Enterprise Unix Roundup: Of Blogs and Bottom Lines

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted May 19, 2005


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Sun will miss its target date for ZFS and Janus, but its employee blogs sure are spiffy. Sys admins faced with rapidly growing and changing data storage needs will applaud the Enterprise Volume Management System.

Amy Newman
Michael Hall

Unless you're measuring corporate success by total pages blogged, it's been a rough week for Sun.

First, as we were going to press last week, the systems vendor said in an online chat that its much-anticipated 128-bit ZFS and Janus — Sun's highly touted Linux software tool designed to enable users to run both Linux and Solaris applications on the same server — will not be available for Solaris 10 until 2006. Its corporate blogging initiative, however, is in great shape.

In the words of Glenn Weinberg, vice president, Operating Platforms Group, "These features are not scheduled for specific updates at this time. Our intent is that they will be released in CY06."

Later in the chat, someone posed this question: "When will ZFS will be released officially?" Chris Ratcliffe, director of operating system marketing, took that one: "ZFS is currently in beta, feedback is very positive and we expect to deliver it in Solaris Express by the end of the year. We will deliver the final ZFS functionality in a future update to Solaris 10."

A third participant voiced the same question and was simply told it was in beta.

Clearly, the user community is waiting. While the lack of these two major components may not be slowing down Solaris downloads (as of May 4, 1.4 million and counting), it may not be translating into deployments, and that's what everyone is looking at. As we've noted in the past, John Doe downloading Solaris to build a server in his basement shouldn't count the same as Jane Smith downloading Solaris to power her Fortune 500 data center. In any matrix.

Sun's sweeping the missed targets under the rug did not go unnoticed by the competition. IBM, possibly coincidentally or more likely intentionally, took advantage of the situation by announcing a "Solaris to Linux Migration Factory" program on Tuesday.

Sun's sweeping the missed targets under the rug did not go unnoticed by the competition.

With this service comes a free, presales migration assessment from the IBM Systems and Technology Group. The assessment is designed to answer questions and provide guidance on how to best migrate to Linux, and, presumably, POWER5. Then, when an enterprise decides to migrate, a broad set of support tools and services, known as the Migration Factory is deployed.

So it's a typical migration program.

On Wednesday, Sun responded with some name calling, describing the migration initiatives as an "act of desperation" in response to the momentum behind Solaris 10.

Oookaaay.

Momentum? Two major, sought-after features delayed does not bode well for momentum. We've been following this industry long enough to know that blown deadlines, missing features, and bugs are part of the the game. But, then, so are migration programs.

We realize we're quibbling on what is essentially a communication matter, not a technical issue. And we would have probably looked the other way, but for another PR-blitzing e-mail. Sun wanted to let us know that it beat IBM to the corporate blogging punch.

While the lack of these two major components may not be slowing down Solaris downloads, it may not be translating into deployments, and that's what everyone is looking at.

IBM opened the blogosphere to its more than 300,000 employees this week, a full year after Sun. Sun currently claims 1,500 bloggers, including oft-quoted Sun President and COO Jonathan Schwartz. His blog, which was started in June 2004, currently receives approximately 175,000 readers per month.

That's nice, we say, but so what? Call corporate blogs what you will, but at their core they are just another marketing vehicle. The COO doesn't (or at least shouldn't) spend time doing something that isn't related to bringing in revenue somewhere in the food chain. We have no doubt that Schwartz would like to turn the majority of those 175,000 readers into new or expanded customers at some point.

Blogs may be the latest and greatest, and they are gathering momentum in the marketing space, but IBM and Sun are in the business of selling systems, not marketing services. Being the first to take advantage of a marketing vehicle has a certain degree of coolness attached to it, but the more important question is, is it effective.

Does it sell systems? Maybe, down the road. But even without seeing the stats, we suspect migration programs and delivering promised features sets on time are more effective.

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