Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sun should shine on enterprise software

Josh Greenbaum has written an open letter to Sun's chairman, Scott McNealy. Rather than focusing on operating systems, development tools, application servers, and systems management tools, which are becoming commoditized, Josh thinks that Sun ought to focus on software: specifically enterprise applications.
The point is that the enterprise software market does a relatively good job of staying ahead of the commodity curve. Enterprise software, when it combines vertical functionality and deep business expertise, is by definition commodity-proof, at least for long enough to make a difference in a vendor's bottom line. And enterprise software does so in part by helping to commoditize other sectors of the software market.

Hence the presence of apps servers, portals, integration services, and the like in SAP's software stack. It's no coincidence that much of what SAP includes as a loss-leader for its applications sales are pieces of technology that Sun has been hoping, vainly, would help it become a software powerhouse.

So, Scott, it's time to get real about enterprise software. Which means getting real about moving out of the commodity stack and into the value-added side of the equation.
I couldn't agree more. As Josh points out, Sun has long had a reputation for providing the most robust, secure, and scalable platform for enterprise applications, although Sun never did a good job of incorporating that as a main theme of its marketing message. Sun ought to push further in the direction of enterprise applications: buy a couple of enterprise software vendors and systems integration firms and offer the whole nine yards, from hardware, operating systems, and development tools to software applications and services. With Sun's newly found cooperation with Microsoft, the difficulties associated with desktop integration ought to be resolved, eliminating one big source of customer frustration in adopting Sun technologies.

Read Datamation for Greenbaum's entire letter.

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