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hybridJonathan Schwartz has embarked on a series of blog posts to explain Sun Microsystems’ business and strategy in light of the downturn. The first post sets up a series of 3 or 4 posts describing different areas of Sun’s market opportunity – storage, networking, Solaris and MySQL OEMs, and the cloud computing initiative to be announced in two weeks.

This just may be another in a series of positioning statements, or a hint that Sun is finally getting its arms around the impact of the Great Recession as it strikes at the company’s strategic customer base in the financial community. But what is really striking about this post is a single sentence that sums up the depth and breadth of Sun’s go-to-market strategy.

Our software and service products target those that find free to be a more expensive alternative than commercially supported, for whom the cost of downtime exceeds the price of a commercial license.

There it is in a nutshell, a simple explanation for how Sun makes money. The company provides commercially supported technologies at a competitive price to the combined cost of free and downtime. In a time where losers are everywhere and new winners are finding openings, Schwartz is saying Sun is uniquely positioned to gain share. He calls it a small opening but a lucrative one.

To summarize, Schwartz appears to be calling a bottom (tentatively, of course – he’s not crazy) and setting up a selling opportunity for Sun’s new strengths in storage and networking products to be revealed over the course of the next year. It’s not hard to imagine the Sun cloud positioned as the marketing context for these technologies, with the differentiation coming from how Sun manages the on-premise/cloud hybrid relationships with IT and high profile financial community survivors.

There’s something new about this 2009 Schwartz model. It’s simple, direct, the look and feel of a survivor. It’s a risk to boil things down to such a fundamental takeaway, but continued tapdancing is far more dangerous. Good show, Jonathan.

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