Hey Jonathan: The L in LAMP is Literal

amcpherson's picture

Charlie Babcock just published a report on Sun’s new strategy aimed at Web 2.0 developers. Charlie’s one of the best trade reporters in the business, but I would have loved for the LF to have been asked to comment on CEO Jonathan’s statements.

First off, the report says Sun’s new strategy is to target Web 2.0 developers. Much like their decision to open source Solaris, this strikes me as of course the obvious and smart thing to do, but a little too late. In similar news, I am planning a huge Y2K party to usher in the millennium. We’re going to party like it’s 1999!

I’d also like to ask which and how many Web 2.0 developers? You mean the ones who are not on Linux? Unfortunately that doesn’t leave very many. Facebook, Amazon’s cloud computing initiatives, Google, YouTube, Flickr, Technorati, Wikipedia, Digg, del.icio.us all run on Linux. New developers are targeting Linux. Why? Cost, choice and talent pool. When you’re a small company, you need the most leverage against vendors to keep your costs down. Linux provides this with its thriving support from multiple companies and hardware platforms. You’re not locked into a company, a platform or distribution. (Developers can even buy Linux from Sun. I hear through the grapevine that 70% of their x86 sales are Linux — not Solaris, 10, Open or otherwise. Quite a damning figure but not surprisingly omitted from Jonathan’s slides.)

Platforms are all about momentum. You want to be able to hire from the deepest and broadest talent pool as possible for both developers and operational professionals. You want to know the platform has a community to continue to expand functionality. This means Linux; just compare market share numbers and you’ll see what I mean. I’m sure Sun can point to a few examples of Web 2.0 companies they have convinced, via generous hardware gifts, to go with them and publicly talk about it. (I once did PR for Sun and remember.) But I would love to see reporters and analysts compare the numbers and push a little further. Instead of anecdotes, lets look at numbers and momentum.

Next Jonathan talks about their recent acquisition of MySQL. “MySQL brings another key set of developers, the users of the integrated open source LAMP stack, he said. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP or Perl. The “L” doesn’t have to be taken literally, he added. Sun can and will substitute Solaris for Linux in the stack.”

Really, Jonathan? Sun can certainly substitute Solaris for Linux in the stack, but I’m not sure many customers will. (Customers tend to be pretty literal in their technology decisions.) Why would a “young Internet company” tie their business to a platform with shrinking market share and a tiny non-Sun developer base? We are confident MySQL will continue supporting Linux as its primary platform partner since that is where they make their sales. MySQL CEO Marten Mickos in fact will be speaking on this topic at our upcoming Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit.

I certainly agree with Jonathan here: “Everything,” he said, “begins with the development of a community,” such as the Sun Developer Network or the OpenSolaris community of developers.”

This is why the L in Lamp is Linux and Literal. Linux has the broadest and most active development community of any open source project. Linux has over 3,000 developers contributing to just the kernel in the last year, while Sun has announced 70 non-Sun engineers. (This doesn’t even account for the vibrant development communities around Linux community distributions, desktop toolkits and other upstream projects outside of the kernel.)

The Linux development community keeps getting stronger while Sun’s is seeing public defections of some of its most important members due to Sun’s control. Mike Dolan does a nice analysis here.

We may not have the targeted marketing campaigns that Sun has given the distributed and community nature of Linux. We may not do all the spin Jonathan does in misleading blog posts like this. (You may want to examine the count leading to Solaris’ “third place finish” cited in this post. It’s wrong and hardly something to crow about given Solaris’ traditional incumbent advantage in this very specific market.) We may not have fancy Linux analyst days and mountains of spin, but it is all about the development community. Literally.