Is the Sun shining?

Today Brian posted about Sun and their Sun Rays and thanks to that and to some comments from crazy people (yes, me), it caused quite a reaction within the Sun community.

First of all, it was simply a post, not a review of anything. And my comment there was specifically tailored to Craig Bender, a guy that I had great conversations in the past and for some reason (not sure if I pissed him off, if I said something not to be said, etc) he simply vanished. I knew if I mentioned anything like ‘SunRays suck’ or ‘SunRays are the reason why Sun had net losses of US$ 1.677 Billion in the first quarter of 2009′, I would be able to check if he was still alive. So minutes after my comment, BINGO. The fish got the bait. 🙂

So history and jokes aside, here is the deal. I know some people think that heterogeneous environments are the norm out there these days but in a way I disagree. At least based on my work on the field doing consulting services, most of my clients are indeed a Windows shop. Some do still have Novell (surprised?) but in most cases getting rid of it. And some do have some Unix but usually only for very specific back end requirements.

This brings us to this: for the user, even though there may be Novell, Solaris, HP-UX, etc behind the curtains, he has a Windows desktop and/or accesses one hosted either on TS/Citrix or as a VDI offering. His apps, even if they access data on a database running on Solaris, still has a Windows or web front end (running on a browser on top of Windows). So for all the user cares, this is a Windows environment. Does not matter you tell him all the databases are on Solaris running Oracle X. He does not give a crap and does not know it. I guess it is from this perspective that Brian made the comment he was a Windows guy.

For sure on the backend it is another story. It can be a mixed environment and probably is, considering Linux is free and I think even Solaris is free now. But even in this case what I see is usually the ‘Unix guys’ are not the same ones managing ‘Windows’. Same for the ‘Oracle’ people and so on. So still, you may be indeed a ‘Windows’ guy in a place where all the databases are hosted on Solaris servers running Oracle. You simply do not touch/see them at all, even as an administrator on the ‘Windows’ side.

Back to the title, after seeing all the losses Sun posted, no matter what they say they were probably not doing good. My accountant tells me if you are doing great you usually do not post a US$ 2.234 Billion net loss for the year with total net revenues reduced by US$ 2.4 Billion (compared to 2008 revenues).

Now with the Oracle acquisition, what can Sun really do? I have always seen their Sun Ray products as a big niche but there are no numbers out there to compare them to other thin client vendors (again, I am just trying to compare units moved and not really if they are better than the competition for reasons A, B or C). May be Craig will jump in and provide us with some numbers for comparison so I can prove (or proved wrong) they are a niche, on a niche market.

The bigger question I have is, is there anything Sun can really do to make an impact on this market (SBC/VDI) or is their fate to always be ‘another minor player’, ‘niche solution’ and so on forever? Maybe Craig is correct in all they may need is good marketing. Their Appliance Link Protocol is indeed cool and lightweight but is that enough to make SunRays widespread? So far, in 10 years since their introduction that is not what I could see. But again, if it has been a commercial success or failure it depends who you ask. Not sure how much money they invested over the years to get to what they have today and what was their revenue with such product line since 1999. This kind of number they usually do not post…

Technically I would love to spend a lot of time with their stuff, if Craig is willing to help me on that end. In exchange I would write an ‘Honest Opinions’ article, like my presentations at BriForum. An unbiased, no bullshit review of whatever I see, pointing out the strengths and the weaknesses. Or even present a session about my findings on the next BriForum! Why not?

If anyone has links to the products I will need to download to try their stuff, please go ahead and post them. For the hardware, again, I will need help from Sun to make it happen, assuming they want to make it happen.

And Sun people, my apologies if I pissed you off with my comment on Brian’s website. It was just really a joke to grab Craig’s attention.


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