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View from the Hill

Should Sun Rename All its Products in Line with the New Reorganization Thinking?

May 2002 article by Zsolt Kerekes
See also:- article:- Sun and the SPARC OEMs - State of the Market Report (2005)
article:- Sun, SPARC and Solaris Highlights and Lowlights in 2004
article:- Surviving the Solaris x86 Wars
View from the Hill - Looking Back at 3rd Party SPARC Technology Firsts
Squeak! - The Top 10 Storage Software Companies
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article:- Marketing Nomenclature, and the Naming of Names
more articles, SPARC News, STORAGE News, Market research, SPARC History
Zsolt Kerekes - Publisher
Zsolt Kerekes is editor and publisher
of the SPARC Product Directory and

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Sun Microsystems has recently come out of deep-thought mode and made sweeping changes to a whole bunch of things. In case you've missed them, here's a quick summary:

  • Sun has renamed most of its forgetable software products. So all those applications you couldn't remember before are now called "Sun" plus "something". Remembering half the name is better than remembering none. But wait a minute! Solaris, which was previously called SunOS, is still called Solaris. Now there's a flaw in the naming convention which no one else seems to have spotted yet.
  • Sun Microsystems has started up a marketing organization. Most start-ups have one in place before they do their IPO, but this is a sign of maturity in the 20 year old Sun, that it can learn from benchmarking the best practise of other organizations. I think some management consultants may have been involved here, possibly the clever ones which split off from Anderson and became called something with an accent which I can't reproduce on this keyboard, long before the Enron fiasco made it an even better idea.

Now, 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, while Dell is still drooling about taking over Compaq's PC and server business, and while HP does a deja vu in acquisition a la HP acquiring Apollo, and Compaq acquiring DEC. (There's a lot of foreign words in there, but I'm sure you take my point, and we do have some European readers who we want to feel comfortable here.) The strategic ideas below are not in any particular order, and are freely contributed in the spirit of open source/ open systems to be used whenever the circumstances seem appropriate / desperate.

  • Good idea #1 - rename all the "SPARC chips" to "Sun chips". So the "UltraSPARC 4" would become the "SunCPU 1". That will make it easier for all your younger customers whose memories don't stretch back far enough into all that exciting SPARC stuff in the 1980's. It will also be compatible with all the new "Sun" plus "something else" naming conventions.

    Now I realise there is a small problem here, because other companies, most notably Fujitsu also make SPARC chips, and they may cry "foul". But let's be honest, they also do a lot of that "Intel Inside" stuff. So they aren't as totally committed to the Sun success idea as Sun itself. But I've thought of a way around this problem as well. In the spirit of complete and utter equality, you can agree to let them call their chips, the "FujitsuCPU" family. No one could object to that, could they? And it will be a lot clearer for all end-users... Now there is a slight flaw with this plan if we look at Sun's other idea of expanding into the Intel Server market. I forgot to mention that one above, but it is true. I didn't make it up. The grit in the ointment here is that I don't think Intel will agree to Sun renaming its Pentium processors, just because they happen to be operating inside a Sun server. But that's where "thinking outside the box" becomes important.

    Sun could market the new Intel based servers as "Sun Outside."

    Eureka! I don't claim any royalty fees for that idea either.
  • Good idea #2 - concerns another software product which again seems to have missed the first round of software renaming, and we all know I'm talking about that coffee stuff. Now I've never been a great fan of Java, partly because the hype in the early days seemed to go a little bit too far when Sun's dumb terminal was named the JavaStation. Let's just admit that I was wrong, a lot of people do actually use Java, but actually on PCs. The dumb terminal idea was just, well, dumb... The problem with Java is that Sun doesn't get enough credit for the idea. So let's just rename "Java" to "Sun C" or Sun/PL (Sun Programming Language) and start all over.
  • Good idea #3 - a long time ago Sun used to feature a dog in its ads. That made the company seem a lot more friendly and approachable. So think about introducing a new animal into all Sun's ads. But not a mouse...

    Mice have already been done.

    Otherwise people may mistakenly think that Sun is a storage company. And that would be a bad thing. The whole point of all these changes in Sun is to avoid confusing people.
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...Later:- Sun Moves into the Online Storage Market with "Sun Connection"

Editor:- May 3, 2005 - Sun Microsystems today announced new storage services as part of a roll-out of IT services which have been imaginatively named "Sun Connection".

The Sun Java StorEdge Software program is a unique way for customers to acquire and deploy Sun's comprehensive suite of storage and data management software and services in-house. Through its simple, affordable and predictable licensing model, customers are able to purchase the right bundle of Sun storage software to manage their heterogeneous environments. For the complete Java StorEdge Software package, customers can pay either $350 per employee per year, or purchase storage capacity, starting at $400,000 for five terabytes per year. Sun claims this licensing model offers customers a potential cost savings of at least 30% in comparison to typical, point-product offerings. ...Sun profile, Storage Services, online backup and storage

Editor's comments:- a recent article in the SPARC Product Directory reveals that storage is now pivotal to Sun's business, and that Sun has reversed its earlier storage strategies which I correctly predicted would fail in an article in 2000.

Sun's new strategy is to become one of the world's largest resellers of storage systems, and to leverage its position as a credible reseller of storage to the Linux market. Whether today's announced entry into the storage services market will succeed remains to be seen. But my guess is it's too closely tied to Sun's proprietary server business to be of any relevance to most users.

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