Sun’s CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, has fired back at NetApp’s patent suit against Sun over ZFS, the advanced file system that promises to markedly increase data integrity for Sun and Apple users.
From the “best defense is a strong offense” playbook
No court documents to look at yet, but in his blog Schwartz lays out a multi-pronged attack on NetApp:
- “As a part of this suit, we are requesting a permanent injunction to remove all of their filer products from the marketplace, and are examining the original NFS license – on which Network Appliance was started.”
- “In addition to seeking the removal of their products from the marketplace, we will be going after sizable monetary damages.
- Sun “. . . will continue to fund the aggressive reexamination of spurious patents used against the community (which we’ve been doing behind the scenes on behalf of several open source innovators).”
Update: David thoughtfully provided a link to Sun’s legal response. Thank you, David!
Playing to the galleries
Jonathan’s post is aimed at the open software crowd, not NetApp. He wants to turn this into a public relations war over NetApp’s support of open source. That is a battle that NetApp can’t win for (at least) two reasons:
- Businesses worldwide are realizing that open source software is a Good Thing. By casting NetApp as an anti-OSS ogre, and Sun as a valiant defender, Sun strengthens its public image while tearing down NetApp’s. The IT pros who evaluate and recommend storage buys won’t soon forget who the bad guy is.
- WAFL, NetApp’s file system, is based on a lot of prior art. If I read Jonathan correctly, that will be abundantly documented over the next year. Suing people over stuff you didn’t even invent makes you look like a whiner while it undermines your high-tech credentials.
The StorageMojo take
NetApp, like all the “big iron” storage vendors, is facing a soft market. No doubt the ZFS suit seemed like a good idea at the time, but NetApp has much more immediate problems. They need to get serious about settling this or their good public image will soon be permanently sullied.
With EMC set to announce storage clusters next year – sources tell me there’s been some slip, but it is still an ’08 announce – NetApp is going to be facing an even more difficult and dynamic environment. ZFS is a threat of sorts, but storage clusters are the gathering storm for all NFS vendors. Maybe it is time for some new blood at NetApp.
Comments welcome, of course. A note to my NetApp readers: it seems like I haven’t written about NetApp for months and then boom! this week it is all NetApp all the time. And the EMC guy just had to pile on in the comments. It is all coincidence, I assure you.
Update II: Dave Hitz has a thoughtful – expect no less from a Princeton grad – response to the Sun suit announcement.
“examine the original NFS license”
If they start suing anyone, even NetApp or much-hated Microsoft, over NFS license terms, it might be a bit hard for Sun to claim that they’re the good pro-open-source guys in this drama.
Leaving aside the question of whether use of ZFS will ‘markedly [rather than fairly marginally] increase data integrity for Sun and Apple users’, it’s interesting how you unhesitatingly seem to be following Jonathan’s lead in blatantly ignoring just who fired the first legal shot in this matter (Sun’s reiterated demand of $36.5 million from NetApp for allegedly infringing Sun’s patents while dismissing NetApp’s suggestion that given ZFS’s clear debts to patented WAFL technology this was far from a one-way street) and attempting to spin this (for spin it is rather than anything more substantive) as a ‘NetApp vs. open source’ issue.
For anyone actually paying attention (I realize that this may be the usual small minority, of course: it’s far more comfortable just to go with one’s existing prejudices) there’s nothing whatsoever in this disagreement that would in any way ‘sully’ NetApp. Rather, Sun was the one who first attempted to use its patents to extort money, and NetApp’s legal response qualifies as exactly the “best defense is a strong offense” strategy that you seem to prefer to attribute to Sun.
Rather than side with the spin (popular though that choice seems to be), why not admit that this is a rather conventional patent-related dispute between two large corporations whose primary motivations are hardly philanthropic – and let the legal system do its job to decide whether any of the patents involved are enforceable if the two companies can’t manage to settle the issue more sensibly?
If you read Sun’s filing  they explicitly state that neither they, nor STK, sued first.
Sun claims that NetApp approached STK (via a third party) to buy STK patents (before STK was purchased by Sun). STK wasn’t interested in selling, but was willing to license. A little while later Sun bought STK and continued the licensing negotiations. After several years of negotiating Sun claims that NetApp hit them with the lawsuit without any notice.
All this is in the PDF. Check out “ANSWER TO COMPLAINT PARAGRAPH 10” and “ANSWER TO COMPLAINT PARAGRAPH 11”.
