An Open Letter to Sam Palmisano, CEO, IBM Corp.

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News: An Open Letter to Sam Palmisano, CEO, IBM Corp.

  1. An Open Letter to Sam Palmisano, CEO, IBM Corp. (32 messages)

    Jonathan Schwartz has posted an open letter to IBM asking why they are not offering Solaris 10 support, and that customers are "feeling that your withholding support is part of a vendor lock-in strategy. A strategy to trap them into IBM's proprietary Power5 platform only."

    Open Letter
    Dear Sam,

    IBM and Sun have a long history of partnering. We've worked on Java together, more recently you joined us in the Liberty Alliance, helping to drive standards around network identity. We, and our customers, appreciate constructive partnership.

    As you're no doubt aware, Sun is set to ship the newest release of our Solaris operating system, Solaris 10. It's the most secure OS the world has ever seen - bringing mainframe features, like logical partitioning, to every platform on which it runs. Solaris is now available on over 300 systems, from vendors such as IBM, Dell, HP and of course Sun's SPARC and Opteron systems. We've made Solaris into a truly vendor neutral OS.

    Customers and partners have noticed. From Federal Express to Verisign, SAP and Oracle to Siebel, Veritas and BEA - from across the globe and marketplace - there is tremendous demand and support. They love that we're open sourcing Solaris, and that we'll be the first open source vendor to offer a commercial version of our product with indemnification against intellectual property lawsuits. They love that we can run linux apps unmodified. I'm assuming you've seen comments such as those from Tony Scott, CTO, General Motors, in the recent eWeek article - we've got dozens more customers happy to speak with the press about their growing concern.

    We've repeatedly passed along customer interest in having IBM support Solaris 10 with WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli, Rational and MQSeries products. Customers have made repeated calls to you and your staff. Those same customers have now asked me to begin communicating with you in a more public and visible way - they'd like the choice to run IBM products on Solaris 10, and they're feeling that your withholding support is part of a vendor lock-in strategy. A strategy to trap them into IBM's proprietary Power5 platform only.

    Frankly, that behavior is reminiscent of an IBM history many CIO's would like to forget.

    We've made sure your engineers know that moving from Solaris 8 or 9 to Solaris 10 takes no work, given that we offer true binary compatibility. If you're on SPARC, and you'd like to take advantage of a world of x86 systems, it's a simple recompile. There's no recoding at all. Same applies to scaling up from Intel or Opteron to SPARC. No recoding.

    So the technology is there, and so are the customers, partners and opportunities. But it's more evident by the day, the only vendors that fear choice are those trying to block it. We stand at the ready to help you tear down this wall.

    Regards,

    Jonathan Schwartz,
    President, Chief Operating Officer
    Sun Microsystems, Inc.

    Read more: An Open Letter to Sam Palmisano, CEO, IBM Corp.

    Threaded Messages (32)

  2. it's a simple recompile. There's no recoding at all. Same applies to scaling up from Intel or Opteron to SPARC. No recoding.

    That's what they all say;-)
  3. Re-compile[ Go to top ]

    A C program is normally portable across platforms as long as they use the standard library. Unfortunately, in order to take advantage of what an operating system or device has to offer, there tends to be platform specific libraries that is generally written assembly code or some closed library. This is especially true with larger applications that might've been hand tuned silly for the platform.

    So saying its a simple re-compile might not be as easy as you think. Even between versions or within versions, some things just do not work either because an OS call was originally buggy or slow and the application took advantage of it inadvertently.

    In any case, if the customer demand is high enough to reach IBM -- not some "competitor" just crying wolf -- it would get done and supported. But time is a resource, especially regression testing time which tends to get really slow if you have to perform Install Verification Testing.
  4. Re-compile[ Go to top ]

    A C program is normally portable across platforms as long as they use the standard library. Unfortunately, in order to take advantage of what an operating system or device has to offer, there tends to be platform specific libraries that is generally written assembly code or some closed library.


    Solaris has the exact same API's on both Sparc and x86. As for assembly language, strcpy() for years was written in assembly language on most platforms for speed, but that didn't effect portability one bit as developers write to an API.
    This is especially true with larger applications that might've been hand tuned silly for the platform.So saying its a simple re-compile might not be as easy as you think.

