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In McNealy's Cosmos, the Sun is Going to be Shining Bright for the Next Decade
In McNealy's Cosmos, the Sun is Going to be Shining Bright for the Next Decade

--“We're getting drilled for spending billions of dollars on R&D. Our attitude is: how can you not invest in R&D?”--

(Las Vegas, November 19, 2002) – It was a tradition begun just last month in San Francisco, when Sun’s executive vice president for software, Jonathan Schwartz, bet his boss Scott McNealy $2 that McNealy wouldn’t manage to avoid mentioning Microsoft during his speech.

On that occasion, Sun’s chairman, president, and CEO took the bet - and collected his money after his talk. But here in Las Vegas yesterday, during his COMDEX keynote speech, the jeans-clad Sun supremo mentioned the name not only of Microsoft but also Dell, IBM, HP, Oracle, BEA and others in what turned out to be a wide-ranging – and suprisingly candid – survey of the newly defined landscape for Sun and its competitors.

So it was Jonathan Schwartz’s turn to collect the $2.

McNealy wasn’t in any mood to beat about the bush. There are currently only three real choices in the server or data center architecture market, he maintained: in the 64-bit area, the choice is between Sun and IBM, while at the lower 32-bit end, it’s Microsoft. Then he contradistinguished the three companies from each other.

The problem with IBM’s strategy, as McNealy sees it, is that it is what he termed “un-integratable.” He compared it to “assembling an automobile in your garage while you watch and while you try to get to work.” He contrasted this approach with Microsoft’s solution, which he admitted an “integrated system” since it offers all of the software for the architecture but none of the hardware. He referred to it as an architecture that is “welded shut” so that you don’t get best of breed and you can’t mix and match to get the best solution.“Their strategy is buy one, buy all,” he said.

Ever the master of the choice phrase, McNealy was on top form in yesterday’s keynote address. For a company to let IBM’s Global Services folks into their IT systems amounts to a “self-imposed lobotomy,” he quipped at one point.

McNealy explained why the No. 1 goal of Sun Microsystems right now is “reducing complexity” in the workplace. That was, so far as Sun was concerned, he said, the most significant challenge of the next ten years. “We're getting drilled for spending billions of dollars on R&D. Our attitude is: how can you not invest in R&D?”

Over the next five to ten years, McNealy continued, Sun “will build computers on the network and out of the network, using network-based components instead of the old style of just connecting computers to the network.” This will create what he dubbed the “network server system.”

When he says that the Sun strategy, unlike IBM’s and Microsoft’s, is designed to be “integratable” what he means, said McNealy, is that Sun can most certainly provide everything from the operating systems and the servers to the microprocessors, the storage, the application environment, the programming languages, and the support. But that the customer still gets to pick and choose.

“This is all in a ‘Lego-like’ environment that allows them to take out any piece they don’t like or don’t need,” McNealy explained.

There were other ways of reducing complexity, McNealy said, from demanding that your IT vndor build and test the system in its factory and not (continuing the IBM jibe) in your garage; to requiring developers and purchasing agents to build and buy aplications that run not on an OS but on the Java Sun environment.

“Above all,” McNealy said,” in a final and unmistakable sideswipe at .NET, “you should insist on a choice of application and middleware that has an open interface and uses open standards, and develop an access and mobility plan that has interoperability, single sign-on, and true authentification ability.”

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 2

The .net thing is still born and will never catch on, no matter how long the marketing blitz continues. People don't really want to be locked into a second rate platform while paying top dollar for it. There are many better alternatives, even free ones. This is especially true if your doing server side development, like something you might run your busness on.

You comments on tools are way off base too. I can download the SunONE Studio Community Edition free of charge. I've used it for many years and know it to be a very capable and well established java IDE.

I also beg to differ on their workstations, which are top quality performers that are well worth the investment. Also, a brand new 64 bit Sun workstation can be purchased for under $1000.00. Try to buy an Itanium (aka "titanicium", pc mag) system for under a thousand. Also, on this machine I can run run Star Office and SunONE application server, in addition to the SunONE studio ide all free. This is a complete developer setup that would cost you far more on your crappy (as you say) 32 bit dell. If you're equipping a team of developers, this represents some serious savings here. You'd need a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription per developer to even begin to come close to the free Sun bundle. The MSDN subscriptions will cost you ~2k each. So, now you're up around $2500.00 and locked into crap. Just don't don't forget to pay your subscription tribute money on time or you will not get the upgrade price. Have fun with the lemmings.

John Hogan

Where would Microsoft get all of it's new ideas?!

Enough said.

That's the whole point. If they did, they would become taxable under a higher tax system, the dividend itself would be taxable at the top rate of 39.6%. Bottom line: if they paid a dividend they wouldn't be so profitable. They might not even be profitable at all.