Who’s telling the truth is what the court will decide.
This is about marketing – not logic. And in marketing, perceptions rule.
One of these two companies has donated many valuable products and many man-years of engineering to the open-source community. The other hasn’t.
That’s the short story. The “he said, she said” is noise-level bickering irrelevant to the majority of folks who benefit from OSS.
There are two courts here: the court of public opinion and the court in East Texas. The latter will take several years and much money to reach a decision. The former can be mobilized in weeks.
NetApp’s public persona of scrappy underdog is about to get a rude overhaul. Next year’s Fortune list of most admired companies will look very different. Does NetApp really want to join EMC in the basement?
NetApp saw the cluster storage wave coming, but OnTap GX hasn’t taken the world by storm. They need a deep re-think of how they will be competitive over the next 10 years. Is Warmerhoven the guy to do that? The NetApp board needs to ask him some hard questions.
If the answers sound like “business as usual” it is time for a change.
Of course Sun didn’t sue first: they preferred to attempt to extort money ($36.5 million) from NetApp by the mere suggestion of a possible suit. If indeed Sun’s patents were central to NetApp’s products that’s a ridiculously small amount of cash to demand, but it’s about the right amount to ask for in this case to avoid a nuisance lawsuit.
NetApp doesn’t seem to have been interested in submitting to extortion, however, and I applaud them for standing up for what they think is right. The Sun .pdf you cite is yet another dose of marketing spin and should be viewed accordingly. Quite simply, if anything it’s NetApp’s technology that Sun cannot match: WAFL offers the added integrity guarantees that ZFS does while often performing better thanks to its integral use of NVRAM (something that ZFS’s architecture is not as well-positioned to leverage even if they wanted to) and offering a mature ecosystem that makes it easy to configure complex systems (rather than the local file systems that ZFS currently targets).
Sun’s ‘answer’ is characteristic weasel-wording-by-innuendo. It denies that Sun initiated the ‘dispute’ but offers only evidence that NetApp initiated *purchasing or licensing discussions about patents which NetApp asserted did NOT cover NetApp’s existing technology* (i.e., NetApp was interested in developing *additional* technology based on those patents), while failing to deny that Sun carried forward the StorageTek assertions that NetApp was infringing its patents (which, of course, means that Sun – after taking over StorageTek – *did* initiate the actual dispute, just not the earlier and according to NetApp unrelated discussions).
Sun’s email which I cited earlier makes it clear that Sun is demanding money for patents that it claims are being infringed (it even characterizes NetApp’s response as “the best DEFENSE [emphasis added] is a good offense”), not just placing a price on licensing some patents that NetApp would like to be free to use for future products. The implicit threat of a suit should these demands not be met is clear and more than justifies NetApp’s subsequent formal response to require that this allegation be tested in court: Sun’s claim that it didn’t actually sue first is just whining over being called out on this threat (and about having to address NetApp’s counter-claims, though these were no surprise to Sun and it could have avoided them had it been willing to accept the simple patent licensing exchange that NetApp apparently wanted).
The answer to paragraph 10 that you cite is irrelevant noise. The answer to paragraph 11 is more weasel-wording: NetApp claimed that Sun (after acquiring StorageTek) continued to assert that NetApp infringed StorageTek patents and that Sun never withdrew StorageTek’s assertion about three specific patents; Sun’s response actually denies neither of these claims, but instead merely asserts that Sun did not explicitly *repeat* the StorageTek accusation that those three specific patents (and some unspecified others) were being infringed.
That’s as far as I’m interested in wading through this trash tonight. The only real question to my mind is whether any of either company’s patents will be held to be enforceable; if they’re not, that reflects poorly on our patent system rather than on the patent owners, who have every right (and arguably a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders) to seek to enforce patents which they own.
I’m afraid that I’m just not an admirer of mob rule: America in particular has set an abysmally bad example in this area for quite a while now, and other things being equal I’m inclined to suspect that majority opinion is very likely wrong a great deal of the time.
Perhaps NetApp will pay a price for its stance, perhaps not. Any corporate purchaser who bases purchasing decisions on his or her personal (and in this case entirely misplaced) zealotry for open source should be fired; failing that, the corporations which tolerate such incompetence will presumably be more likely to wind up on the trash-heap of history, in the best capitalistic tradition. If NetApp sold to individuals there might be more in the way of PR consequences, but of course it doesn’t.
