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SPARC Product Directory - since 1992
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articles about Sun, SPARC & Solaris - the View from the Hill series etc

Need to know more about the past, present and future of the SPARC systems market?

These independent articles will help you.

Since 1992 the SPARC Product Directory has been a strategic source of SPARC market information. Whether you're a VP of marketing in Sun, a journalist researching another story about Sun, a VAR, or a user who wants to know more than the marketing hype or ill informed comment that comes from market research companies who haven't studied this fascinating market for more than 30 seconds, I hope you'll find these archived articles useful.

Zsolt Kerekes - Publisher
Zsolt Kerekes has been editor and
publisher of the SPARC Directory
since 1992. Zsolt is also editor of
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Note:- the articles below are listed in reverse date order - newest first. These articles were first published in SPARC news .
Predicting the Next 3 Years in the SPARC Server Market - (2007 to 2009)

Looks at the market opportunities and competitive threats to SPARC server growth in the next 3 years.
Revisiting One of SPARC's Old Flames

Looking back at a decade of the Sun On-Line! Detective
Joining the Dots in OpenSPARC

An exclusive interview with SPARC International about the marketing and branding aspects of OpenSPARC.
Sun, SPARC and Solaris Highlights and Lowlights in 2005

End of year market review.
Has Infiniband Established Itself in the Market?

Looks at the state of the Infiniband market at the end of 2005.
Why are Most Analysts Wrong About Solid State Disks?

The #1 industry report on emerging markets and applications for solid state disks.
Are Serial Attached SCSI Drives Science Fiction for Most Sun Users?

SAS drives are appearing in new Sun servers, but what's the state of the SAS user upgrade market?
the 10 biggest storage companies in 2008?

Sun will be one of them, says the 5th annual edition of this popular article.
2005 Market Report on Sun Compatible OEMs

History, trends and prospects for independent hardware vendors in the Sun market.
Sun, SPARC and Solaris Highlights and Lowlights in 2004

See market developments, the top news stories and predictions for 2005 in this end of year review.
Surviving the Solaris x86 Wars

The phoney war for Solaris x86 is over. It lasted 18 years and Sun retreated 3 times. The real marketing war will take place in 2005.
A Bridge Too Far? - Linux Apps on Solaris 10

Reading the runes on Sun's Linux Solaris future.
SPARC Trivia Quiz

Test your knowledge of Sun's technologies and marketing strategies.
Sun Under Fire - for Mal Maintenance Policies

Sun's policy regarding Maintenance Acceptability Level is Mal (Bad) for users according to this article by ASCDI.
Sun Under Fire - for Used Sun Market Policies

Sun fixes its prices on Solaris to reduce competition in the sales of its used servers according to this article by ASCDI.
Fujits...Who? - A Primer on Fujitsu's SPARC Heritage

SPARC users now have to look to Fujitsu, and not Sun, as the spring from which faster SPARC chips and servers will flow. Fujitsu is a company you may not know much about. This independent article provides a history of Fujitsu's main contributions and milestones in the SPARC market.
Why Sun Should Acquire a Solid State Disk Company ASAP

The Need is Strong, the Upside Potential is Huge
First Signs of Sun SPARC Market Recovery

The SPARC recovery is lagging the rest of the market, but there are signs it's already happening.
How Many SPARC Processors Deployed in Servers?

It's a lot more than you might think.
Hardware Upgrades to Make Your Sun SPARC Server Go Faster

You don't have to wait for Sun Microsystems to bring out faster SPARC processors to get faster performance from your SPARC/Solaris applications. And you don't have to pay exorbitant prices either.
the New Solaris Migration? - migrating away from Sun's OS

Series of articles by the publisher and major computer vendors.
Are Sun's Days Numbered

How long will SPARC competitively available?
What's the Trigger Event that will Turn Around Sun's Revenue Decline?

