Bypass and disrupt
Sun's disk storage strategy
How Sun is going about this with its disk-based storage products is utterly dependent on Solaris and what has happened to it.
The Solaris model
A few years ago Solaris was, roughly speaking, just another proprietary Unix facing prolonged decline under the twin assaults of Linux and Windows, plus sideways attacks from HP-UX and AIX. Today it is one of the most widely-distributed and used operating systems on the planet with razor-sharp, leading edge technology such as ZFS.
What happened? How did this come about? Sun saw that people, businesses, were not going to buy Solaris and Solaris-based systems in the numbers needed to make Sun's revenue goals. Solaris was, technically speaking, a very good O/S but, in a market sense it was a weak product, having no good answer to the open source Linux surge and not distinguished enough from HP-UX and AIX.
Sun turned this weakness into a strength by making Solaris free and selling support contracts for it. Solaris is turning into a distribution, like Linux. Developers anywhere and everywhere downloaded millions of free copies. The calculation is that some of these will be employed by business and some these businesses will buy Solaris-based kit from Sun. And so they are, slowly but surely.
Solaris is not a profit centre in itself. It is an enabler of support revenues and hardware sales. The (Solaris) volume drives value (through support and hardware sales) elsewhere in Sun.
Now Sun is building a better O/S mousetrap but giving it away in exchange for Solaris users' influence on business purchases of Sun products and support down the line. It is indirect and it is disruptive of the traditional UNIX O/S business model as employed by HP (HP-UX) and IBM (AIX).