Sun/Oracle Strategy Session · I’m live-tweeting the session, but Twitter is in trouble, I don’t see anyone’s tweets but my own, and I guess mine are going into a black hole for most people who follow me. There is some news here, which you can see (I believe) by keeping an eye on @timbray.
The EU and MySQL · [Disclosure: I have no non-public information on any of the MySQL-related aspects of the Sun/Oracle transaction, nor on the current anti-trust review, and I am not speaking for anyone but myself.] My guess is that the EU will eventually conclude that it would be very difficult for Oracle to kill or cripple MySQL, even if they wanted to. I think the more interesting question is whether Oracle can turn MySQL from a useful technology into an interesting business, something that in my opinion it’s never been. What I’m worried about, though, are unintended side-effects ... [2 comments]
OOW 2009 Day 2 · Further reports from a tribe not my own that speaks a language I have to work to understand. But I do like computers, and the trade-show floors (note plural) are beyond vast and have lots of ’em on display, so there are some big-iron pix in among the tourist narrative ... [3 comments]
Big Red · Which is to say, Oracle Open World. Extremely big. Extremely red ... [3 comments]
The Sun Web Stack · Boy, there’ve been a lot of releases go by, but officially, this is Web Stack 1.5. The Web Stack is a product I’ve been encouraging and cheerleading for quite a while. What’s interesting, of course, is the list of ingredients, especially including the Continuous-Integration Suite Formerly Known As Hudson ... [3 comments]
Us and Them · I have been notified by Sun’s legal staff that this posting may not be appropriate at this time, and asked to take it down.
Pumping Iron · I work at Sun because I like computers, so whenever we announce some, that’s a big day for me. Today’s iron is built around Nehalem. There are a couple of blades, a bunch of rack-mounts, plus 10GE and Infiniband switches (I have seen more than one internal Ethernet-vs-Infiniband fistfight; juicy stuff for geeks. My personal bet is on Ethernet). There will be tons of press releases and so on starting at the Sun homepage linked above, but for the real poop you need bloggers; the people who built these boxes and ran the benchmarks. Tushar Katarki has aggregated them in Sun rise over Nehalem. Let’s cut Tushar some slack on the cheerleading, he’s been working on these for a while and has earned the right to a little rah-rah; and he links to real bloggers ... [6 comments]
The Sun Cloud · Today at CommunityOne in New York, we’re announcing a bunch of Cloud-related stuff. Some of it has my fingerprints on it. This is my personal take on the interesting parts ... [22 comments]
C1 in NY · CommunityOne, that is. Just a few weeks from now: March 18th and 19th in Manhattan. I’ll be there talking about my Android work, and I’m also working very intensely on some other things we may, with luck, show the world. The program looks genuinely interesting; I’ll be there all day to take it in. [Update: Oh hey, as Simon points out, it’s free.]
What Sun Should Do · Sun is going through a lousy spell right now. Well, so is the world’s economy in general and the IT business in particular, but this is about Sun. This is my opinion about what my employer should do about it ...
Meat-Grinder! · It’s days like these that make it fun working for Sun. The new server’s official name is the T5440; they call it a “mid-range” box, but to me it looks like a monster; count the numbers for cores, threads, RAM, and so on. It’s astounding what you can fit into a 4U box these days ... [2 comments]
Pronounced “Keen-Eye” · We launched Project Kenai very quietly last Friday. It’s a developer hub with SCM and issue tracking and forums and all the other stuff you’d expect. We built it because we needed it, but it’s open for use by the world for free. For a newborn infant, it looks pretty good. Anyone can visit, but to create a project requires an invitation, which I have some of; contact me if you want one. There are lots of interesting things about Kenai; among other things, it’s a Rails app. Herewith the details. [Update: Nick Sieger responds to heat over “control”.] ... [14 comments]
Sun Web Server Open-Sourced · [This is one of four pieces of Sun news from last week; I actually got to make the announcements at OSCON but was too busy to blog]. We’re open-sourcing Sun’s own Web server (formally the “Sun Java System Web Server”), using (and here’s a surprise) the BSD license; I don’t know if we’ve gone BSD before ... [2 comments]
Sun + Joyent + Facebook · [This is one of four pieces of Sun news from last week; I actually got to make the announcements at OSCON but was too busy to blog]. The news is that we’re partnering with Joyent to offer one year’s free hosting for Facebook apps. I don’t really understand the Facebook-app ecosystem, but anything that reduces the barrier to entry has to be good, right?
