It happened what I actually didn't expected any more. The software produced by Sun is not only working, but is really usable, easy to install and highly regarded outside Sun as well. Sun's "Software Division + Open Source Community" really caught up. Just few samples:
- VisualVM - useful troubleshooting tool.
- JavaDB - powerful, lean embedded / distributed Java DB
- openDS - easy to install (even with WebStart) ldap server
- Wonderland - no comments, just cool.
- Glassfish: from "nothing" to killer appserver. V3 comes with some singnificant usability improvements like easy embedding etc.
- openesb - really interesting "Enterprise Service Bus" the new version is even OSGI based.
- virtualBox - really amazing: a 20 MB, free and powerful virtualization tool
- openSolaris - I only installed it in VirtualBox, during a really boring (almost funny), sponsored JavaONE's General Session. The installation is really easy, the UI nice. I heard only good things about ZFS and Dtrace
- hudson - easy to install, and configure (without XML), continuus integration tool.
Sun's strategy (what I understand from outside), is giving away great software, and sell so more hardware. But is seems like there is not really easy buying hardware from Sun - or only few people know what the offerings actually are. From my perspective Sun is not leveraging the potential here (perhaps with the exception of SunSPOTs). Some samples:
- I bought and assembled a linux server, and recognized one year later, that the T2000 entry server wasn't much more expensive.
- I wondered on a fair/tradeshow in germany about a nice workstation (aluminium finish), similar to Mac Pros, and recognized it is Sun's product - with AMD or Intel Chips and available Windows, Linux, Solaris options. No one on the booth could tell me how to get one. I bought other hardware half year later...
- I found the workstation on Sun's homepage. There is only a small image available. There is no possiblity to enlarge it. Just compare this online product presentation with e.g. Apples Store, and their workstation.
If I were Sun, I would try to sell more hardware and offer more hardware-related services :-):
- I would try to create a Java-Branded Workstation - just for developers, and place it somewhere prominently, or at least make the existing one more visible. With virtualBox, Ubuntu / openSolaris / Windows this could probably take off. I would actually buy one. I think there are enough Java-enthusiast out there, so that this could pay-off.
- I would offer Glassfish, Grails, Rails on EE, etc. hostings / services / clouds. Sun has a Grid, which is rather a generic solution. But Amazon has EC2 and Google the AppEngine. This is actually strange.
- Sun servers are not really visible to developers. I would try to change it, and offer some entry point servers to play with. I know many developers building their own systems (I'm one of them), which are actually not that cheap.
The hard work is actually done - I'm missing only few remaining parts like nice online store, straightforward marketing and more visibility.