It's back to the future for Sun Microsystems as it conducts its quarterly product launch on Wall Street in New York on Tuesday, where the company will pledge to continue its efforts to recapture its one-time dominance among financial-services companies.
"We're going back to our roots," says John Loiacono, executive VP of software for Sun. "By taking our eye off the ball and not meeting some of the demand, we let business slip away. Now we're ready to take that business back."
Originally a major supplier of workstations and servers to financial-services companies, Wall Street remains a multibillion dollar market for Sun, Loiacono says. That market could be substantially larger if Sun hadn't made a number of miscalculations in the late '90s that led to an erosion of its position, he says.
Among the missteps was not adequately addressing the price and performance equation with its servers, and discontinuing research and development to make its Solaris operating system easier to use on x86-based systems.
Those are two areas that Sun wants Wall Street to know it's now addressing, Loiacono says. Sun is introducing lower-cost systems based on Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc., and will continue expansion of Solaris for use in multiple environments, including a plan to release operating systems to the open-source community later this year.
Gordon Haff, an analyst with research firm Illuminata, says he isn't sure how big an impact that opening up Solaris will make. "It's really a play for the development community," he says. "Sun used to be the most popular Unix development platform, and it's really been upstaged by Linux in particular and open source in general. I'm not sure this makes a practical difference, but it's a mind-share game and potentially puts IBM and HP on the defensive to be more open."