Instead Bill Gates prints new shares and sells them ($2.9 billion-worth of them last year), being taxed at the lower stock sale rate of 20%, himself. This is how he aquired his great personal wealth.

So, to summarize: Microsoft shares cost $55 each, but they won't earn you a divdend, and if you liquidated the whole company you'd get about $4 a share. Go figure.

When McNealy said "the network is the computer" he didn't think that far. Grid computing is emerging as a major construct to replace high-end servers. And you guessed right: the replacement is Intel boxes running LINUX. Java is and will be everywhere. But unless SUN is cooking-up something really good it will be no business model for SUN in JAVA either. So what will it be: Native Java chips, JXT everywhere and web-servicesor just SUN's eclipse?

Yes, they DID make money for their shareholders. If the shareholders sell their shares, they would make $4.4 Billion in profits.

Sorry, that must be confusing for you.

I did provide constructive criticism of his 'vision' or lack thereof. There are many things that Sun does wrong, and I provided details of some of these.

I am not going to solve all of his problems for him in a discussion forum for free.

You on the other hand, *cannot* even find anything to contribute.

When Scott quoted "Sun will build computers on the network and out of the network..." Is this strategy, "The N1"? Can Sun recreate the same paradigm Java did to the software engineering world? I personally don't care about all verbal trashing and whining, but I do care what N1 project can really do.

Read the link from Business 2.0

MS didn't make $4.4 billion for shareholders. They don't pay any dividends. Shareholders get nothing except the hope of future price growth. MS is stockpiling cash and leaving out their shareholders.

Scott McNealy should spend less time talking and more time DOING.

What is he REALLY doing?

1. Is wasting so much time tilting at the MS "windmill" by selling hardware and software for incredibly cheap or free. How do you maintain a viable business model after the dot-bust doing this w/o backing it up with one or more revenue driving products (read: MS Windows, Office)

2. Is driving out his staunchest supporters by his business tactics... who, other than Mr. McNealy, is still left from the former top brass?

3. Seems to have "rediscovered" R&D after killing IBM and HP for it's lack of it in the UNIX space many years ago... now the tables have definitely turned and Sun is the one with the less innovative products.

Most Sun admins I speak to, today, are happier managing UNIX systems from other vendors, as they're easier, more integrated, etc.

Now it's really time for Sun to "stand and deliver", and put some actions behind it's bluster!

You should ask yourself HOW did M$ 4.4b$ ?
By increasing the price for their software !!!
If another company did this stunt, do you think that its customers would remain loyal ???
Only a monopol can do this, and I know what I'm talking about because I lived in Romania, which was a big communist monopol, and be sure that nobody liked.
Open your eyes and learn something, boy.

Most of those submitting responses are no better than McNealey. Whether you like him or Sun, provide constructive criticism of his message or vision. Personal, mindless attacks are no better than those stupid comments from Bill gates et al about Gnu/Linux being communistic and unamerican.

.Net is still not established, but Java has stalled. So rather than take advantage of the 2 year (max.) lead-time he has, to do something about it, McNealy has nothing to do but bitch about MS and the rest. Sun workstations are the priciest, least bang for the buck systems, and come bundled with software which is useless, and hard to install. If you want development tools, it comes with oppressive subscription based licensing. Their development programs and tools are targeted toward cavemen, their software (Java apart) at misguided UNIX loyalists.

Find out what Sun offers for the crappy Dell machine that costs $699. A lot of headache and PROPRIETARY hardware. Add to that Java, a PROPRIETARY language and you have a very expensive paperweight. And you will have problems buying one! Sun cannot even sell the crap right! They want to know details about your company's financing rounds when you offer to pay CASH! Yes, to BUY a Sun workstation!!!

In two years .Net will obliterate the Java momentum or what is left of it, in much the same manner the Pocket PC has brought Palm market share down a lot quicker than Dow, and is now busy destroying it completely.

Wonder what the whiner would say about anticompetitive practices on that front. From scratch to dominance in less than a decade!

Sun is DONE. That's GONE with a D for McNealy and his fellow whiners!

When you say "integratable",why don't it also mean building the applications that have front end in JAVA and Back end in C++.......If you say JNI is there....JNI today seems a risky bridge...a plethora of issues...of which no one(SUN or MS) is going to take responsibility. Tell me who is working on improving it or giving its support?? My 4$

I work on Sun servers EVERY DAY. "Reduction of Complexity" is NOT something that comes to my mind when I think of Sun. The only thing Sun has done right is Java, and even then they are holding onto it far longer than they need to.

Sun should concentrate on making Java-centric products and services, turn Java into an open source project and get out of producing hardware and OS'. Linux will eat their servers' lunch in the end anyway.

If McNealy spent half as much time innovating as he did whining about MS, he might make $1B for his shareholders btw: MS made $4.4B for their shareholders)

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