The advance of open source is as inevitable as the passing of the seasons, according to Sun Microsystems.
The vendor’s chief technology evangelist, Simon Phipps, flew into Australia recently to deliver the message at a Queensland conference hosted by the vendor-neutral Distributed Systems Technology Centre (DSTC).
Phipps said the shift to open source was a societal change. Using the industrial revolution as an analogy, he suggested the open source community was an egalitarian one when compared to the feudal system of proprietorial software.
Unlike the industrial revolution, which saw skilled artisans replaced by industrial processes, Phipps said open source was akin to those industrial processes being conducted by the artisans.
Resistance was useless, he said.
“Resistance and oppositions are a means of coping with change,” Phipps said. “If people think the effects of change are undesirable then they will try to oppose it by throwing a spanner in the works. But destroying the effects doesn’t prevent the cause and resisting open source is like resisting the seasons.
“The real question is ‘If spring is coming what can we do to prepare for it?’ not ‘How can we stop spring coming?’”
Phipps accused Microsoft of using words such as ‘open’ and ‘choice’ in ways that were atypical for the average English user.
He said the software giant lacked respect for peer communities and suggested its idea of a community was a vertical ‘lord of the manor’ approach with subjects underneath, as opposed to the horizontal open source model, which fostered a sense of equality.
“Microsoft has realised that open source is a force of nature,” he said. “They’ve started using the words of open source in a way that takes away the benefits.”
In other news, Sun is promoting a ‘buy something, use everything’ model for its Java enterprise system (JES) products as it continues to wave the low-cost computing flag.
Phipps said customers could justify implementing JES on the standards-based messaging server or identity server alone, which would then give resellers a great chance to sell other services and products as a customer’s needs changed. “JES is licensed on a base price per employee,” he said. “In return, the customer gets an infinite right to use any server element anywhere in their business without a further fee.
“It’s a ‘buy something, use everything’ model that creates vast opportunities for the creative reseller to add on other products and services.”
Phipps also told ARN that helping users run Windows applications on Java desktop system (JDS) was a big opportunity for resellers in the short-term because the market was still getting up-to-speed with creating applications.
Sun distributor, Alstom IT, recently held a road show promoting the alternative desktop and server computing of the vendor’s products.
National Sun sales manager at Alstom, Danny Harwood, admitted he had been a bit nervous about the response the message would receive because only 120 of its 2600 partners were Sun dealers.
But although he said numbers had been slightly disappointing, the response was generally favourable.
“It’s a very good story and was well received but there are still some pieces missing,” Harwood said. “The Java desktop system is a good framework but many customers are using MYOB and other Windows applications so we are actively recruiting ISVs to build solutions.”
Phipps insisted Sun’s new model for selling software was one that would make it profitable, although he refused to speculate on when that might happen. The company has now recorded a loss for 11 consecutive quarters. “This approach is unprecedented in the sale of software but it is not altruism or a loss leader,” he said. “The business we have closed already proves it’s a solution the market has been waiting for.”
And he refuted any suggestion that ‘buy something, use everything’ smacked of desperation.
“As Scott [McNealy] has said before, there hasn’t been a year since he joined the company when somebody hasn’t said Sun is doomed,” he said.