OpenSSO and Enterprisey Open Source · [This is one of four pieces of Sun news from last week; I actually got to make the announcements at OSCON but was too busy to blog]. A couple of years ago, Sun’s software group launched the OpenSSO project, the open-source version of our big comprehensive suite of identity-management tools. Now, that project is a supported Sun product: OpenSSO Express. I don’t understand the software deeply enough to say anything authoritative about it, but the pricing-and-support model is interesting ... [1 comment]
Sun Web Stack · [This is one of four pieces of Sun news from last week; I actually got to make the announcements at OSCON but was too busy to blog]. The Sun Web Stack, shipping later this year, is an agglomeration of Web stuff (“Formerly known as CoolStack, also known as LAMP/SAMP”), and a fully-supported Sun product on both Solaris and GNU/Linux. Read on for details and discussion; this raises some interesting issues ... [8 comments]
Mike vs. Dave · This is gripping stuff. Today, Sun’s chief counsel Mike Dillon blogged a blow-by-blow report on our in-progress litigation with NetApp. The story of the case is pretty interesting, but the fact that a major corporation’s Chief Counsel is blogging it in real-time is ground-breaking, I think. Just as interesting is the only-slightly-redacted declaration by NetApp’s Dave Hitz (PDF), filed in the case, that Mike linked to. It’s a remarkably unvarnished take on the issues facing closed-source vendors with a portfolio of software patents in the era of Open Source. Wow.
That Was Quick · Wow, the Sun-MySQL deal just closed. That’s amazingly quick work for a corporate transaction of this size. Mind you, our Chief Counsel crushes patent trolls before breakfast. Now we can actually start sharing the nefarious plots we’ve been cooking up for Sun+MySQL; I hope those guys have been hatching some too. [6 comments]
Hey, Nick! · There’s this guy named Nick Kew whom I’d never heard of till last year, when I started working on mod-atom. He’s one of the core httpd gurus, and wrote the book on Apache Modules, which is what mod-atom is. So he politely tolerated a flurry of clueless-newbie questions from me, and I feel guilty that I didn’t buy the book. Anyhow, he’s just come to work for Sun. I’ve already told him gleefully that I shall now feel guilt-free about the questions. But seriously, it makes me happy to be bringing some more httpd expertise on board, given that it’s perhaps the single most important software component of the whole World Wide Web. Welcome aboard, Nick! [1 comment]
Launch Party Vancouver Jan. 25 · There’ll be geeks, VCs, hangers-on, and good times, all at the Launch Party Vancouver 3 this Friday at the notorious Lamplighter. And there really is going to be a launch: Sun’s Startup Essentials will be doing its Canadian launch. That’s a program that’s easy to understand. Be less than four years old. Have less than 150 employees. Get cheap hardware. I’ve got a gig in Austin that day and even though I free up in the morning, will have trouble getting home for the party. Pfui. [6 comments]
The T2 Servers · These T5x20 servers we’re announcing today are a big deal. My bet is that they end up making Sun a lot of money; but on the way, they’re going to bring the whole server business (not just Sun’s piece of it) face to face with some real disruption ...
