| View from the Hill: -
Is it time to Resurrect Sun User Groups?
Is it time to
resurrect the concept of Sun User Groups?
In the early 90s when Sun was
a small but hot technology company, SUGs sprang up in almost every state and
country that Sun workstations and servers were used. They provided useful
information about a niche technology to dedicated enthusiasts who wanted to know
how to support their systems better.
The 1996 version of the SPARC
Product Directory had
dozens of these organizations. But the writing was already on the wall for SUGs
by 1997 as I could see in the dwindling pageviews for this subject...
decided that if it wanted feedback from users it would get it in a structured
form from focus groups, market
research and analysts. Sun also decided that if anyone wanted to know about
Sun's future direction they could get this information, unpolluted by
interpretation, direct from www.sun.com. So it was goodbye to intermediaries who
didn't wear suits or who weren't part of the dotcom generation.
97, the US SUG went bankrupt, and Sun pulled its funding and support for
SUGs in Europe. Some independent groups carried on for a year or so, but if you
rely on photosysnthesis for life then you can't survive withdrawel from the sun
As I write this in June 2003, there are a number of reasons
why Sun should reconsider the idea of supporting and promoting user groups.
- Sun's SPARC and Solaris are niche technologies, in islands of Windows and
Linux, and have lost the glitz of former years. Less than 10% of systems
administrators are familiar with Sun technology, and budgets for training and
attending conferences are tight, so there's a need for the type of specialised
low cost support that user groups can provide.
You don't have to wait
another year or so for Sun to get this message. If you run a Sun User Group send
email with details of
where you are, what you do and your web site, and I'll list them. Lets put the "User"
back into the driving seat of SUGs.
- I assume that Sun's budgets for market research and focus groups are half
what they used to be when Sun was a bigger company. Maybe even less. SUGs
provide a low cost marketing solution which can't easily be ignored.
nearly 3 months after this article was published, Sun did indeed launch a
special interest user group called SunSHINE aimed at the medical market.|