Moon Macrosystems - How to build a better Sun

Go ahead. Take a crack at it


The hardware is the hard part

Of course, the underlying systems have to be called the Application Software System/500, tipping their hat to the integrated minicomputer from Big Blue that was the best selling back-end system for SMBs in the world for like 15 years and that's now the inspiration for the kinds of integrated systems that many server makers are espousing but not actually building - not yet, anyway.

You can take a number of different approaches to create the ASS/500 product line. One is to go to a company like Super Micro and just take the best pre-made, whitebox systems it has to offer and put the Moon Macrosystems brand on them and be done with it. Or, you can do what Unisys does, which is to resell Dell and Sun machines (after scratching the Dell and Sun labels off) and focus on its own high-end systems (which in the x64 space are actually co-designed with NEC).

Or you could get even more clever and do a deal with Avnet or Arrow Electronics, the two master resellers of servers in the world, and work to certify the Lunaris stack on a collection of key servers made by IBM, HP, and Dell and co-brand these machines with the Moon Macrosystems and Lunaris logos and get the hell out of the low-margin, high-grief hardware business entirely. And if customers want Sparc-based machines, do what Sun did: Cut a deal with Fujitsu. Trust me, the company needs money and if you can sell a box, Fujitsu will give it to you for a cut of the action.

One thing is for sure: Moon Macrosystems can't afford to do Sparc processor and system development, but you might be able to buy motherboards from Oracle or Fujitsu. And with IBM buying Transitive's QuickTransit emulation, you can't run Sparc code in emulation mode on x64 gear without an equivalent product or a license to QuickTransit from IBM.

But stop thinking of Moon Macrosystems as a server vendor. At first, think of it like Red Hat, with a precise set of configured systems on which it is installed and partnerships. If customers want Solaris, they surely want it pre-installed and certified on their existing x64 server platforms, not on Sun's "Galaxy" servers - as Sun's own tepid x64 shipments show. (Sun was kicking out some 30,000 x64 servers a quarter, which is a drop in the bucket. Today's total market boasts 2 million or so servers a quarter, most of them being x64 boxes).

That is a short-term hardware plan, just to get going. In the long run, Moon Macrosystems has to offer some kind of differentiation on hardware, assuming that the idea of integrated hardware-software systems or enterprise appliances or whatever you want to call them is real. The important thing about the hardware, the real ASS/500 system, is that it be integrated, like Cisco is doing with the California box in terms of system and storage networking using Fibre Channel over Ethernet for storage. (But Cisco forgot the storage.) Or like HP's Matrix blade platform, which is missing the Fibre Channel over Ethernet.

Moon Macrosystems could just use the Xsigo I/O virtualization appliance and Super Micro whiteboxes and just get around the whole issue. This is Dell's backup plan, and it has the virtue of working on both rack and blade servers. IBM and HP have not done much in terms of virtualizing I/O for rack servers, unless they are Power-based machines in the case of IBM or Itanium-based machines in the case of HP.

You wanna server to chase volumes with Lunaris? You want to be in SMB accounts like HP, Dell, and IBM. Then you need tower servers and blade servers that run on normal wall power. Don't screw this up like Sun has for the past decade.

Now, a brief note about marketing. I think some Moon Macrosystems tattoos placed on celebrity booties would probably do the trick as a publicity stunt. I am thinking JLo for the boys and Hugh Jackman for the girls as a good start. Let the marketing hang out there, people. Just don't talk about being the dot in dot-com, or the Web in Web 2.0 or go on and on about open network systems or some other nonsense. Help people save their asses in this awful economy, and they will help you save your own. All you gotta do to start is find your own with both hands.

One last thing. If by some miracle this actually makes money, save it. Don't ever go public and don't ever let the private equity companies take control. Be happy running a business, employing people, and serving customers. Let that be your reward. All the rest is vapordough anyway. ®


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