Website Gems · It’s hard for corporate Web sites to be interesting. My feeling is that generally, you’d like them to make it easy for people to find what they need, and otherwise get out of the way. Having said that, there are two Sun-Web things that, just in the last week, gave me a big smile. First, FOSS Open Hardware Documentation. One of the major obstacles faced by the people who build Free and Open-Source operating systems (i.e. us, the penguinistas, and the BSDers) is getting the hardware builders to publish specs; historically, they’ve been frightened of those weird open-source hippies. Well, we’re a hardware builder, and that page is trying to aggregate all the specs that kernel-builders might need. Simon Phipps tells me that this is a big job, with lots of legal due-diligence, and it’ll never be complete. But at least a good start. Second, check out this screencast about wikis.sun.com. When this went by in the internal email I skipped it—who’d watch a screencast about a wiki? But hey, it’s good, check it out. [1 comment]
Green Biz · Wow, was my employer ever busy while I was hiding in Saskatchewan. I think this whole Eco Innovation launch is maybe the most important thing we’ve done since I joined in 2004. There are a whole lot of arrows pointing the same direction: The rising, and generally uncontrollable, cost of energy. The space and HVAC constraints in modern data centers. The future of the planet. It’s not (quite) an emergency yet, but there are plenty of environmental, economic, and political scenarios that could land us in (not entirely figurative) hot water pretty damn quick, alone or in combination. I suspect the whole industry’s going to be climbing in this bandwagon; it would be irresponsible not to. [3 comments]
NASDAQ: JAVA · Wow, they switched the ticker. It will be little surprise to hear that the internal conversation has been sustained and loud. While there have been negatives along the lines of “OMG WTF PHB!?!?”, most of the internal talk has echoed what they’re saying out in the blogosphere. I’d like to add a couple of points I haven’t seen elsewhere, one each on the pro and con side ... [7 comments]
Misreading the Tea Leaves · This IBM deal seems to me dazzlingly simple to understand. Both of us think there’s money to be made in supporting Solaris, and IBM apparently thinks there are system sales to be facilitated by including Solaris in the package. We think that any time anyone’s using one of our products, that makes them a better candidate to use more of our products. On the other hand, pundits like Dana Blankenhorn look into the bottom of their teacup and say we’ll be leaving the server business; I saw some finance site running the same speculation. Um... I don’t think so.
Atomic Financial Publishing · Well, the first-ever release of a major public company’s financials via the Web, in advance of the conventional newswire service, is history. It went OK, but we can do better. Obviously, these discussions have been going on for a while, and observant readers may have noticed I visited Washington last March. However, the go-ahead to do the numbers on the Web came very recently, and so the mechanism was an ordinary RSS feed. We should publish this in Atom, and do it over a TLS channel, and supply a digital signature. Stand by for next quarter ... [2 comments]
FY07: Disclosure · I’ve never before commented on Sun’s financials or share price, so I should start off by emphasizing that I’m not a financial insider, in theory or practice; I have exactly zero advance knowledge on how any given quarter’s going. I haven’t worked at a big public company since the Eighties, so I don’t know whether this is typical, but I’ve been impressed at the data control; there’s certainly a rumor mill here but I’ve never heard a single whisper on financials. Anyhow, this all means I can buy and sell shares whenever I want, and I have been ... [1 comment]
Which “One”? · At the beginning of the week now ending was Community One, an opening act or a curtain-raiser or a prelude or whatever for Java One. I was on stage twice, once in the opening, and managed to visit (I think) all of the tracks. I was one of three thousand or so people there. It’s taken me a few days to figure out what I think about it ... [2 comments]
Anniversary Sale · The Sun bloggers regularly get tipped off when we’re going to be rolling out a new computer or OS or licensing scheme. This is something different: the 25th Anniversary Sale. Unless they were lying during the briefing, there are some really decent deals to be had for the next couple of weeks. I wonder if this works for servers like it does for department stores? Also, whether asking bloggers to talk about it helps. [3 comments]
California Trip Miscellany · Sun schedules the Analyst Summit and the Worldwide Education and Research Conference in the same week in San Francisco, which works well, because it lets those of who pitch in at both (which is basically everyone outward-facing) save on travel and transit. But combine that with some real interesting engineering discussions and some VIP visitors and, well, there go three days ... [4 comments]
