Sun reveals its open-source ambitions

Open source is changing Sun dramatically...for the better.

Sun is increasingly one of the industry's most interesting open-source companies, and confirmed its ambitions on Monday during an "open source at Sun" day. At the show (which, unfortunately, I couldn't attend as I'm on vacation) Sun offered an updateon its open source plans, including GlassFish, OpenSolaris, and other projects.

I particularly found this Java/language project interesting:

Afoot is a "kitchen sink" language project to explore new language features that could wind up in Java. Another effort project is intended to improve performance of languages other than Java, such as Ruby and Python, to run on the HotSpot Virtual Machine.

Sun, whatever its setbacks, has always been an innovator. It's excellent to see that innovation going into open source now, where it can appreciate in value over time, rather than immediately falling (or rising) in value with the company's stock price. Open source frees up a company's value from its financial fortunes, which is good for the company and even better for its customers.

I'm betting that one highly positive thing at Sun right now is the universal vision of its executives for open source. No one has to waste cycles debating whether this project will be open source while this other one will not. The onus is always on the "not" to justify itself, rather than the reverse. This means that the business model thinking at Sun will also be innovative as its employees figure out how to both give away and to monetize code at the same time.

It's why Sun is an interesting company right now, whereas many of its competitors (even some of its more financially successful ones) are not. I'm confident that interest will turn into cash over time.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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