

    Actually, it could be very interesting if Sun acquired a company like RedHat ... they could theoretically buy back into everything they've failed on for the past couple of years.

    Regarding Sparc & Solaris, they work, what more can you say? They suck for price/performance, but so does everything else when you compare it to an Intel P4 @ 3000+ MegaHz or the latest AMD Athlon at 3000+ MarketHertz. (I recently priced a dual P4 Xeon 2.4Ghz with 4GB of RAM in a 1U factor for less than $3200 delivered! Oi!) But having something that actually works and works well is really worth a lot. HP still sells its ancient PA RISC / HPUX machines, and IBM its ancient AIX and OS400 and even OS390 mainframe machines because ... drum roll ... they really work. Like pack mules: Not fast, but dependable as all get-out.

    In ten years, 80% of the servers sold will probably be running some variant of what we call Linux today. (Maybe Windows ... who knows?) In the mean time, Sun will sell a lot of servers, and they have a good shot at determining what that Linux-based OS looks like in 10 years. I wouldn't put odds on them, but I wouldn't bet against them either.

    Peace,

    Cameron Purdy
    Tangosol, Inc.
    Coherence: Easily share live data across a cluster!
  11. Innovator's Dilemma at work....[ Go to top ]

    Slavishly listening to your "customers" can also destroy an established firm, in the face of disruptive innovation.

    Interesting times in the computer biz, as always.
  12. This is just an imaginative thought floating around in my head, based on the need for a good UI on UNIX. (I don't conisder KDE or GNOME to be good UIs.)

    There was speculation recently about a merger between Dell and Sun. I can see Scott McNealy and Michael Dell working together, but the rest of the corporate culture integration could be a problem. On the technical side a version of Solaris 9 x86 for Itanium based systems would be impressive but would have very little market share.

    Now consider adding Apple to the mix. The Mac OS-X interface could be ported to Solarix 9 x86 and then you'd have Itanium based systems with a solid, mature version of UNIX and the best UI in the business. (While Mac OS-X has a great UI the underlying OS is lacking several things like a journaling file system and clustering.) Technically this would be a real best of breed combination.

    There are pluses and minuses to this 3-way merger The corporate culture integration is difficult, but each brings something to the table. Dell brings marketing and expertise with Intel architecture. Steve Jobs brings two proven successes in porting Apple's UI to UNIX. Sun brings server market share and a commercially viable version of UNIX.

    Apple needs to get away from the PowerPC architecture. Sun needs new markets. Dell could benefit from Sun's server market share.

    All that would be needed is to port popular applications to it. OK, it's implausible, but it sure would be a dream machine. And I'm allowed to dream, am I not?
  13. -> I don't conisder KDE or GNOME to be good UIs.

    What is a good UI in your opinion ? Only Mac OS-X ? KDE ist the best GUI I've seen so far, even high above Windows XP.

    See yourself:

    http://promo.kde.org/3.1/screenshots.php
  14. I cannot see how a couple of screen shots can convince anyone that a UI is good. Do you mean that the defintion of a good UI is how cool it looks?
  15. --> I cannot see how a couple of screen shots can convince anyone that a UI is good. Do you mean that the defintion of a good UI is how cool it looks?

    I use it every day.
  16. the only merit of windows is that it looks cool. if you don't count this, then... try redhat 8.0
    windows is NOT a good operating system. it is inferior.
  17. I use KDE every day on Redhat 7.3. It's fonts are second rate. The Motif keybindings are screwed up. I just spent some time on the nedit mailing list figuring out how to get the arrow keys on the numeric keypad to work. They now work in nedit, but I cannot use the numlock to enter numbers with the keypad now. The conclusion from the nedit maintainers is that the Motif keybindings are not implemented correctly on any Linux distro.

    Even though nedit works, there are some Java applications that don't work right (i.e. JEdit). It looks like there's an issue with keyboard support in the Linux version of Java, but nothing conclusive yet.