Intel Inside · For some cheap chuckles, check the Web sites and consider the subtle differences between Intel’s spin and ours. I had no idea this was going to happen this week, but a few months ago I was in a room where Andy Bechtolsheim allowed that, yes, Intel was playing some damn decent catch-up, so the writing was pretty well on the wall. Andy’s explanation of the finer points of the trade-offs requires the best part part of two whiteboards to lay out and an alert well-caffeinated mind to follow, so I won’t even try. But... ain’t competition wonderful? For the foreseeable future, I bet almost all systems vendors will ship both Intel & AMD silicon. Hearty, honest congrats to Intel for getting back in the game. Both sides of the arrangement look to me like a win for both sides; as Otellini says, Solaris is a big deal in some markets that Intel wants more of, and if they say they can make it run better on the chips they build, I’d be inclined to believe them. Should be fun times in the server biz, hang on tight. [1 comment]
Cheap Iron · What happened was, very shortly before last month’s Startup Camp, they started cooking up this idea of selling Sun gear really cheap to startups. Someone asked “Can we announce it in conjunction with that camp?” and the answer was “Well, uh...”, so we did. So, we all of a sudden had a bunch of people wanting in, and our lawyers told us “You have to exercise due diligence to make sure they really are real startups” and someone had to cook up a process out of nowhere double-quick. It seems to be working; yesterday Adam Kalsey got approved and dumped the numbers. I saw it and thought “Hah, gotta blog that” but Jonathan beat me to it; damn he’s quick. Check those numbers; I’m no expert in our pricing but a couple that jump off the screen at me are the big Ultra 20 and the Thumper (X4500). How can this not be a good idea? [1 comment]
Startup Essentials · I’m here at Startup Camp, which is a blast and I’ll write about it. But I just heard that we’ve gone public with the Sun Startup Essentials program. That page is a little marketing-heavy but I can squeeze it into a sentence: If your company is in the US, is less than four years old, has 150 employees or less, and you’re willing to run Solaris, you can get deep, scary-deep, discounts on our hardware. Check it out. Hmph, they don’t say what the discounts are, you have to join up and log in to see them. Also, it’s a bug that this only applies in the U.S., I assume we’ll fix that. But still, this seems like A Good Thing. [Update: They removed the Solaris requirement.] [2 comments]
Practical Transparency · A few days ago, our CEO Jonathan Schwartz sent a letter to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox calling for SEC financial-disclosure regulations to allow for publishing material financials on the Web. It’s obviously a good idea, but there are some implementation issues. (Hey, I’m an engineer, I can’t help it.) ... [12 comments]
Sometimes You Win · Way back in March, I helped out on a sales call on the Oregon State Government down in Salem. It’s taken forever for the deal to close, but our partners, Propylon, won the business, against determined competition, and from what I know of this domain I suspect that they weren’t the lowest-cost offering either. There’s some Sun business in there too. Propylon’s legislative drafting system builds on OpenOffice.org in a seriously cool way; it’s exactly the kind of thing we thought we were enabling when we were designing XML. I wish I got to do more sales calls.
Blogging Surfing Lawyer · And not just any lawyer, either. Mike Dillon, our Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, has joined the blogosphere. I’ve talked to some of our attorneys and it turns out there are practical reasons why it’s tough for a corporate lawyer to blog about their work; so it’s really terrific that Mike’s taking the plunge. I suspect he won’t be sharing any juicy litigation details, but a fresh voice in the conversation is an unambiguously good thing; I’ll be listening.
Shameless Hucksterism · They asked me to plug this SDN promo on the Ultra 20 and, since I actually use one, it seems like a reasonable thing to do. I’m kind of out of touch with what workstations are supposed to cost, but unless we’re charging way too much, 35% off should be decent. And while I didn’t pay for mine, I can personally testify that these puppies are meat-grinders, it’s by a long shot the fastest personal computer that I’ve ever used. Mind you, it won’t enhance the decor of your office. And if you get one, take my advice and run GNU/Solaris on it. [Update: Er, uh, there doesn’t seem to be any information behind that link on how you actually get the box, or what it costs. Blush. Will ask around and fill in.]