EMC has been in the basement as far as public opinion went for going on two decades now, during which time it became (and still remains) one of the powerhouses of the industry. Microsoft even more so. Perhaps you over-rate the importance of marketing spin in the world of corporate purchasing: last I knew, NetApp had much deeper file-system-design-and-implementation talent than Sun does, and as long as they continue to leverage that talent to create industry-leading products (rather than the one-hit wonder that ZFS is) they’ll likely do OK.
Robin’s basically correct. This is about marketing and perception. And by filing first NetApp lost the first round.
Whoever actually initiated the dispute, the thing people will remember is who filed the patent infringement suit over something that involves a lot of prior art. That person goes one down in the court of public perception. Way down.
In short, no matter who’s right in this situation (and is anyone really right?) NetApp committed a huge tactical blunder.
Is the a good offense the best defense? Not usually. The best course is laid out in a maxim from Tai Chi and other soft martial arts:
Yield, Accept, Deflect, Control
Trust me, it’s frighteningly effective in a martial arts context and it’s usually extremely effective in life in general.
In short NetApp was stupid. Which reinforces some of the doubts I’ve been having about them for the last two or three years.
Excuse me. The maxim is actually
Accept. Yield. Deflect. Control.
Thank you for a refreshing perspective.
Which “mob rule” do you mean:
-the 12 person jury in east Texas
-or the hundreds of thousands of tech professionals who support OSS?
Bill – please get your facts right first – ZFS does support NVRAM. Please read manual page for zpool command at least. Then WAFL does its checksumming by putting checksum in the same data block which means it protects you from less data corruptions scenarios than ZFS (phantomwrites, mis-directed reads, etc.).
Then it wasn’t NetApp who actually invented CoW file systems – as an example check for WOFS which is dated back to 1991 – see http://mail.opensolaris.org/pipermail/zfs-discuss/2007-September/042584.html
The whole dispute is about NetApp – what’s the point to buy NetApp if you could do all the things and more for free and with open source solutions? Well, maybe fancy and easy to use gui and blackbox approach which a lot of smaller companies prefer – but that would quickly change too.
Please get *your* facts right:
1. I never said that ZFS “didn’t support NVRAM” – I said (quite correcctly, if you actually understand the specifics of the situation) that it could not *leverage its use* nearly as effectively as WAFL can. In particular, WAFL uses its NVRAM as a RAM-speed log to protect its updates while allowing them to be propagated lazily (with queue optimization and full-stripe writes) to the backing disks, while at best ZFS could use NVRAM to speed up its small-update log (otherwise, just to enhance the performance of some file system small enough to reside on it).
2. Had you read my post rather than apparently skimmed it you would have learned that WAFL has two checksumming approaches which do *not* place the checksums in the same blocks that they protect.
3. It’s hardly clear that WOFS predates the concepts in WAFL: NetApp was founded in 1992, presumably after the concepts underlying it had been explored for a sufficient period that basing a company on them seemed worthwhile. It’s worth remembering that in the U.S. a patent is awarded to the first to come up with the concept (as supported by dated lab notes, etc.), not the first to publish or to apply for a patent.
4. The ‘dispute’ began with StorageTek’s (and then Sun’s) assertion that NetApp was infringing *their* patents and should pay them. Not, of course, that any open source products come anywhere near being able to “do all the things and more for free” – you really ought to learn more about NetApp’s products and ZFS’s limitations before presuming to make such assertions.
By ‘mob rule’ I was referring to the alleged “hundreds of thousands of tech professionals who support OSS”. We techies might often like to think that we’re more analytically competent than the Great Unwashed Masses, but if that group actually buys into Sun’s cynical attempt to connect this purely corporate dispute to OSS that will go a long way toward disproving any such hypothesis.