    Printing support is also crude. If I want to print a web page or a .pdf file I do it through IE or Acrobat on Windows instead of Mozilla or Acroread on Linux. (I use VMWare to run Win apps on Linux.) Maybe this is related to the fonts on Linux issue.
  18. Dude, if you want to experience the power of KDE, RedHat is the last place where you can experience it. Try Mandrake www.mandrake.com or SuSE www.suse.com or any other distro, but not RedHat cause everyone knows there is a rift(name calling etc) between those two(KDE and RedHat)

    cheers
  19. Linux rebuttal[ Go to top ]

    I use linux everyday and I would like to say that KDE a decent UI. I myself use GNOME 2.0, but I must point out the following:

    <Dean>
    I use KDE every day on Redhat 7.3. It's fonts are second rate. The Motif keybindings are screwed up. I just spent some time on the nedit mailing list figuring out how to get the arrow keys on the numeric keypad to work. They now work in nedit, but I cannot use the numlock to enter numbers with the keypad now. The conclusion from the nedit maintainers is that the Motif keybindings are not implemented correctly on any Linux distro.
    </Dean>

    Sorry, the fonts are just as good as windows. Anti-aliased and all. Key bindings are the same as windows (out of the box) for KDE. Motif has nothing to do with KDE and I myself avoid Motif programs because they look like crap and are do not have a good UI.

    <Dean>
    Even though nedit works, there are some Java applications that don't work right (i.e. JEdit). It looks like there's an issue with keyboard support in the Linux version of Java, but nothing conclusive yet.
    </Dean>

    I use Java programs everyday and I'm yet to have any problems with keyboard support. I have used most versions of Sun's java and never seen the problems you mentioned.

    <Dean>
    Printing support is also crude. If I want to print a web page or a .pdf file I do it through IE or Acrobat on Windows instead of Mozilla or Acroread on Linux. (I use VMWare to run Win apps on Linux.) Maybe this is related to the fonts on Linux issue.
    </Dean>

    Okay, printing support is crude. Although it does work. The problem is that you can only usually choose the size of a page and wether to print in color or grayscale. Some programs allow you to choose between portrait or landscape, but many don't. Despite these problems you can print to a file (postscript) then convert that into a pdf. Then using (the linux version of) acrobat you can then print however you want. I've yet been unable to print a document using this method. Although this is less then ideal, it get things done.

    Linux also lacks support for many video stream formats. :(
    But I choose linux because overall it is the best for my needs (I'm a software engineer); unless I had lots of money to buy all the same software for windows.
  20. <quote> use KDE every day on Redhat 7.3. It's fonts are second rate. The Motif keybindings are screwed up. I just spent some time on the nedit mailing list figuring out how to get the arrow keys on the numeric keypad to work. They now work in nedit, but I cannot use the numlock to enter numbers with the keypad now. The conclusion from the nedit maintainers is that the Motif keybindings are not implemented correctly on any Linux distro.

    Even though nedit works, there are some Java applications that don't work right (i.e. JEdit). It looks like there's an issue with keyboard support in the Linux version of Java, but nothing conclusive yet. </quote>

    These are problems with your distribution not with KDE. I use SuSE Linux 8.1 and except some installation problems it's the best OS I've used so far.
  21. Now consider adding Apple to the mix. The Mac OS-X interface

    > could be ported to Solarix 9 x86 and then you'd have Itanium
    > based systems with a solid, mature version of UNIX and the
    > best UI in the business. (While Mac OS-X has a great UI the
    > underlying OS is lacking several things like a journaling
    > file system and clustering.) Technically this would be a
    > real best of breed combination.

    I believe Mac OS X Server 10.2 supports File System Journaling.
  22. I heard that Apple was working on file system journaling so maybe they've got a point release out with it by now.

    Another problem with OS-X is that they are a release behind with Java support. The difference between JDK 1.4 and JDK 1.3 is huge.
  23. Mac OS X and Java[ Go to top ]

    You can download the pre-release version of the 1.4.1 JDK from apples development site (which is free to join). I think its release is in the "immenent" stages.

    Apple's support for java is also suprising. It is a core piece of the OS. you can access virtually every Mac OS API from java. Very slick.
  24. Mac OS X and Java[ Go to top ]

    <quote>
        Apple's support for java is also suprising. It is a core
        piece of the OS. you can access virtually every Mac OS API
        from java. Very slick.
    </quote>

    Very slick and also defeats the purpose of Java in the first place.
  25. Apple has a PDF on File System Journaling in Mac OS X Server 10.2.2. See the link on this page:

    http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/
  26. Yes it does![ Go to top ]

    While Mac OS-X has a great UI the underlying OS is

    >lacking several things like a journaling file system and
    >clustering.

    It does so have a journaling file system!, it's pretty new, but was introduced into OSX a few months back.
  27. Dean:
    >This is just an imaginative thought floating around in my
    >head, based on the need for a good UI on UNIX. (I don't
    >conisder KDE or GNOME to be good UIs.)
    ...etc

    Love the thought. I like thoughts like this, cos I hadn't imagined that.

