J1Ahh, as I kick back after another week, I wanted to reflect on the great event of JavaOne. Already wrote about the big GlassFish news, and JBI continuing seems to be a once a year announcement (the great luxury of being an outside observer, is to do what so many young Java developers do when it comes to project initiatives, and that is to generalize). So what big news is there to discuss, well it's an area that I never thought would be broached by my writings, but I need to remove any historical bias and state what is the next most logical move for Sun. It has been a long time coming, as the last four years have seemed like a decade (n'est pas?), but for many reasons that I will now outline, I have come to a conclusion about future direction. One reason is the most obvious: MSFT. After a decade of vitriolity, Microsoft is now a showcase representative at the great show. What does this mean? Well, to Netscape people, this means the next logical extension of web services influence in to the hearts and talents of the Java community. How soon we forget how close the Netscape middleware stack came from supplanting MSFT in the Internet infrastructure war. Now because I joined the S-N Alliance the same month that NAS 4.0 was released, I know that it had a major impact on the launch of J2EE, as iPlanet Application Server 6.0 was the first J2EE shipping product:
Marc and BEA will say how it was either irrelevant or not surprising that Sun pulled it off as the first, but remember guys who pays the bills, its that little logo that I got through legal in May of 2000, so ante up if you want to talk about size. Back to the discussion today, I believe in an interoperable world with .net, but I am not sure it should come at any cost, including membership in to the Java community. Secondly, the world of enterprise computing has moved dramatically away from the hardware specs. that have defined Sun and the analysts are right that what is going to define Sun is a software infrastructure that is only now being assembled. SeeBeyond is a step, JBI is a step, Glass Fish is a step, and the Sun DB (read: Clustra) is the next logical step to bring this to a competitive level. And I am not wholly critical of StorageTek acquisition, I think it was an interesting move for financial stability, and to theoretically integrate in to a cohesive solution for selling in to storage accounts, whether or not it will ever integrate with Pirus or other virtualiuzation efforts is a different blog. (the best thing about blogging as opposed to writing in Word, is you don't have to be told that your sentence is too long without a suggestion as to how to make it shorter - - damn that is so condescending; I know, I know, i need StarOffice though that probably does it as well, and the corporate world just isn't there yet) Initiatives abound at Sun, very little is actually being accomplished.
I guess what I feel is that the best positioned company in the industry continues to make incremental progress. After years of over-hype, there is now under-hype, and that impacts the bottom-line of a lot of outlets that count on the resources that Sun brings to the market for selling solutions. The current focus on data center sales ignores the realities that all other IT firms have embraced, and allows a company with no expertise, like Dell, in to a possible winning market at the expense of the developers. Nothing was done at JavaOne that made the Java community any better off, maybe there was PR for Sun, but there was not an initiative that brings direct benefit to the developers. I want to see a force that will open up business for the developers, like commercializing java.net or creating a venture fund for Java web services applications, anything would be better than the ONE campaign for human digitalness. I guess what I am finally coming to is that the company is adrift, in some similar way to how the U.S. policy in the Middle East is adrift. It seems good on paper, but is just not working out in practice. Why is this?
Well, there are a lot of ways to look at it. The side that, for example, GWB comes down on is the glass half-full side, where Sun is starting to make money and has stopped the bleeding, but is no where near a growth strategy. The side that I look at is that something is amiss, there is something very wrong with the company's direction. Not least because it has some of the greatest assets, no let me re-phrase that, the greatest assets in the business world, and nothing to show for it, other than the constantly upticking of new developer adoption figures: 4.5 million strong as of this week. I want a company that will go beyond what is feasible and go after what is bigger than that. Too many people are invested in Sun to see it become another mid-tier company in the Gartner quadrant analysis - - it should be dominating every category whether or not Gartner is irrelevant. Gartner should be made irrelevant because Sun dominates the IT categories (I'm so sick of Liberty, N1, Open Solaris, and AS, EE being merely skunk work projects), and so there is no need for the quadrants. Instead, it is behind in every single category, and claiming that the problem is Global Services. The problem is under-delivery. Almost every single project on the Sun agenda is Red. There is an execution problem that is fundamentally affecting the entire IT industry. WebSphere is behind schedule because it does not have a direct competitor (no, BEA the world does not come down to app. servers, though when it does, you lose to JBoss anyway); Oracle can name middleware Fusion, and not be called out on it; Microsoft can bury Hailstorm because there is no Java competitor to make them compete. The bottom-line is that it is time for a change. The ultimate decision is for the Sun board to decide on what the next step should be. As a long-time admirer of the man, as a believer in the vision, and as an adament supporter of his status in the Silicon Valley lore, I think the time has come....for, Mr. McNealy to step down...