Google and Sun. What does it mean?

by Volker Weber

Everybody is talking about Google going with Sun against Microsoft, but nobody has really figured out what they are doing. The news today is somewhat of a non-event. Google will be distributing the Java VM with the Google searchbar. What does that mean for Sun, and what does it mean for Google?

Sun is easy. They were in desperate need of a distribution mechanism for the JVM for a long time. You may remember the fight they had with MS over the outdated JVM that MS was delivering with IE. Of course MS did not want to make an up-to-date Java engine available. It contradicts everything they plan to do. Now Google helps Sun to get the machine on every desktop that Google delivers to. A big win.

Google is harder to explain. Do you know what IBM is trying to do with Workplace? This will get awfully close to what IBM wants to deliver. A look into my crystal ball says: One of the elements will be OpenOffice components running on top of a JVM. IBM has them, and Google will have them too. The difference: Google will provide the servers and the storage. You will be able to use Google to search all your documents along with your email and your instant messages.

A zero-touch desktop which runs off of Google's servers. Without the IBM middleware stack. Now take this a little bit further by adding VoIP services and whatever else you can dream up in computing as a service. Neat, eh?


Not anywhere as neat as it may sound.

Stefan Rubner, 2005-10-05

Doesn't even sound neat.... sounds scary :(

Vince Schuurman, 2005-10-05

I dont think the target audience of google searchbar and ibm workplace is the same. At the end it might even turns out the google is being sales motor for workplace. time will show.

Gregory Engels, 2005-10-05

Hm, from the announcement I read Under the agreement, Sun will include the Google Toolbar as an option in its consumer downloads of the Java Runtime Environment on If my english is not totally gone nuts, that means that SUN is delivering Google Toolbar, not vice versa, right? Also, it says "optional" in there, so I still have the choice.
The announcement in the whole is more than vague, of course, and later on Scott McNealy is quoted Working with Google will make our technologies available more broadly [...] which actually supports the general idea of Volker's post.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2005-10-05

This really makes sense! One day, we won’t bother to have a metal box at home/office with drives and software etc – no point/need/hassle. Simply have a connection, either wired or wireless, and all our computing needs are supplied as a service online. No need for hardware replacement, software upgrades, backups, capacity issues etc.

Like in the old days every factory generated their own electricity and had to manage a generator, fuel supply, maintenance, load balancing etc – then it became much easier simply to plug into the national grid, who look after the ‘back office’ more efficiently with their scale...

Howard Rosen, 2005-10-06

The target audiences are definitely different for the Google/Sun combination vs. IBM Workplace. The IBM Workplace concept is for all of the user's applications to be integrated into one window/application/user interface (i.e. workplace). The workplace is managed by the server, allowing you to work offline and provides features like: document management, email, IM, and has a version of Open Office which IBM has extended. It is Eclipse-based, but IBM has added plugins allowing EJBs, web services, JMS, SSO, DB, local encryption and other services. These provide lots of integration options with other apps, such as SAP, PeopleSoft, etc. The real target here is of course corporate customers.

This Google/Sun browser-based desktop would cover email/IM/VoIP, office editors and document searching on the OS, but would not provide any further integration possibilities. It is targeted at home users, not at corporate customers.

I work for IBM and have experience with IBM Workplace. These are however, only my opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer (OK, I hope that makes the legal guys happy :-).

John Cummins, 2005-10-06

@John - what if they added these capabilities to the Google Enterprise offerings after battel-testing them in the consumer marketplace?

My thoughts here....

Brian Benz, 2005-10-06

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