    Anyway, back on track. Sun and Java, I believe they are tied together. Without sun java would fracture under the pressure of open source groups going their own way. You need a strong body in charge. And that fact they are commercial rather than another committee is good IMHO - but I know loads of people will hate that.

    I also love their new blade and data center hype. I think it is entirely spot on. Everyone is hyping grid computing, storage area networks. Oracle is touting a growable data base through adding on cheap intel processors to the LAN.

    My problem with this has so far been the management of resources, the role out of apps and diagnosis of problems. Sun seems to be targeting this. They are doing so on their own hardware, which may be a HUGE problem. Because, no doubt, msoft will follow suit with intel. But since java is part (all?) of the sun solution maybe they will build the software part of it so it can work with any hardware.

    You now have a solution from sun which can allow data center grid computing, based on open standards, and hardware neutral. (maybe). With cheap hardware this would give me massive power, the chance to start small and grow organically, a buy in from Oracle, an environment for servers with build in efficient use of processor and storage resource. It's where the world wants to be.

    Sun will support Linux and Solaris and hopefully support blades and later intel, all on an open software platform (java).

    I believe that vision. The only gotcha is the price of 8Ghz PC's may make the entire grid computing idea redundant.

    Jonathan
  28. I didn't mean this to be a thread on KDE, but it has shown some of the underlying problems that a Dell/Sun/Apple merger could solve.

    The problems I've had with nedit and jedit also exist when I run Gnome on Redhat 7.3. These problems do not exist on Solaris 8/SPARC so it definitely is a Linux issue, probably an issue with Redhat's distro. Uneven support for Motif across the various Linux distro's is the kind of problem that could be solved with one company controlling the OS and UI. It would also avoid any OS / hardware coupling issues.

    Any X-based UI that doesn't support Motif properly is lame. All of the responses along the lines of "KDE works fine for me" aren't addressing any specific problem area. Do the arrow keys on the numeric keypad work properly on your Linux distro for Jedit and nedit? Can you use the numlock key to enter numbers off of the numeric keypad? Granted this is only one problem, but it is the kind of flaw that makes KDE an unattractive option (at least on Redhat).

    One other problem that this imaginary merger would solve is Sun's need for a successor to their SPARC architecture. I don't know how much longer they can ride that horse.
  29. <quote>The problems I've had with nedit and jedit also exist when I run Gnome on Redhat 7.3. These problems do not exist on Solaris 8/SPARC so it definitely is a Linux issue, probably an issue with Redhat's distro.</quote>

    These problems exist with the Sun JDK. If you need to run JDK 1.3.1 the you should choose the JDK from IBM and the keyboard problems are gone. Otherwise I recommend to use the newest version of the JDK.
    This is a long known SUN bug on Linux, nobody knows why they don't fix it.
  30. I'm using JDK 1.4.1 on both Linux and Solaris.
  31. Java has turned into peoples language Opensource and vendors are providing java with specs and improvement it needs. I think reporters are so overwhelmed with .Not marketing they think that Java may die with Suns demise. I disagree with that Java is platform not a language, futher more SUN is adopting linux to its line. Ok then if SUN does go away as a company Java will still thrive as it is adopted by players like BEA, IBM, Oracle, Sony, Nokia, Erricson, Samsung, ATT, Shell to name just a few.

    I am more in doubts about software company in Redmond whose desktop market and office market will very soon shrink since linux is gaining ground in desk and more people are get into openoffice and star office.
  32. I have been using Redhat Desktop for the last 4 months and it has been just a wonderful experience the gui is smooth and the desktop crashes are gone. Mozilla is like ligth years ahead of virus buggy IE. I am so fed up with windoze blue screen of death and virus issues ...sometimes I wonder having so much money M$ has not offered a decent OS yet . All windoze is buggy OS with flashy gui. Since migrating to Redhat 8.0 I never had virus issue or blue screen of death. I use variety of IDE for Java Development and they all run great in Redhat 8.0. We are currently migrating all appserver that was running in windoze to linux Redhat and load test showed atleast 15-20% performance improvement. We were so glad that we use oracle and other groups that use ms sql and ms ide seems to apply patches every day due to all the viruses and lets not talk about the buggy .Net app server ... they are very frustrated.

