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Sun's Last Ditch Efforts for SunONE

Will someone please use our software?

What is a company to do?  writes a Special Correspondent to JDJ Industry News Desk.

If the software isn't selling then the price point must be too high. Let us give it away for free, that will surely make it the number one must-have piece of software.  We'll worry about how to make money later.  Mmmm that didn't work either, tell you what, let's open-source it, thats definitely going to make it a surefire hit.  We'll recapture all that lost market share.  We'll dominate once more.

Well that is the type of conversation that Jonathan Schwartz over at Sun is having at this precise moment regarding Sun's failed SunONE server.  Previously known as iPlanet, it has already been through a major marketing make-over to make it more appealing to the masses, but that appears to have failed. 

Next they take the step of  freeing up the licensing/cost, to allow SunONE to be used essentially in non-commerical and internal applications for free. They also begin preinstalling the application server with all Solaris installations.

That didn't work either.

Their latest effort is to create a groundswell of support from the development community by open-sourcing the software to enable developers to easily use it and incorporate it into their own offerings.  However this isn't as clear-cut as one might hope.  For a start, Sun has to decide on which open-source license to release SunONE under.

If they release under a GPL license this would mean that any derivatives would have to be open sourced also.   This may scare away some commercial organizations from adopting SunONE as their application server of choice since they would have to effectively open up their own source code - which they may not be willing to do.  The alternative to GPL is the lesser-GPL model, which doesn't require the user to open up their own software.  This would be the same model, ironically as JBoss.

"Open Source is not a silver bullet."

But is open-source the answer?  If people didn't want to use it for free in the first place, what difference will making the source code available make?  JDJ's Editor-in-Chief Alan Williamson comments: "Of the big open source projects at the moment, Apache, JBoss etc, they started out as open source.  Here we have a failed commercial offering going to the open source model.  Where is the developer community?  Where is the loyality?  Where is the incentive for developers to move from, say, JBoss to SunONE?".   Nathalie Mason-Fleury, from JBoss, also notes "Open Source is not a silver bullet."

Sun has no made no official timetable for this and is taking the time to explore all its options.  But one thing's for sure: industry analysts are already scratching their heads trying to fathom where Sun can make money from Java, and this latest move will confuse them even more.

More Stories By Java News Desk

JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

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