    In 99% of the cases it is as simple as a re-compile. Solaris the "platform" is the same on both Sparc and Intel. Unless someone drops down to coding in assembly language I don't see the problem. It gets even easier if the code was written in Java as is IBM's WebSphere!
  5. Re-compile[ Go to top ]

    Solaris has the exact same API's on both Sparc and x86. As for assembly language, strcpy() for years was written in assembly language on most platforms for speed, but that didn't effect portability one bit as developers write to an API.

    The API may be the same but the behavior can still be different. I worked on Solaris X86 in 2001 and it had a stupid restriction of allowing only 256 open files per process; the SPARC version allowed much more (64k?).
  6. Re-compile[ Go to top ]

    Solaris has the exact same API's on both Sparc and x86. As for assembly language, strcpy() for years was written in assembly language on most platforms for speed, but that didn't effect portability one bit as developers write to an API.
    The API may be the same but the behavior can still be different. I worked on Solaris X86 in 2001 and it had a stupid restriction of allowing only 256 open files per process; the SPARC version allowed much more (64k?).

    Not true ! Did your software use fopen() ?
  7. Re-compile[ Go to top ]

    Solaris has the exact same API's on both Sparc and x86. As for assembly language, strcpy() for years was written in assembly language on most platforms for speed, but that didn't effect portability one bit as developers write to an API.
    The API may be the same but the behavior can still be different. I worked on Solaris X86 in 2001 and it had a stupid restriction of allowing only 256 open files per process; the SPARC version allowed much more (64k?).
    Not true ! Did your software use fopen() ?

    We wrote a Java program on Sun JDK 1.3 that used the Nuance API (Nuance is speech recognition software) which had this kind of restriction. In the end, we had to run a number of Java processes in parallel to get around this (which also helped with garbage collection pauses :-).
  8. Re-compile[ Go to top ]

    Solaris has the exact same API's on both Sparc and x86...

    Yadi, yadi, yadi. As oneone with one bit of porting experience can say, things are not as simple as they appear. Porting any non-trivial system written in C can be a major undertaking unless portability was a definite goal from day one. In this case, I suspect it was not.
  9. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/01/25/sun_ibm_blog/
  10. Re-compile[ Go to top ]

    Solaris has the exact same API's on both Sparc and x86...
    Yadi, yadi, yadi. As oneone with one bit of porting experience can say, things are not as simple as they appear. Porting any non-trivial system written in C can be a major undertaking unless portability was a definite goal from day one. In this case, I suspect it was not.

    IBM's software runs on multiple hardware platforms and operating systems including Solaris 10 so in this case we can agree that the code is written for portability! Your acting as if Sun has asked IBM to port an AIX only product to Sun Solaris Intel, when all Sun is asking is that IBM's software which run's on a dozen or so operating systems/platforms including Solaris 10 Sparc be recompiled so Solaris customers can run IBM's software on commodity x86 hardware. x86 hardware is the real reason why corporations are interested in Linux as it's the only non-Windows OS that runs on x86.

    If someone can give me examples of exactly what problems a developer would have if they take C/C++/Java code that works on Solaris 10 SPARC and try to get it to run on Solaris 10 x86 I'd really appreciate it.
  11. Sun deserves no respect[ Go to top ]

    "As you're no doubt aware, Sun is set to ship the newest release of our Solaris operating system, Solaris 10."

    So, it's not even released and Mr. Schwartz is already making a stink about a vendor not supporting their not yet released OS. To put this in perspective to support a new OS, even one that claims compatibility, takes substantial testing effort, planning, and inevitably fixes. Sun, is trying to put IBM in a no win situation. Schwartz argues that IBM needs to support a new OS the same time that its released which means IBM has to break its back testing a new OS across an enormous software product line. Alternatively, IBM supports the new OS at its next fix pack release which means drones like Schwartz get to throw punches at IBM for not responding fast enough by changing IBMs own product development schedules to match Sun's whims (keep in mind that IBMs development plans were likely established months prior to Sun's communicated release dates of their OS).

    For what its worth it took months and months for IBM to add WebSphere support to RHEL3 and SUSE9 (a strategic platform for IBM). So, anyone that follows IBM knows that IBM spends considerable time/effort before adding a new OS to its supported list.