Scott · I’ve been watching our internal leadership conference and spending quite a bit of time talking in the virtual hallways, and I’ve been surprised at the intensity of feeling about Mr. McNealy. Yes, there are those here saying “About bloody time, now we can make some progress” but there’s a much bigger group that is genuinely emotional about this transition. Maybe it’s a function of seniority: I never met nor corresponded with Scott, and he hasn’t been much of a presence in the company’s conversation in the time I’ve been here. But there are a lot of smart, seasoned, unsentimental people making it clear that he’s been a major force in their lives, at a more personal level than I’m used to hearing when people speak about executives. I guess also that to a lot of people, Sun’s vision, for which Scott gets some of the credit, was a radical and wonderful thing. I first used Unix in 1979 and quit a nice big-company job to become a VAX-bsd sysadmin in 1983, so I’ve always kind of lived inside that vision. But I’ll tell you one thing, what I’ve been hearing the last couple of days makes me really regret that I didn’t get to know Scott.
24 Sun Months · Gosh, I missed my anniversary a week back. I stand by pretty well everything I said this time last year. The things I’m trying to convince Sun to do now are much harder than turning on blogging, so it’s more painful and slower and sometimes I spend a whole day in a bad mood. But I’m not giving up, no no no. I’ve gotten emotionally engaged, this company still has some moss on the sides and some grit in the gears, but with a little more shaking out and scrubbing down, has the potential to be great again, and it’s worth trying. Here’s one reason: Right now, I don’t think anyone really knows how software developers are going to be going about their business in five years. In some respects a moment of unusual clarity, because we know that we don’t know. Here’s something cool: two or three times in the last few months, I’ve talked to someone here who wanted to do something about something, and I’ve said “You need to talk to...” and introduced them to someone else here that they hadn’t known.
Discipline? · Having recently agreed with Nicholas Carr on search economics, I’d now like to disagree with him on the subject of my employer. Carr is obviously a smart guy, but his recent Sun and the data center meltdown seems bafflingly simplistic. He’s complaining, it would appear, that we’re doing too many things: we give Dell a hard time (yep), we holler that eco-responsibility is good business (yep), we ship what we claim is the fastest Web-server CPU on the planet (yep), we focus on volume (yep), we let anyone try our software for free (yep), we seem to be having fun (“pod duel”—yep). Hey, I’m with Carr on one item, I don’t want to go anywhere near “Web 2.0”, but as for the rest... because we ship fast chips, we shouldn’t worry about volume? Because we think Dell is losing focus, we shouldn’t push the free-software idea? And so on. This is a big company. We’re working on a lot of things. Is this perhaps nostalgia for a simpler era in which companies had one simple message at all times and spoke it with one voice? I don’t think the world in general or the IT world in particular are like that; there are a lot of problems and a lot of opportunities and we have the scale to address a bunch of them. Anyhow, Carr left out Microsoft interoperation and grid computing and new pricing models and and observability and lots of other good stuff we’re working on. Right now is not the time to be doing less.
Angry at the Cat · This is my one-year anniversary at Sun, and I just wrote a little sermon about the company. On a personal note, by way of amplifying that little disclaimer over to your right, I should say this: I wake up before anyone else in the house, even when I’ve been working late, which is usually. When I come downstairs our mangy old loudmouth cat accosts me for breakfast and I have to feed him or he’s gonna wake up the family. And that 60-second delay really irritates me because I can’t wait to get online and see what’s happening. Which is to say, I’m having fun. I’m in the computer business where I belong, and I’m getting chances, in a small way, to make a difference here and there. Thanks are due at this point to Simon Phipps and John Fowler for getting me the job, to Rachel Laxa and Lorena Cerillo for helping me figure out how things work, to Juan Carlos Soto for good advice and moral support, to a lot of other people at Sun for letting me run with some of my weird ideas, and to Lauren for putting up with my enthusiasms. Oh, and as of today, I’m a shareholder too. So call me a soulless corporate drone, baby, I can take it.
One Sun Year · Today, March 15th, is my first anniversary at Sun; an opportunity for discourse on how I think we’re doing. There’s a unifying theme which may come as a surprise: The important stuff, well, it’s boring. Which is both good and bad ...
