Sun continues great software giveway

Free, as in you pay for services


Sun Microsystems is giving away more software in another stab at building a "volume" business based on commanding market share among developers.

Software developers can now download unsupported copies of Sun's Java Enterprise System (JES), SeeBeyond integration suite, C, C++ and Fortran tools, and N1 grid engine and systems management software, which are also being integrated with Solaris to create the Solaris Enterprise System (SES).

Sun is sacrificing revenue from both licensing of products like SeeBeyond and more than $100m in subscriptions derived from JES for income from services.

Sun believes it can offset this with revenue from a raft of planned services, which will be charged on a per-user and per-hourly basis. Sun, though, was vague about what services it would offer - hinting some are already available internally while others could cover indemnification, warranty and bug fixes.

Additionally, Sun re-committed itself to open sourcing its entire software portfolio - a pledge it has been making for more than a year and slowly delivering. Sun believes it can build a volume market among developers for its software tools and runtimes, which it can then monetize at a later stage. This strategy, however, has not realized much success with Sun's past efforts to give away its application server and other pieces of middleware.

Among software to be open sourced will SeeBeyond's Integrated Composite Applications Network (ICAN), bought by Sun this summer. Sun, though, said it has yet to work thorough the licensing details, and refused to put a date on its release.

Sun's chief operating officer and president Jonathan Schwartz claimed Sun's decision to eliminate the initial purchase price would help change the market for services by appealing to developers who traditionally lack purchasing power. By charging for services, Sun hopes to woo users who run its software in mission-critical environments and want a support contract with their software.

"Free certainly lowers the barrier to entry for acquiring a product. Free has been combined with open source, with Linux and Solaris to transform the economics of the market place and technology landscape," Schwartz said.

Focusing on Sun's news, Schwartz said: "Developers don't buy things, they join things... first and foremost we want to build developer volume, then we convert that volume into datacenter customers who won't run free products without support."

Sun has been wrestling with licensing and the concept of "volume" markets for years. While many inside Sun will feel Wednesday's news contributes to its strategy of "sharing", the reality is Sun is still looking for effective, long-term ways to grow software licensing and increase its share of the tools and middleware markets. In short, "sharing" has done little to boost revenue.

[Isn't it odd that a for-profit company code-named this software giveaway Red October? Is this Russia? This isn't Russia, Danny - Ed.]

Sun's move to subscription-based pricing with JES was considered an innovative move, and Sun has made slow but steady progress in convincing customers to switch. Sun has signed up a number of customers to JES, who it charged $140 per employee per year. Less than two years into subscriptions, though, Sun is changing the game plan and dedicating itself to services.

The decision to "give away" its entire software portfolio to grow market share is also predicated on rather weak foundations. Sun made its Java application server free two years ago in a move that has yet to translate into a volume market for Sun. ®


Other stories you might like

  • FTC urged to protect data privacy of women visiting abortion clinics
    As Supreme Court set to overturn Roe v Wade, safeguards on location info now more vital than ever

    Democrat senators have urged America's Federal Trade Commission to do something to protect the privacy of women after it emerged details of visits to abortion clinics were being sold by data brokers.

    Women's healthcare is an especially thorny issue right now after the Supreme Court voted in a leaked draft majority opinion to overturn Roe v Wade, a landmark ruling that declared women's rights to have an abortion are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.

    If the nation's top judges indeed vote to strike down that 1973 decision, individual states, at least, can set their own laws governing women's reproductive rights. Thirteen states already have so-called "trigger laws" in place prohibiting abortions – mostly with exceptions in certain conditions, such as if the pregnancy or childbirth endangers the mother's life – that will go into effect if Roe v Wade is torn up. People living in those states would, in theory, have to travel to another state where abortion is legal to carry out the procedure lawfully, although laws are also planned to ban that.

    Continue reading
  • Zuckerberg sued for alleged role in Cambridge Analytica data-slurp scandal
    I can prove CEO was 'personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect privacy', DC AG insists

    Cambridge Analytica is back to haunt Mark Zuckerberg: Washington DC's Attorney General filed a lawsuit today directly accusing the Meta CEO of personal involvement in the abuses that led to the data-slurping scandal. 

    DC AG Karl Racine filed [PDF] the civil suit on Monday morning, saying his office's investigations found ample evidence Zuck could be held responsible for that 2018 cluster-fsck. For those who've put it out of mind, UK-based Cambridge Analytica harvested tens of millions of people's info via a third-party Facebook app, revealing a – at best – somewhat slipshod handling of netizens' privacy by the US tech giant.

    That year, Racine sued Facebook, claiming the social network was well aware of the analytics firm's antics yet failed to do anything meaningful until the data harvesting was covered by mainstream media. Facebook repeatedly stymied document production attempts, Racine claimed, and the paperwork it eventually handed over painted a trail he said led directly to Zuck. 

    Continue reading
  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022