    For full disclosure I was a Sun contractor years ago and now work for IBM. When I joined IBM I thought Sun was an excellent company, however their practices over the last few years have forced me to reconsider my opinion of them entirely.
  12. RE: Sun deserves no respect[ Go to top ]

    For what its worth it took months and months for IBM to add WebSphere support to RHEL3 and SUSE9 (a strategic platform for IBM). So, anyone that follows IBM knows that IBM spends considerable time/effort before adding a new OS to its supported list.

    IBM isn't complaining that it needs a few more months to implements support for Solaris x86 and AMD64. It is just plain refusing to support it despite demands from MAJOR customers. Oracle, SAP and the rest of the industry have all annouced plans to support Solaris 10, so why is IBM pretending there is no demand.

    The answer is simple. They don't like Sun (as is very clear from this post by an IBM employee) and don't mind ignoring the customer in order pretend that Sun doesn't matter.
  13. RE: Sun deserves no respect[ Go to top ]

    Jack, you may have this at hand, is there an official answer from IBM ? Is there a statement saying "there is no demand" or "support won't come for x months" or "solaris 10 on x86[_64] sucks" ? If there is suck a statement I'd like to see it.
  14. oops, "such a statement", sorry... [insert edit message by owner rant]
  15. Some take-home points:
    1)There IS demand for S10 on X86 (GM is no small customer, for starts)
    2)S10 is THE most advanced OS on the face of this planet(you won't find anyone contesting that).
    3)IBM can't even dream of building such an OS.They've hence taken refuge in Linux.
    4)They're scared that sun will take the lead in server sales if S10 is allowed to flourish.
    5)IBM's move smells of monopoly and anti-competitiveness ala M$
    6)They don't realize that they can take advantage of S10 volumes and sell more licenses of (the slow,rickety, memory-hogging)websphere on an increasing number of S10 on X86 servers.There is a value proposition.
    7)I'm not a Sun employee. I just admire & respect the creators of such fantastic technology as S10. I give credit where it's due. :-)
  16. Too little, too late[ Go to top ]

    1)There IS demand for S10 on X86 (GM is no small customer, for starts)

    Yeah, but with something like < 1% market share of x86, it's got a ways to go before it's relevant. Personally, I am tired of Sun and it's endless search for an identity outside of Java.

    - In '02, they dropped x86 support for Solaris. No doubt realizing everyone was going Linux for x86 solutions. That year, they showed up on our doorstep (as a long time Solaris customer), pushing Linux HARD.
    - Then, they started OEMing RH on their x86 hardware.
    - Then, RH became the anti-Christ, they switched to Suse.
    - Now, they are open-sourcing Solaris 10 and pushing it hard, but also still pushing SUSe Linux on their hardware.

    What are they focusing on? Linux? Solaris? Anything but RH? Does even Sun know?

    > 3)IBM can't even dream of building such an OS.They've hence taken refuge in Linux.
    They just beat Sun to the punch. It's more 'embracing' than taking refuge. They realized LONG ago that Linux was going to be a major contender, while Sun continued to hide behind SPARC/Solaris.

    > 5)IBM's move smells of monopoly and anti-competitiveness ala M$
    How do you establish a monopoly in a decentralized OS with no 'owner'? Why would IBM build out their proserv to support something with a currently irrelevant market share? For an OS that has been IBM's #1 competitor for 15-20 years?
  17. RE: Too little, too late[ Go to top ]

    > 1)There IS demand for S10 on X86 (GM is no small customer, for starts)Yeah, but with something like < 1% market share of x86, it's got a ways to go before it's relevant.
    Until version 10 Sun never really put much effort into Solaris x86. Until this version Linux was much more efficient. Not surprising they haven't got much market yet, they only really get started when they release it on Monday.
    Then, they started OEMing RH on their x86 hardware.- Then, RH became the anti-Christ, they switched to Suse.
    Switching from RH to SuSe - isn't that what IBM is currently trying to do. What the good of a mind if you can't change it :)
    - Now, they are open-sourcing Solaris 10 and pushing it hard, but also still pushing SUSe Linux on their hardware. What are they focusing on? Linux? Solaris? Anything but RH? Does even Sun know? >
    It's called choice. If you want to run SuSe, RedHat or Solaris Sun will gladly provide you with any of these for your server. Most customers will prefer one over the other.
    Their Opteron servers (v20z, v40z) are even certified to run windows 2000 and 2003. Linux was the best solution for x86 until Solaris 10 provided x86 users with new functionality that is not available on Linux.
    3)IBM can't even dream of building such an OS.They've hence taken refuge in Linux.They just beat Sun to the punch. It's more 'embracing' than taking refuge.