There is a product announcement which will signal a positive change in Sun's fortunes. Why don't they just do it?
the Top #10 SPARC Manufacturers - 2003

This popular annual feature was published July 21, 2003.
Should Sun, Apple and Red Hat form an anti Microsoft Marketing Alliance?

The US government has tried it and failed. It's time for market forces to tackle this job.
Is it time to Resurrect Sun User Groups?

In the early 90s SUGs were popular. Then at the start of the web age Sun decided it could do without them. As a downsized company in 2003 with much reduced marketing muscle and weaker gravity, Sun should probably look again at this low cost way of keeping its SPARC server architecture alive and understood.
Recovering Your Sun Hosted Business from Administrator Induced Data Loss

The article, written by Ron Austin at ActionFront Data Recovery describes the true story of how one company which ran their business on a Sun server, hit a crisis when their administrator accidentally wiped their live data and their disk to disk backup.

Although the customer had support contracts in place, none of the suppliers of the constituent parts (Sun Microsystems, EMC, Veritas and Oracle) were able to help them. This is a cautionary tale of what can so easily go wrong, and what the customer did to avoid going out of business.
Remember these Pre Millenium SPARC Banner Ads?

Print ads can easily last 100 years, but banner ads on the web usually disappear without trace after a few months. That makes it hard to understand how markets which are influenced by the web medium developed.
Why Sun's Server Revenue will Decline Again Next Year (and HP's and IBM's too)

The recent recession has speeded up the unbundling (or dismembering) of the server market.
The Trouble with Blades

That new blade looks good, sounds good. But will it stop your system working?
How's that relationship between your strategic IT supplier and their bank going?

Are they still talking? Do they still hold hands?
Celebrating the Work of the Independent Sun VARs

One of the most important roles of the Independent Sun VARs has been to increase price competition within the Sun user base. As a buyer you benefit from that influence even if your order goes to an official Sun VAR. The official Sun VARs are looking over their shoulder all the time to see what's happening in the "gray" market.
Why Sun's Fortunes will Look a Lot Brighter in 2003

I'm starting the New Year with a more positive outlook on the prospects for Sun's SPARC server business. Methinks that Sun's revenue will grow and that Sun is going to look smarter than its main competitors (again).
Everyone's bashing Sun. So will SPARC survive?

It's become fashionable to knock Sun in the financial press, and even Business Week this week dedicated a long article to Sun bashing called "Will Sun Rise Again?" which includes another scary quote from Scott McNealy in which he says "...A computer is not a commodity." If you still had any doubts about the thinking that's now driving Sun, that might make you more worried. But let's do a reality check here.. It was only a sound bite to a journalist. If you look back at Sun's history, their past success owes much to commoditizing products.
No longer the Dot in dotcom, Sun Grapples to Find a Credible New Positioning Statement

Since the eclipse of the Sun last year, analysts and the stock market have discovered that they can now look at Sun Microsystems without being dazzled by its marketing hype. When you've got a company whose outlook has changed from being an $18 Billion revenue with double digit growth, sliding towards a $10 Billion company with the prospect of double digit shrinkage, and a share price which has fared worse than many of its main competitors people are bound to ask questions. Increasingly they're getting less impressed by the lack of vision coming out from the company. In an effort to meet some of that criticism, Sun's CEO - Scott McNealy - appears to be testing out a new positioning statement.
Return of the SPARCbook

When you've been editing a directory like this one for more than ten years, you come across a lot of brands and jargon, some of which stay in fashion for a while, but most of which get gradually forgotten. So it was with great interest, and a sense of déja vu, that I came across a press release from Tadpole recently about their new SPARCbook 5000.
A Better Windows than Windows... A Better Linux than Linux?