Norbert! · That would be our Norbert Lindenberg, whose blog is about internationalization and is called “World Views” and is excellent. A couple of days ago he showed where we need to be better world-citizens in our customer-facing internal tools, and today he follows up with an absolute slam-dunk demonstration of why you’d be nuts not to do the right thing. His chart is superb; you can bet I’m going to be using it to help get the message across, down the road. Oh, and the meta-message: when you empower your people to speak out, someone who’s smart and courageous and has initiative, like Norbert, can step up and exercise leadership.
Listen to the Lark · Andy Lark that is, Sun’s VP of Global Communications, who’s on-stage for earnings announcements and Microsoft truces and so on. A conventional marketing pro’s conventional marketing pro, you’d think, right? Well, maybe not; he’s got a homestead on the blogosphere where you can read Triangulation Of News, a clear-eyed take on the way the wind’s blowing. I wonder how many VPs of Global Communications out there get it like this? And what the world’s going to be like when they all do?
Meet! Meet! Meet! · Back in Vancouver, thank goodness, and I’m not complaining about the moist grey weather. Last week to Brussels to meet the European Commission, then back to Vancouver to pick up the tent and head to Foo to meet with, well, everybody, then to the Valley to put on my corporate hat for multiple sessions around Open-Source and blogging and syndication. Lots of people spend their whole lives in meetings; I’m not strong enough, but still, a good week. Herewith a few words and a picture ...
OpenOffice Furore · My goodness, there are oceans of words being pumped around about some subclauses in the Sun-Microsoft agreement. I love Slashdot’s editorial judgment but despise the idiotic discussion threads, so suffice it to say that the usual people said the usual things there about Sun and Microsoft and litigation; but then check out Danese Cooper’s take. Anyhow, I think it’s sensible to be concerned about the potential threat. Of course, that concern would vanish if Microsoft were to state that they won’t use intellectual-property litigation as a competitive weapon against other office-software packages. Simple enough. How about it?
JIS on Commodities · Normally, when I point to pieces by people from Sun, I try to focus on the ones who are just getting going and perhaps could use a little extra traffic. Well, Jonathan Schwartz is already well-established; ongoing gets more traffic just from being on his blogroll than from a Dave Winer flame. So I’m flabbergasted that Jonathan’s piece on commodities hasn’t been either slashdotted or written up in the Wall Street Journal, or both; how often does the President of one of the tech industry’s big players drive a stake in the ground and shout “This business is like the railway business, and that’s good”? Go have another look.
Java1 Day1 · Spent the day at my first-ever Java One: herewith stories and pix, including a notable blogging first ...
San Fran, OK · I had an interesting Friday, up and down the Peninsula and with lots of tasty flavors ...
blogs.sun.com · It’s been running for some time, and it’s stable enough now to talk about in public: blogs.sun.com is a space that anyone at Sun can use to write about whatever they want. The people there now are early adopters; there’s an internal email going out to the whole company Monday officially reinforcing that blogging policy, encouraging everyone to write, and pointing them at blogs.sun.com. Herewith a few remarks on the setup and process ...
OO.o Online · Hah, I see that the OpenOffice crowd is decloaking. Some of it I found quite difficult to read, but your mileage may vary. My favorite so far is Eike Rathke, pretty geeky stuff but with the essential spin: you-gotta-laugh-or-you’ll-go-nuts. Particularly if you work with STL.
Planet Sun · Several people have pointed to Planet Sun, a rather good aggregation of all the known Sun bloggers. It’s done by David Edmondson, whose own uncollected thoughts is well worth visiting. Also worthy of note in recent days is Mike Duigou on Complexity, which totally captures the mental pain consequent on confronting a big new hairy URI. (But that whole Java.net space is organized in a weird way that I don’t quite get; hmm...). Also, Planet Sun is a clever name... for the next such project how about Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun? [For the under-40s, that’s a druggie-Sixties-music reference -Ed. (Yeah, but a great tune! -Tim)]
Sunny Boy · As of today, I work for Sun. Let’s see; Java rocks. Microsoft sucks. I can play that tune ...