We had a small discussion about Sun at work today. Seems people at work are convinced that Sun is going down. The argument is that Sun has locked itself in a proprietary corner and is unable to see that the market is heading the opposite direction.
Personally I am not so sure, but I do agree that Sun needs to do something to get back on track, and that none of the options they have available can be considered easy.
I mean Sun has lots of good things going for them, question is if they can convert it into something they can earn money on.
For instance Sun do have a strong stack on the desktop with their Java desktop, SunRay technology and StarOffice they could become a big player in the Linux desktop space. Question however is if that market will come quick enough and if the competitive situation will let a big company like Sun earn enough per unit. If they provided SunRay for Linux servers I think it could be a winner thinclient product, but I do think they will let themselves be locked into some sort of Solaris & Sparc loyalty program to let that happen.
On the CPU side, well they do have a ton of good CPU engineers, but the question is if they are able to get something usefull out of it. Having SPARC keep up with Intel
CPU’s isn’t enough. If SPARC is to have a future then SPARC needs to outperform Intel CPU’s with a great margin, yet the price needs to be cheaper, meaning I could buy a SPARC with double the performance of an Intel CPU for the same ammount of money. Not sure Sun will be able to do that. An alternative would be for Sun to buy/merge with AMD and use their SPARC technologies to make a killer IA64 CPU with AMD. But I am not sure how technologically feasible this is.
When it comes to server sales in general I am not sure what to say. For instance their latest effort to evangelize Solaris on Intel is doomed to fail. When a market behemot like Microsoft is unable to keep linux at bay, then no way a niche player (like Sun is on Intel) will be able to.