Scott McNealy gave a talk on "Open Wins: Leadership and Innovation" at the Technical University of Berlin today. Scott McNealy is of the "The Network is the Computer" fame from the dotcom boom of the 90s and is presently the Chairman of Sun Microsystems. I was part of the audience and found a few things worth blogging.
The key message of his talk was that Sun is and has been an open source champion forever. I don't buy into that (Solaris wasn't open source till 2005). But Scott blamed a prior agreement with AT&T Unix for this. Whatever the truth is, I cannot seem to place Solaris in the same bandwagon as Linux when I think open source. I suspect that Sun is trying to leverage the open source developer community to shoulder the costs of keeping Solaris updated (he himself alluded to the bug-squelching power of open source software). Perhaps like the Fedora project of Redhat?
Scott also touted the Sun Ultrasparc T2 processor - with lots of multi threading and multi core support and the 1.5 Watt/thread low-power footprint. Off course there was the usual Microsoft/Oracle bashing (Microsoft and its patches... so un-open source, Oracle and its $40k per-core licensing... so un-Mysql), but the hidden message was that Sun hopes that these new T2s find their way into routers and energy conscious data-centers. Although in my opinion I doubt if Oracle's grip on enterprise database computing is going to loosen up anytime soon, so Mr. McNealy may find it a tad-bit difficult to wean enterprises from their established Oracle databases into to Sun-acquired Mysql.
I asked Mr. McNealy about why Sun-promoted Open Office does not enjoy the MS Office - .NET (think VB Macros) type of integration with Java. The answer I got seemed to suggest that I should ask the open source community about this. Why shouldn't Sun take the lead in this? Java is their baby and Sun says it is all for Open office, then why not cure the Achilles heel of Open office through Java integration? This makes me suspect what I said about Solaris earlier - that Sun is trying to leverage the open source developer community to shoulder the costs of integrating a credible scripting platform into Open office.
Undoubtedly Sun has done more for open source than most other companies (for example, as Scott rightly pointed out, Google has a rather poor record on this front). Lets hope Sun does a lot more in the future.