I enjoy reading this blog and want to encourage you to consider breaking from the predictable Sun (not open-source as you will see below) fan-boy pack by digging just a little deeper into some basic facts which should reveal how the truth is really the polar opposite of what your (currently flawed) “perception” is…
∗ Sun != True Open Source due to their far more restrictive CDDL. Linus has openly questioned Sun’s motives specifically in this regard
∗ Aside from the GPL vs. CDDL debate, Linus has also expressed a preference for WAFL over ZFS on his kernel newsgroups here: http://lkml.org/lkml/2007/6/12/232
∗ Favorite quote “the only really interesting thing they have is ZFS, and even there, I suspect we’d be better off talking to NetApp, and seeing if they are interested in releasing WAFL for Linux”
∗ While Sun as a general purpose systems company may have contributed more to the free (but shared source) community than NetApp, this is an unfair comparison since the latter is only a storage / data management company
∗ In fact one of NetApp’s engineers demonstrates a few examples, which highlight that NetApp has probably contributed MORE intellectual property and funds to the true open source storage community than Sun! See details here: http://blogs.netapp.com/dave/2007/09/sun-patent-team.html#comment-82582969
∗ The Groklaw crowd is an example of the marginal conspiracy theorists which have misguidedly latched on to this case. See this link: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20071025004033835
∗ Their assertion that NetApp is somehow in league with Microsoft to use this litigation as a mechanism to shut down open source is laughable in so many ways I don’t even know where to begin!
∗ Anyone who knows the naturally competitive as well as cooperative nature of the NetApp-Microsoft relationship can easily confirm the folly of that assertion
∗ Do you REALLY want to associate yourself with the likes of these folks?
Believe me when I say that I fully agree with your views on perception trumping reality, but I have higher expectations of you Robin. I hope you choose to act as a leader in this case, instead of a follower.
“It’s worth remembering that in the U.S. a patent is awarded to the first to come up with the concept (as supported by dated lab notes, etc.), not the first to publish or to apply for a patent”.
This is exactly why SUN will win, on the basis of ‘prior knowledge’, with the support from the OSS community.
Dave Hitz (on his blog) quotes the RIM/Blackberry case…as ‘it took years and years to get to that point, and was still averted in the end.’ …which suggests that everything is ‘negotiable’ and that his employees should not worry about their job.
They should also remember that this conflict involves OSS and it may conclude with an ‘unconditional’ surrender. This is what NetApp faces, should they lose the case.
I predict that Dave will start to ‘negotiate’ as soon as the NetApp stock starts to deteriorate, due to the uncertainty of the legal outcome, helped by lower product sales when influenced by a considerable sentiment within the OSS community. The on-going value of the NetApp stock is a good barometer of the popular vote … and money talks.
I agree with Robin that this is about marketing … and if implemented properly, it should not fail. It seems that the marketing is well on the way.
Sun has much better OSS credentials, ZFS is open source & Sun has committed to donate half of the financial proceeds ‘to the leading institutions promoting free software and patent reform’ and to the ‘legal defense of free software innovators’ and ‘whatever’s left over will fuel a venture fund fostering innovation in the free software community’. Sun CTO is openly against software patents.
This will boost an already considerable support within the OSS movement …and here money talks again. Sun will continue to reinforce this as an anti-OSS case (which it is), hoping that the NetApp management will do a self-destruct, long before this case is resolved in court.
I believe that the ‘power’ of the OSS movement is very much *understated* when it comes to purchasing decisions. In some cases, this situation may force an OSS-related ‘vote’ each time a NetApp product is under consideration…. and it helps Sun, even if the purchase goes to IBM. A 10-20% movement in purchasing decisions is a lot of power.
NetApp should negotiate before its too late .….otherwise, their board & large stock holders may not be too forgiving for positioning the company at such crossroads. The management will need to change if they are ‘committed’ to ‘years and years’ in court, since they are solely responsible for this blunder.
On the other hand, Sun is a much more diversified company and can afford to lose this case, with little impact on their business. What they lose here is their gain in publicity. It’s a win-win strategy…and it may be in their interest to prolong the court battle for as long as possible.
we will be doubling our netapp investment over the course of next few months..guess my manager does not give a heck about who is a better cheerleader for OSS. because after all, no corporate cheerleader does it for free.
stop wearing the OSS defender helmets and, and I mean SUN…time proved and will continue to do so, that in a corporate word the OSS community is just another manipulation tool to rally the masses for their own interest….hey this is corporate america! $$ rule.
The term “mob rule” is pejorative and inappropriate to describe a market. People vote with their dollars. In this case there seem to be some number of technical recommenders/specifiers deciding they don’t want to do business with NetApp over this matter. This happens all the time in business.
Your narrative is that Sun is cynically manipulating people to gain the advantage in a corporate dispute for their profit. My narrative is that they are trying to put NetApp on the defensive by appealing to both technology and business people who support OSS.
Are they also doing so because they believe they’ll make a profit? Of course. So? We live in a capitalist society.