For some quirky reason Sun Microsystems' launch of their Linux for Intel architecture systems at LinuxWorld in mid August (2002), put me in mind of IBM's marketing push to get their OS/2 into PC's back in the mid 1990's, long after everyone in the PC world realised that the PC OS race was already over, and had been won by Microsoft.
Sun Users Waiting for Fujitsu? - meanwhile Microsoft aims to cut off Sun's oxygen supply

In the Wintel world whenever Intel is a bit slow in bringing out a new faster processor, manufacturers of PCs and servers don't worry, because they know that arch rival AMD is waiting in the wings and will soon come up with such a solution. That competitive pressure keeps the performance curve leaning into the wind. The same used to be true in the world of SPARC processors...
Top #10 Most Important SPARC Systems Companies

based on a sample size of over 125,000 SPARC Product Directory readers in Q2 2002
How Long Can Sun Stand the Heat in the Server Benchmark Wars?

This summer (2002) the pressure from Sun's competitors will start to mount, as long as Sun is still saddled with its one year old vintage 900MHz processors (and low volume selected 1,050MHz variants). Although the processor benchmark wars have been a regular event throughout SPARC's 15 year history, Sun's economic and technical woes last year caused it to slip behind its main competitors with an interim processor which was far below the expectations predicted by Moore's law. Although Sun has publicly stated that it continued investments into new chip designs, its economics are vastly different here to rival Intel, which despite the recession in the PC market, is planning around a market estimated to be as large as another one billion PCs during the next 6 years. That allows Intel to get a payback on interim clock speed products much earlier than Sun.
Should Sun Rename All its Products in Line with the New Reorganization Thinking?

Sun Microsystems has recently come out of deep-thought mode and made sweeping changes to a whole bunch of things.... I know that many influential people in Sun, read the SPARC Product Directory, and look for new business ideas in these columns. So here are a few free suggestions guys and gals for the next few steps to take....
Looking Back at 3rd Party SPARC Technology Firsts

The introduction of the SPARCblade™ by Continuous Computing, started me reflecting generally on the history of 3rd party innovations in the SPARC systems market. One of the benefits which Sun has received from opening up SPARC technology, is that other SPARC companies have pioneered new ways of using it, and brought better solutions to users faster, than if you had to wait for Sun. Here are some examples.
Unsafe At Any Speed?

Looking under the hood at Sun's recent server engine problems Sun's cache memory problem:- What did Sun know? When did Sun know it? And what did Sun do about it? - a critical commentary - by Peter Baston.
The Emerging Bright Spots in the Sun Compatible SPARC Systems Market

2001 was the worst year in Sun's 20 year history. The combination of the IT recession, 9/11, and Sun's shooting itself in the foot with technical problems in its cache memory (thereby blowing away its hard won reliability image advantage over Wintel) and the slowness of developing faster SPARC processors could leave you with the false impression that all was doom and gloom in the SPARC systems market. Not so.
...and Then There was One. The Rise and Fall of the SPARC Workstation Market

It now seems likely that the year 2000 represented the peak of the desktop SPARC workstation market, which started in 1989 with the launch of the SPARCstation 1. And I predict that, by the end of 2003, there will be only one supplier of desktop SPARC workstations left to service a market that's already declined significantly in revenue as a result of the recession in 2001, and the overlap in capability between Unix workstations and dekstop PCs. And there are no prizes for guessing that will be Sun Microsystems. The workstation market has outlasted its usefulness, but it's interesting to see where it's been.
Looking Back on Sun's Cache Memory Problem

Throughout most of this year (2001) Sun's reputation for hardware reliability was plagued by random faults in some of their cache memory products. These problems caused a loss of confidence in Sun's core competence as a vendor of reliable trouble free servers.
Goodbye Sun! Hello New Employer!

A market research based Jobseekers Guide for Sun employees concerned about the 4,000 job losses anounced October 5, 2001
How Sun Got Burned... What should Sun do now?

