Effects of the Slowing Economy

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-04-16 Print this article Print


How is a slowing economy affecting the company?

Schwartz: A slowing economy is great for free software. It's fabulous. Look, if your No. 1 driver of cost in your data center is proprietary software, the fact that you pick up MySQL simply by picking it up and putting the MySQL coffee mug on your desk, you could save $15 million or $25 million. That's what we're seeing across the world.

I was with the CIO of a very traditional financial institution recently. At the end of our meeting, I said, "By the way, we've just announced the closing of our acquisition of MySQL." The CIO looked at me, and she said, "Well, that's nice, but we really don't use MySQL here. We're a proprietary software shop." A very eager Sun sales rep was with me who had checked in with his buddy at MySQL and found out that this organization had downloaded MySQL 1,300 times in the last six months.

[The CIO] was stunned by that. A couple of their technology folks who were also there said, "Actually, it's the No. 1 database all of us use. It's just that we don't have a commercial license because we've been told we're a proprietary vendor shop."

So now we're in the midst of negotiating a license, and they'll wind up saving, like everybody else, $5 million or $10 million. And that, in a slowing economy, is a very helpful thing.

Are the old-school, institutional enterprise companies generally beginning to see the value of open-source software?

Green: It varies, but it always has the same ending. It's very funny. Last year we had a Sun Tech Day in St. Petersburg [Russia]. We had the event in a hockey stadium, the biggest place we could find. So I asked the audience, "How many of you are using MySQL open source?" About three-quarters or 90 percent of the people's hands went up. Remarkable! This is pretty far away, and it was a classic case of the overall adoption of open-source technology.

MySQL's CEO calls it the Ferrari of databases. Read more here.

Wherever you go, it's [open source] in wide use. Like the years-ago growth of Linux or Windows, this is a bottoms-up trend that is unstoppable.

This [open source] is about unfettered access to technologies, the contributions of communities, and development by the masses that ensures the most capable, the most useful and the most secure platforms because it undergoes the scrutiny of the largest collection of eyeballs in the world.

What is Sun's strategy for selling the development of cloud computing?

Green: Sun is in a unique position as a neutral party to provide a great cloud computing platform for developers. Our view is that we have a series of open-source technologies, in NetBeans and others, that have already been extended to provide cloud computing interfaces. There are already extensions in NetBeans that allow you to direct your development efforts to deploy on the network dot-com cloud.

What we did a few years ago is that we took NetBeans and we said, "This is a great developer environment; let's don't limit it to Java." Since then, Ruby, JRuby and now JavaScript 6.1 are radically amplifying the number of users we have. Then to be able to say to them, "Deploy to Network Dot-Com using that same tool base" is a value point that Google and Amazon simply don't have. They don't have that development community or tool set that we do.

The other thing you can quickly expect to see from us, given the acquisition, is hosted MySQL services, which is an obvious and incredibly valuable platform, as we now have MySQL employees working under our roof. Who better but Sun, with that brand affiliation and expertise, to provide that as a database cloud platform? It's a high priority and is already under way. You'll be hearing a lot about that soon.

There's very little support for cloud computing right now. But imagine the possibilities of millions of NetBeans users, sitting in front of a development environment on a laptop that just has a deploy button. It conjures up all the working components, delivers it to your working space, and deals with either free or micropayment functionality, deals with the security interfaces, and does it out of the deploy button. No one but Sun can do that right now. That's where we're headed.

Schwartz: The cloud that I probably have the most respect for right now is the Amazon cloud. I think they've done a wonderful job of actually understanding what cloud services are, which is, you build a running operating platform, you give it to them, they provision infrastructure for you, and then you can run it. And you're not tied to Amazon, so the day somebody else comes in and says, "I have a cheaper provisioning solution for you" or "I have a better reliability meter for you," you can feel free to move.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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