Tech professionals have no special claim on wisdom. However they are entitled to their opinions.
AFAIK, NetApp hasn’t made many donations to OSS. They have a number of smart engineers like Peter Corbett working on open standards such as NFS v4. That’s enlightened self-interest.
Sun has made massive donations to OSS, even if Linus doesn’t like the license. Some of the donations have been major inventions such as Dtrace.
But this isn’t about totaling up OSS donations to pick the morally deserving player. There is a deeper issue.
The dispute is between business models. Patents are the stalking horse. Open source software and IT consumerization is changing the face of the market, even in hidebound storage. I think I feel an article coming on, so I’ll stop here.
The guilt-by-association thread fails to convince. Most conspiracy theories are goofy because human stupidity, cupidity, hubris and inertia are simpler explanations. People whose comfortable 60% gross margin businesses are being gored by market forces react in similar ways, but that doesn’t make it a conspiracy.
People who are tired of supporting 60% gross margin businesses also tend to act in similar ways. Supporting companies with a different value proposition is a rational start.
Please don’t twist my statements, Robin: I didn’t characterize any *market* as ‘mob rule’, I characterized the attempts of a very vocal minority (not even the “hundreds of thousands of tech professionals who support OSS”, though of the two choices you provided that was the closer one, but just the minuscule portion of that group who have uncritically jumped in to support Sun so far) to *control* that market as ‘mob rule’.
NetApp’s support of open standards can no more legitimately be dismissed as merely ‘enlightened self-interest’ than can Sun’s contributions to open source. Both have multiple motivations, by no means all of them philanthropic. Sun in particular really embraced open source only quite recently (far more recently than IBM, SGI, and even to some degree HP, for example), when they were quite visibly desperately flailing around trying to avoid sinking (not that they’ve necessarily changed that situation yet, but at least the change in focus put them back on the public radar for reasons other than a protracted death-watch).
While you actually did get off on the right foot initially by observing that “Jonathan … wants to turn this into a public relations war over NetApp’s support of open source” and that ZFS is only a ‘threat of sorts’ to NetApp (that’s most likely why NetApp just ignored ZFS until Sun started to get pushy about the patent issue), you then implicitly supported Jonathan’s attempt at misdirection by ignoring the fact that Sun fired the first shot here and suggesting that the resulting interchange would somehow ‘sully’ NetApp.
You then *explicitly* supported Jonathan’s spin by characterizing the core of the situation thusly: “One of these two companies has donated many valuable products and many man-years of engineering to the open-source community. The other hasn’t.”
And even in your most recent post above, you carefully skirt the rather central question of whether Sun has anything in the way of the moral high ground here that its strident open-source supporters are clearly claiming it does (cheerfully ignoring that fact that Sun began this patent skirmish). You also (I hope not deliberately) confuse what would be a simple business decision to purchase the most cost-effective technology (assuming that open-source solutions in the space which NetApp occupies *were* more cost-effective, though of course that has yet to be even seriously suggested let alone proven) with the vehement *personal dislike* that the drooling fanatics are expressing toward NetApp that has nothing whatsoever to do with cost-effectiveness (and in fact is quite likely counter-productive in that respect, given these alleged NetApp customers’ previous presumably more rational decision to use NetApp products).
In the end, you still don’t get it: apart from the extremely mundane squabbling between two corporate patent-holders, this is all about emotion rather than anything of actual substance. There’s no reason for people to get emotional about buying cost-effective products – they just do it. There’s even no reason for people to get emotional about whether NetApp’s stance might prevent a more cost-effective product from appearing on the market for some period of time: that’s just the way patent laws work, and until such time as eitheer the laws are changed or Sun and all other corporations are willing to donate *all* their patents to open source NetApp will not be qualitatively different in this respect.
It is, however, about having something at least perceived as being tastey dangled under their noses by Sun and then potentially being taken away should it turn out that Sun had no right to dangle it in the first place – very much like the situation with the original Napster, save for the part where Sun precipited the confrontation by first attempting to use its patents against NetApp. Napster had no right to be providing the service that it was providing and shutting it down was entirely appropriate – it’s only the sleazy and bullying legal (and illegal) behavior that the RIAA exhibited *later* that’s earned them real opprobrium (well, that and the fact that they screw artists so thoroughly, but again there’s no NetApp parallel there).
