Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz Interviewed by Tim O’Reilly

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Jonathan SchwartzTim O’Reilly interviews Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun. Sun pioneered the phrase the network is the computer.

Tim asks Jonathan about how he uses blogging to help run Sun.

J: Blogging as a term at some point will become achronistic. Its about communication. Why not use the internet to communicate effectively and authentically. One of the toughest parts of the job is communicating with the 33,000 employees. Why not communicate with them and everyone else at the same time.

T: Controversy part of the strategy?

J: If you talk about undifferentiated things that are expected then nobody cares. You have to take a position to have anyone care.

T: What’s the worst horror story for your PR department?

J: Most terrifying when GC started writing a blog (lol), never really terrified the PR department, but have scared the IR department at times. Required a link to safe harbor statement.

T: How should/could people use blogs?

J: View it as a way to communicate. Communicate in the way that’s most effective to you.

T: Recently bought MySQL. A billion dollars is a lot for a company that gives its product away.

J: Integration is going fantastically. MySQL is not a charity. It was making money and growing like a weed. They were in the midst of doing an IPO and we felt that there was a great synergy with what Sun does. They now get 70,000 downloads everyday so they get 70k new touch points every day that they can introduce Sun’s infrastructure to.

T. What about the network providers and cloud computing?

J: Whatever we can use to reach consumers and touch them. Increasingly the touch points will be everywhere.

T. The cloud creates the ability to create these really interesting data collections.

J: We have huge numbers of downloads and updates. We get a huge data exhaust from this that provides us with insight into what’s going on around the internet.

T. Do you view Amazon as a utility?

J. Clear pricing and substitutability are earmarks of utilities. The lack of substitutable APIs means that the don’t have the ability to move easily across providers. Users want that complete portability. If we get there, we will also get to clear pricing.

T. Talk about scientific computing. How do you see the low end and high end converging.

J. We see three pools of computing – business automation, erp, hr 90% of market. Two other segments – high computing and social infrastructure services that are both growing fast. These segments are growing really fast because the costs to do this have dropped so fast. He points to a company called Aggregate Knowledge – (an Amazon like collaborative filtering application that filters information across multiple data vendors). What he really needs is these really fast SMP machines that can handle the terabytes of data and huge computing really fast.

T. Asks about how Google is running on all these really small computers.

J. If you take a closer look, these are really high performance machines. More like what Sun sells.

T. What about virtualization?

J. We will be a leading provider of this and it will be free. We want everyting to be virtualized. We want them to be twice as efficient and that will likely result in twice as many being bought.

T. What about the power consumption?

J. We’ve already hit the problem. In Tokyo, the cost of the energy is higher than the cost of the computer. This is a problem. Still only half of the CTO’s are responsible for their energy costs.

T. How have you greened your infrastructure

J. The Niagra platforms an example of this. Went from 0 to $1billion within one year. It’s optimized for power efficiency.

T. Once the other half of those CTOs become aware of the power problem it will play into Sun’s cloud computing agenda

J. The other thing that’s interesting. When I asked the CTOs about whether they used MySQL, no one raised their hand. When I checked they had all downloaded it between 500 to 5,000 times.

T. Talk about the Black Box.

J. Moving air around is really inefficient. Power sources shift as well. We need to make it portable. The most portable thing is a shipping container. We are now in deployments of these mobile computer data centers.

T. Any last thoughts

J. The network is the computer, data is the currency. ZSF storage innovation is an important part of this. We’ve been very aggressive moving out to connect with the part of market that thinks about data. Free products and great ideas are the best way to connect with that market.

UPDATE: Here’s the video

[tags]Jonathan Schwartz, Sun, Web20Expo[/tags]

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