Sun Microsystems is getting some love from Wall Street after its sales and earnings topped estimates, as detailed by Bloomberg. Software sales jumped 21 percent year-over-year.
What is fueling the growth? The same thing that Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz has doggedly said would lift Sun's fortunes again: open source.
Open source has powered Sun's resurgence in several ways. First, open source makes Sun interesting and relevant again to IT buyers. Sun is shedding its image as the high-cost, high-performance leader to the low-cost, high-performance leader.
Second, Sun's open-source products are starting to contribute real dollars to sales growth. I had heard that MySQL did $81 million in the quarter.
While it turns out that number is inflated [I have since confirmed that this is the right number], it is the case that Sun's MySQL division had its best quarter ever, jumping 55 percent quarter-over-quarter and, according to one inside source, closing several large deals that topped anything MySQL had been able to close before. Sun's brand makes an investment in MySQL less risky.
But it's not just MySQL. Indeed, Sun's Open Storage product line is now on a $100 million annual run rate, growing 21 percent in the quarter.
Third, open source gives Sun an efficient distribution mechanism that increases the power of its sales force dramatically. Instead of having to hunt for deals in a cash-starved economy, Sun is able to sell into a growing body of incoming leads. That's the power of open source, and Sun is using it effectively.
Sun still has a long ways to go, but its intelligent use of open source should get it there.
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