Now, if you want to side with people who get really peeved about not being able to grab whatever they want, regardless of who happens to own it, go right ahead. But don’t confuse it with any kind of legitimate business or marketing tactic: it’s a lot more reminiscent of the concept of ‘lebensraum’ (as is to at least some degree Jonathan’s accompanying rhetoric).
You nicely contradicted yourself in combining the response to Bill and myself above. On one end responding to Bill, you refer to the fact that “We live in a capitalist society” which despite all its warts feeds off free open markets.
Yet in your response to me, you parrot the (communist) subversive undertone of “People who are tired of supporting 60% gross margin businesses”.
Has it ever occurred to you that no one is forcing organizations to purchase at 60% gross margin (or often higher for other technologies)? This is the same childish drivel of the open source fanboys who naively want their cake (innovation) and to eat it too (make it free).
Your biases are clear. While I don’t agree with them, I do thank you for giving me the open forum to discuss them.
All the best,
Chill, dude. You brought up “mob rule” not me. If you don’t like inflammatory language then don’t use it. You do recognize that “mob rule” is pejorative, right?
IMHO, technical people are just as emotional about their purchases as anyone else, they’re just usually less self- aware. The rationalizations are typically dressed out in the tech detail which gets much emotional discussion. Does the term “flame war” mean ring any bells?
Techies wouldn’t be normal if they *weren’t* emotional about their work and tools. I’m glad they are and I enjoy learning about different issues during the debates.
Right. I’m just another Wharton MBA communist. You must be psychic. Or something. I hope your enterprise storage salesman realizes what a wonderful
suckercustomer you are.
Open source is just another form of competition in IT. There are dozens of excellent open source products that are highly competitive with commercial products. I’d like to see some in the storage industry as well.
Why? So we’d have more competition and lower prices. If you feel that is un-American or Communistic then I recommend plenty of bed rest until the feeling goes away. Brush up on your Adam Smith while you rest.
I use language that I feel is appropriate, and I criticize language that I feel is unwarranted. The same kind of language (hell, even exactly the same language) can qualify as either, depending upon its context.
In other words, I’m criticizing the content of what you say, not how you say it. So there’s no inconsistency of the sort that you suggest.
You actually do get to the core of the matter above when you state “IMHO, technical people are just as emotional about their purchases as anyone else, they’re just usually less self- aware. The rationalizations are typically dressed out in the tech detail which gets much emotional discussion.” It’s really interesting that, given that insight, you can’t seem to apply it to the situation under discussion here.
Let’s try to spell it out very simply, one more time:
I’m generally a fan of capitalism moderated appropriately (and sparingly) by government to serve society’s overall interests. Competition is good, but not the only good – in particular, protection of intellectual property deliberately trades off a bit of potential competition in order to provide more encouragement for the innovation that drives progress.
That’s not my opinion: that’s the law. If you don’t like some aspects of that law, by all means work to change it. But in the meantime, don’t castigate (or cheer on others who castigate) companies for working within the existing law: that’s not only their right, it’s their obligation (e.g., to their shareholders).
If you don’t like the idea of paying NetApp-level margins for products, by all means choose different ones, assuming that you can find some that meet your needs as well as NetApp’s do. But don’t complain that NetApp refuses to allow their lawfully-protected IP to be used to create lower-priced products that compete with theirs: rather, encourage the creation of new, unprotected IP that can be used to create such products.
(Oh, yes: If you think, based on the careful and detailed analysis of the patents and associated art that is required to form a competent opinion in this area, that NetApp’s patents never should have been granted in the first place, even under the law as it was interpreted at the time, then your complaint is still not with NetApp but with the USPTO, and the simple solution – again, not justifying any emotional involvement – is to get on with your life while waiting for the court to rule on the question.)
If you still can’t understand, then I guess there’s no hope for you. But if you make an honest effort to understand, I doubt that will be the case.
My observation has been that IT pricing comes down only when something gets commoditized.
I certainly can’t speak for everyone but my organization still views IT as a competitive advantage (which is why I still work there). As such, we value two things:
1. Innovation to let us do more than the other guys, with faster turnaround, using fewer people and resources (power, space, etc…)
2. Absolute Data Integrity with high (5 nines style) availability
While we use open and shared source solutions to offer several network services and applications here, we’ve yet to run across any such solutions in the storage world which satisfy our two key criteria above.
I’d love to know which ones you consider worthy enough for us to look at.
Bill Todd: On Sun’s motivation, read this blog entry by Schwartz: