Second Sign

We may have encountered the second sign of the server apocalypse this week when Sun decided to ship Windows on their x86 based servers.  Expect raining frogs and lakes of fire next.

Lead by the acerbic Scott McNealy, Sun had a history of whipping Microsoft … at least rhetorically.  Microsoft beat Sun senseless in the early years when Sun primarily made technical workstations.  Microsoft made Windows PCs a viable and cheaper alternative to Sun’s UNIX workstations for engineering, and sent Sun scrambling up the performance slope, making bigger and badder UNIX servers.

This may have been Sun’s original marketing mistake.  Everything commoditizes over time, including hardware.  Intel (and later AMD) commoditized the expensive part of the computer (the CPU and FPU).  It was only a matter of time before they did the same to servers.  Since Sun abandoned everything aside from top-end servers, they backed themselves into a marketing corner.  Going back to commodity servers and desktops would require capitulation and stealing market-share, which is expensive and unlikely.

A while back Sun and Microsoft publicly laid aside open hostilities, signed a nonaggression pact of sorts.  Their proposed collaborationsnever produced much aside from “thou shall not sue” covenants, and mainly kept one another from tossing more lawyers onto the fire (hmmmm, now there’s a captivating thought).

Now Sun’s capitulation is near complete.  Not only ave the conceded that Intel and AMD are the owners of the small- and mid-tier server markets (by building overpriced x86 servers) they have now agreed to bundle Windows onto these boxes at the factory.  Sun does this not because they want to, but because they are missing the enterprise preference to have “one throat to choke.”  Sun CEO and ponytail devotee Jonathan Schwartz confessed “We can do business with 100% of the marketplace now. That’s not something we could have said a few years ago.” 

That’s why the pay Jonathan the small bucks.

But it will be a little too little and a little too late.  Sun was AWOL on defending the broad set of enterprise needs, behind the curve on x86 and Linux, and their new Windows pact is little more than promises to bow to whatever stranglehold Microsoft is planning for virtualization.

That’s OK though.  Sun still has 34,000 employees they can lay off as the carnage continues.


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