    They realized LONG ago that Linux was going to be a major contender, while Sun continued to hide behind SPARC/Solaris.
    That's like saying IBM is hiding behind POWER/AIX.
    5)IBM's move smells of monopoly and anti-competitiveness ala M$

    How do you establish a monopoly in a decentralized OS with no 'owner'?
    Why would IBM build out their proserv to support something with a currently irrelevant market share?
    For an OS that has been IBM's #1 competitor for 15-20 years?
    Kind of odd that you say "a OS with irrelevant market share" has been "IBM's #1 compititor for 15-20 years".

    As for the monoply angle: The truth is that IBM has a major share of the AppServer and related software market. By refusing to respond to customer demand they are forcing the customers to use an OS they don't want to use. The fact that the OS is also Open Source has very little to do with it.
  18. RE: Too little, too late[ Go to top ]

    Until version 10 Sun never really put much effort into Solaris x86. Until this version Linux was much more efficient. Not surprising they haven't got much market yet, they only really get started when they release it on Monday.
    OK. At 100% year-on-year growth, and starting at the ~.5% share they probably have in x86, that's 4 years before they approach 10% share. Don't get me wrong, I am happy for the competition in the x86 space. It's just going to take a while to convince me that Sun is committed to x86 (again) for the long haul.
    It's called choice. If you want to run SuSe, RedHat or Solaris Sun will gladly provide you with any of these for your server. Most customers will prefer one over the other.
    Their Opteron servers (v20z, v40z) are even certified to run windows 2000 and 2003. Linux was the best solution for x86 until Solaris 10 provided x86 users with new functionality that is not available on Linux.
    Fair enough. I had thought Sun moved on from RH after the bashing McNealy gave them last fall.

    We'll all just need to wait and see if that 'functionality' is a key differentiator in the at-large server marketplace, or more niche things that won't justify migration from another platform, except for a small few.
    That's like saying IBM is hiding behind POWER/AIX.
    Yeah - if you call dumping more than $1B a year into Linux while porting it to/supporting it on all their hardware platforms plus AIX, zOS, etc, for the last 5 years hiding behind something.
    Kind of odd that you say "a OS with irrelevant market share" has been "IBM's #1 compititor for 15-20 years".
    Of course, by irrelevant market share, I am talking about Solaris x86. By competitors, I mean the two companies in general.
  19. Dude, sorry to say this really, but both your posts are way to definitive and qualify as zealotry.
    Moreover you make quite a few very hazardous and un-founded statements, accusing IBM of fear (yeah, right, at the shitload of money they're manking), monopoly and that their managers - that manage to bring loads of profit - don't see some angle with Solaris 10 on x86.
    Come off it really, just think about it: Sun makes solaris (product), they whine and beg to have IBM port their software to x86 (after Sun dropped solaris/x86!), IBM makes a lot of money from services and consultancy and they're saying "solaris 10 on x86 no real demand therefore not worth it" - now I'd really choose to belive the services company. It's really simple: company X makes product Y and wants company Z to port it's software to Y. If Z knows it's shit for a living and is very successful at it, then I really, really think Z is right and X is full of it.

    That aside, I've a very good impression about Solaris from what I've read about it, although I must say that 9/x86 was a pain in the neck to install and I couldn't get a bloody realtek/tulip 100M to work with it. I do hope that 10 got better at this.

    Cheers
  20. Interesting[ Go to top ]

    now I'd really choose to belive the services company (IBM). It's really simple: company X makes product Y and wants company Z to port it's software to Y. If Z knows it's shit for a living and is very successful at it, then I really, really think Z is right and X is full of it.
    Microsoft makes a very good living. Should I believe them when they tell us that Linux is useless? ;)
  21. RE: Sun deserves no respect[ Go to top ]

    Jack, you may have this at hand, is there an official answer from IBM ? Is there a statement saying "there is no demand" or "support won't come for x months" or "solaris 10 on x86[_64] sucks" ? If there is suck a statement I'd like to see it.

    Here we go:
    "IBM won’t be testing, certifying, or supporting its enterprise software applications on Solaris 10 for x86 platforms..."
    http://www.adtmag.com/article.asp?id=10517
  22. "IBM won’t be testing, certifying, or supporting its enterprise software applications on Solaris 10 for x86 platforms"

    So is this just about x86 support or sparc... is there any proof that IBM won't support sparc?

