There’s more noise about Solaris competing with Linux over at slashdot.

I can understand the argument that Sun should direct their efforts to Linux. You know, Peace, Love, Linux. But which business would throw away their crown jewel to compete in the delivery of a product that already has a leading vendor (by some distance over #2)?

Can you imagine asking MySQL to get into the Oracle support business (imagining that Oracle open sources their products)? Or let’s pressure Alfresco to jump into the (future :-) open sourced MS SharePoint project. Yes, I know, it’s ludicrous to ask MySQL or Alfresco to throw away their assets and jump into a market with a much stronger competitor who essentially owns the market in question, through the OSS product/project in question.

And yet, that is what some would suggest Sun do. But this ain’t no disco. Sun is going to do what any (logical) business would do. Compete.

While I have no issue with Sun (or any other vendor) competing, I finally see what all the fuss is about. When a vendor competes, they start with “low hanging fruit”, meaning customers that are the easiest to win. These customers are easiest to win for several reasons, including the fact that they are current or were previous customers. Often, the low hanging fruit market isn’t very large. As a result, vendors climb higher up the tree into more difficult competitive situations.

For Solaris, Linux is the low hanging fruit and Windows is the fruit higher up in the tree. Don’t be fooled by the hype that Solaris & Linux will work to take out Windows. That sounds great on paper, but take a look at which operating system was most often replaced with Linux (hint: not Windows) and you’ll see where Solaris is heading.

As HW vendors continue to sign distribution deals with Sun, Solaris will be able to close the broad platform availability gap vs. Linux. I can’t think of a HW vendor that will be against adding Solaris as an option for customers. (OSS religion aside, more choice is good for customers, which is good for HW vendors.) It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Linux penetration is so widespread that the Solaris vs. Linux competition shouldn’t come down to a: “there can be only one” scenario ;-)