Sun, Solaris, and a new chance to shine

Sun isn't dead yet. Far from it. It's actually winding up for a new life with open source. The question is whether or not Solaris is a boon or a curse as it goes into this opportunity.

With 12 million Solaris licenses now in the market, Sun's Solaris is no slouch. And while people like I talk up Red Hat's clean-up of the "certification market" [PDF] (with over 3,000 applications certified for RHEL), the chart below indicates that Solaris actually has a pretty compelling application certification story to tell.


The question is, "Is it enough?"

A few days ago I suggested that Sun would be wise to partner closely with Ubuntu (Read: Acquire Canonical). It seems the easiest route to continued open-source momentum as Linux vendors continue to cut into Unix. But there's a compelling story in the Solaris numbers that suggests that it may live on for a very long time.

This isn't to say that Sun shouldn't be looking to Linux for continued growth in Linux. I believe it should. The market is behind Linux and Sun could send Linux into hyperdrive. Just consider what it brings to the Linux table:


Not too shabby.

The future of Sun is to corral the expanding choices that open source offers, which includes Linux, as Marten Mickos underscored at the Linux Foundation's recent conference:

"We are still committed [to Linux]," Mickos said. "If we are not committed, than any one of you can take the MySQL code and fork it to make a new MySQL product, which I am sure you would do" if Sun tried to converts LAMP to SAMP.

Mickos was peppered with questions from the Linux crowd. "What is Sun's Linux strategy? What degree of freedom will the MySQL group have inside of Sun?"

"There's a realization inside of Sun that the days of the monoliths are over, but the Web continues to grow." Sun wants to participate in that growth, not by sticking to Sun-only technologies, but by offering a smorgasbord of choices to its customers, including a core set of Java/Solaris/Sparc technologies.

Amen. If Sun can get this right - if it can make choice a marrow-deep belief throughout its massive organization - then it's very possible that Sun can lead the market again. It's a big "If" today, but I like to see open-source advocates like Red Hat and Sun leading the software industry, rather than the proprietary dinosaurs of yore.

Tech Culture
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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