October 5, 2001 the messages start coming out from Sun Microsystems. Quarterly revenue will be 38% below the number for last year, 4,000 jobs will be shed to reduce costs and get back into profitability. We've been hearing messages like this all year from other computer computer companies. But Sun's revenue decline is worse than most of its leading competitors. And the climb back up the hill will be harder. Did it have to be so bad?
Re: Crossroads Systems Wins Patent Infringment Lawsuit Against Chaparral Network Storage

In a recession, your competitors can become a useful source of additional revenue from technology licenses, and if that fails, from court judgments. The network storage market has now gotten big enough so that you can afford to hire lawyers to pursue a case, and still have a worthwhile amount left after you've paid their fees.
Diary of a Workaholic Sun Partners Program Manager During the Week of Sun's Shutdown

Monday, July 2, 2001 - (day #1 of shutdown) - got into work 15 minutes late this morning. Can't understand it. Cars everywhere. Assume other drivers haven't heard about Sun shutdown. But when I get into office, it's empty. Have decided this week to concentrate on outgoing activities with partners and potential allies in new marketing programs. Waste several hours emailing technical support, and eventually learn how to access incoming voicemail. Get error message:- buffer full. Spend rest of day dealing with email, as usual.
Re: Compaq's proposed merger with HP

The September 3, 2001 press release, announcing the agreement to merge of two of the world's top 10 storage companies continues the trend of mergers and acquisitions we've been seeing in this market all year. You're going to hear a lot about synergy and the complementary roles of these two organisations and their product lines, from their marketing departments. My view is that both these companies were in trouble before the recession kicked in.
Things to do during an eclipse of the Sun

In the SPARC systems market you could say we're in the Renaissance, where most people are quite comfortable with the idea that everything revolves around Sun Microsystems. So Sun's planned shut-down of operations during the first week in July, as a cost cutting measure designed to save jobs, could be the first time that people in this market get a chance to see other companies which are usually outshone by the strength of Sun's powerful marketing machine. Just as the solar system would be a pretty dull place if you took away the planets, comets, and other stuff swirling around the center or the photons and other particles which are passing through, the same can be said of the markets for compatible products which revolve around Sun Microsystems.
Time for changes at the top in Sun?

I communicate with more Sun users and VARS than probably anyone else on this planet, but you don't need my privileged view of this market to know that all is not well in the Sun market.
Why Did Sun's Revenue Growth Hit a Brick Wall?

On April 19, 2001 - Sun Microsystems, Inc., (NASDAQ: SUNW) reported results for the third quarter of fiscal year 2001, which ended April 1, 2001. Revenues for the third quarter were $4.095 billion, up 2 percent compared with the third quarter of fiscal 2000. That's one of the worst revenue growth results that Sun has reported for years. I think there's more to this than just the recession. Sun is losing focus.
Tadpole Technology Acquires Cycle Computer - consequences?

On November 22, 2000 a press release to this effect appeared on Tadpole's site. I discuss what this could mean for the SPARC market?
Will Sun Succeed in the STORAGE market? - part #1

Will Sun Succeed in the STORAGE market? - part #2

They didn't. These popular articles analyzed the flaws in Sun's storage business strategy before they wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on futile acquisitions.
Why are most Sun resellers invisible on the web?

Is it because they think that web technology is something which is only good for their customers? Or are they useless at marketing?
For large systems, Solaris on SPARC will continue to be a better choice than NT for many years.

These are the real reasons why... The reliability of an operating system tends to increase with age.
Should Sun Microsystems make its own brand of "Intel Inside®" PC's?

Sun could become a successful PC supplier a lot more easily than you might think... (1999)
Sun Microsystems needs Intel and Microsoft to be successful to fuel the insatiable demand for SPARC servers.

Most companies above a certain size inevitably become owners of large amounts of data in relational databases. SPARC machines started out as the computer market's most cost effective database servers.
SPARC resellers - are they important? Do we really need them?

I think it's now safe to say that luck had a good part to play in Sun's successful business development. It wasn't just technology and good timing...
SPARC Systems - Previewing the 2nd Decade

First published Q3 1996, this article includes views from SPARC industry leaders about what changes they thought the next decade (1996 to 2006) would hold.
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