    To us Java has been the most successful development platform. Java has given us stability and scalability. We had VB apps that required 8 server boxes and was going down every day and boxes needed to be recycled every day that used cpu 60-100% ...M$ solution still gives us nitemares as developers. We converted that VB app to Java that required only one app server and took double the load with 50% cpu usage . We added one more appserver just for clustering/failover and these apps has not gone down since deployment... I know for some M$ trolls this would be hard to believe.

    I hope people would migrate to Linux desktop either in Redhat, Suse or Mandrake and finally feel liberated.
  33. about bogus posts[ Go to top ]

    ha ha Very funny. LOL.
    Or maybe you care to give us a little more info?
    No? I thought so.

    netcraft.com:
    "Windows 2000 site goes over two years without a reboot
    This month is the first time that a Windows 2000 site has appeared in the 50 top sites.."

    Regards
    Rof Tollerud
    someone (=app server vendors???) must be getting desperate!
  34. Best to have your clients using IBM 1.4 vm and J:Rockit 8 VM and stop using SUN JDK.
    .V
  35. You get what you pay for. I have been using linux as my primary operating system for over a year and I have installed it on almost every computer I can get my hands on. While Linux on x86 is very stable and suits my needs perfectly (i.e. configurable developement environment that can integrate with ANYTHING) it does have it's quirks. Red Hat 7.3 had a journaling issue when using the SMP kernel it shipped with causing system crashes when I ran WLS 7.0. Running Red hat 7.3 on a ABIT KT7 Raid also caused system instablities (maybe the raid drivers were culprit). I have also had several experiences with PC hardware going bad, especially the cheap stuff.

    My point is that in my personal experience linux on x86 is awesome platform but I would not run mission critical applications on it. It's like the old security adage, one wouldn't spend a million dollars to protect a dime, but one would also should spend a more than a dime to protect a million dollars. For small e-commerce sites it wouldn't make sense to spend a hundred thousand dollars on Sun hardware, but for sites that lose a grand every ten minutes they are down, it makes sense to spend more on hardware.


    I am a firm believer that there are no silver bullet computing solutions or a one-size-fits all platform. If Sun can differentiate themselves in the market from their competitors and prove value in the offerings, then there is no reason they will not be successful and prosperous. Just like people buy mercedes and SUV's, people will buy Sun hardware for it's advantages and perks.
  36. About Java[ Go to top ]

    From big companies to all the universities, millions of people are using Java. How can it fall? It is just impossible! Even C# try to simulate Java and even MS try to add a VM to their platform. So the comment about Java is ridiculous.

    From technical point of view: Java is using all the good points of C++ while throwing its bad parts. Java is NOT like any other languages in the history.

    In fact, I am really worrying about .NET, since it never gets popular as it is supposed to be. Let's see who will fall faster.

    Jack
  37. I remember back in the mid 90's when Microsofts MFC was the hot skill and I was told many times by fellow software engineers that the whole software business would switch to using Visual C++ and MFC.....I ignored this advice, stuck with UNIX, C++, learnt Java became and architect and tripled my salary - yeah!!

    Hardare is generally way ahead of sofware in development terms and is rapidly becoming a commodity. By way of example, the project I am currently working on now purchases IBM Regatta services. They can create virtual AIX servers with 2GB Mem, 1 CPU that are twice as fast as the fridge size boxes they delivered 1 year ago. All storage is networked (SAN), so disk is simply allocated in a couple of minutes without any cabling overhead...

    Admittedly I have not used Sun hardware since 98, but Sun need to be able to provide the same capability to even be in the game. When I did use Sun gear, I had a Sparc on my desktop and a Sparc server for development. Now I have a Dell PC, running W2K and Exceed so I can log onto one of the AIX virtual machines....what's next.....!!!
  38. worries for .NET[ Go to top ]

    Touching - I really appreciate your concern.

    Regards
    Rolf Tollerud
  39. the noble thing.....[ Go to top ]

    I think that Sun should do the noble thing- spin off java and the management of it into its own organization, independent from Sun-give java to the people. I'm quite certain that there would be no problem in finding sponsors for such an organization.

    Java is extremely strong, let it live without being in the shadow of Sun's possible demise. If Sun does spiral down, Microsoft will launch a campaign to convince companies that java is a bad idea.
  40. the noble thing.....[ Go to top ]

    They could call it JavaSoft ;-)
  41. the noble thing.....[ Go to top ]

    is that what javasoft was supposed to be? I don't know the history- but javasoft is a operating unit under sun- so it obviously isn't independent.