    If so is this really that bad?
  23. Vendor-neutral[ Go to top ]

    Solaris is now available on over 300 systems, from vendors such as IBM, Dell, HP and of course Sun's SPARC and Opteron systems. We've made Solaris into a truly vendor neutral OS.

    Over 300 systems, but only Sparc & X86 processors. No Power chips, no ARM, no PA-RISC. Funny that he mentions two vendors whose larger systems WON'T run Solaris.

    We've made sure your engineers know that moving from Solaris 8 or 9 to Solaris 10 takes no work, given that we offer true binary compatibility.

    If it was that easy, there would be no need for this letter, would it?
  24. Vendor-neutral[ Go to top ]

    No Power chips, no ARM, no PA-RISC. Funny that he mentions two vendors whose larger systems WON'T run Solaris.
    No single vendor,proprietary Systems, no legacy systems, no end-of-lifecycle systems. That's what the sentence translates to. Which is right. Sparc & X86 are the platforms that have volume and the platforms that matter. The rest of the chips can be used as door-jammers.btw, Sparc isn't a single manufacturer,proprietary chip like Power or itanium(only intel mfgs now).
  25. Then Why Doesn't Sun take advantage[ Go to top ]

    So the technology is there, and so are the customers, partners and opportunities.

    Why depend on IBM for Solaris adoption? If customers and the technology are there, why not support them directly with your own proserv.
  26. Will this work to generate sales?[ Go to top ]

    Software quality doesn't matter so much. Websphere doesn't make money because it's good but because IBM knows how to sell it.

    If Sun thinks IBM should spend money on offering support for Sun products they should sue. Otherwise I don't believe IBM shareholders would be happy to see resources spent to generate sales for another company.
  27. Will this work to generate sales?[ Go to top ]

    Software quality does matter. At least I hope it does. :)

    If IBM was to charge for the appserver like it's competitors do, WebSphere marketshare would be nowhere, compared to where it is now.

    I guess Sun's CEO just wanted to get even with IBM for their open letter to Sun to open source Java.
  28. Will this work to generate sales?[ Go to top ]

    If IBM was to charge for the appserver like it's competitors do, WebSphere marketshare would be nowhere, compared to where it is now.

    I don't understand. WebSphere is one of the most expensive AppServers around.
  29. That because some people still think IBM hasn't released a new product since WebSphere 3.5.

    By the way guys, IBM makes money(lots of it) from selling WebSphere(it's at version 6 now) and support services for it.

    And no, WebSphere doesn't come bundled with the hardware.You need to buy the license separately.
  30. I have a lot of feedback from WebSphere users but I don't know if 6 is a major improvement, 5 was bad but better than previous versions.

    WebSphere versus .NET:
    http://theserverside.com/news/thread.tss?thread_id=29653

    I wonder what IBM would do with a decent J2EE server priced right ...


    Cheers.
  31. It's not the conversion costs[ Go to top ]

    Isn't Solaris 10 brand new? I know they just made it open source today. IMB never does anything fast, why should support for Solaris 10 be any different. If Sun wants it so badly, they should pay IBM to do it.
  32. I'm terribly disgusted at all this yapping from Sun.
    I've seen this all over the place - from the attacks against IBM and RedHat to the "technical" articles on Java 5 (how fucking lame is it to compare Java5's <tt>enum</tt> against C's and going 'yeah we're sooo much OO than that' - when the C++ <tt>enum</tt> is type safe?!), full of half-truths and lowly innuendoes.
    I have great respect for the work and quality Sun has put into Java, Solaris, OOo and Gnome, but this microsoft-style bashing and slandering is simply lowly.
    I mean take a look at IBM - they get along just fine, from adding .NET stored procedures to DB2 to promoting Linux, from Power to PS3 - they have their shit together across the board. I'm really sorry Sun can't keep up with that, but they should have a bit of decency and a fucking spine.
    Bah, it's not even worth going beserk over.
  33. Testing, anyone?[ Go to top ]

    Scwartz says:

    "We've made sure your engineers know that moving from Solaris 8 or 9 to Solaris 10 takes no work, given that we offer true binary compatibility."


    "No work"? Does Sun have a QA engineers? If so, do they consider thier jobs to be "no work"?