Sun ousted as number One

Peter Kilby peterkilby@dsl.pipex.com
Fri, 19 Jul 2002 13:32:13 +0100


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http://www.sparcproductdirectory.com/top-sparc-companies.html

      The SPARC Product Directory has been used by buyers, pre-sales =
support people, systems integrators and marketers for over 10 years. It =
currently includes links to around 700 companies which are focused on =
selling SPARC compatible hardware. It also includes another 3,000 =
external links to other other types of companies which provide services, =
software or market information which might be of interest to our =
readers. But which are the ones which really matter?=20

      I analyzed pagviews on company profiles in the period leading up =
to the end of Sun's 4th quarter (ending June 30) to see what our readers =
have been looking at, and to try and understand why. There were a few =
surprises. I hope you find this a useful insight into what's going on in =
the world of SPARC.=20
            Rank Editor's Comments (unless indicated otherwise)=20
            1 Tadpole

            "We're delighted with this recognition of the Tadpole brand =
and the company's relationship with Sun Microsystems' and its =
technologies," says Graham Brown, president of Tadpole's portable UNIX =
and server businesses. "Tadpole is focused on extending the enterprise =
applications of UltraSPARC and Solaris technologies as complementary =
solutions to those of Sun Microsystems', and in applying its expertise =
developed over many years to increasingly complex and challenging =
applications of the SPARC business-critical platform."

            Editor:- If you look at Tadpole today, knowing nothing about =
its history, you may be tempted to think it's a shiny new company which =
just got lucky. But luck had nothing to do with top billing in our =
reader interest rated feature.=20

            The smiths of old knew that to make a sword of iron which =
would both keep its blade sharp, but would not be easily broken in =
battle, it would have to be forged first in a red hot fire and beaten =
with a hammer. Then while the metal was still glowing it should be =
quenched in cold water. Analysts who've followed Tadpole would probably =
say they've been through that process, and that's why they look so good =
today.=20

            I first came across Tadpole as a user in the 1980's when =
they made a VMEbus card for one of the first RISC chips, the transputer =
from Inmos. They reappeared in my radar in the 1992 edition of the SPARC =
Product Directory, with their SPARCbook, the world's first SPARC =
portable.=20

            Then for several years the company seemed to go through a =
difficult period, first seeing off Sun's own unsuccessful foray into =
SPARC portables, and then having to meet with competition from another =
SPARC portable maker called RDI Computer. In the mid 1990's Tadpole =
diversified its portable family into other architectures including HP's =
PA RISC and then Intel. That's when the company got roasted and I =
wondered if it would survive. They looked like a classical technology =
company which was weak in marketing. They were stretched too thin in =
markets which looked similar from the technology point of view, but =
which had non overlapping VAR channels and customers.=20

            There were a lot of changes in the company's marketing =
personnel at that time. Quickly the company dropped its Intel notebooks, =
and admitted that the Sun market was where it had to be successful. =
Competition for SPARC portables came from many sources. In addition to =
RDI's SPARC challenge, there were VARs selling preloaded Solaris X86 =
portables which nibbled away at some low end applications Also the early =
generations of Sun's SPARCstations like the IPX were physically as small =
as a portable and could be used as low cost luggables. Was the market =
really big enough to support all these ways of solving the same problem? =
The answer at the time was no. But then Tadpole seemed to change and =
start talking more about marketing. Sun's workstations got faster and =
bigger, and could no longer be used as luggables. That still left RDI...

            In October, 1998 Tadpole acquired RDI and the best products =
from each company were retained. But was that really a big enough =
market? In November 2000 Tadpole acquired Cycle Computer, the leading =
supplier of motherboard upgrades for SPARC workstations, and an emerging =
supplier of rackmount SPARC systems. I thought that was very significant =
and wrote an article about it at the time.

            The portable computer market for all architectures grew last =
year (both Wintel and SPARC). More recently Sun's announcement that it =
was dumping Solaris X86 may have driven a few more customers in the =
direction of SPARC notebooks, because the cheaper alternatives were now =
a dead end. Also the rackmount segment showed 50% growth rates all =
through the recession of 2001, unlike the traditional server segments =
which were flat or declined. The thermal packaging technology which can =
pack a workstation into a notebook, also works well in the military =
area, a market which is currently growing. The same goes for appliances. =
So Tadpole's hardware business is engaged in several high growth, high =
margin market segments. That's why they're #1.=20
    =20


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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D5 align=3Dleft border=3D0>
  <TBODY>
  <TR>
    <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft bgColor=3D#ffffcc><B>T</B>he <A=20
      href=3D"http://www.sparcproductdirectory.com/">SPARC Product =
Directory</A>=20
      has been used by buyers, pre-sales support people, systems =
integrators and=20
      marketers for over 10 years. It currently includes links to around =
700=20
      companies which are focused on selling SPARC compatible hardware. =
It also=20
      includes another 3,000 external links to other other types of =
companies=20
      which provide services, software or market information which might =
be of=20
      interest to our readers. But which are the ones which really =
matter?=20
      <BR><BR>I analyzed pagviews on company profiles in the period =
leading up=20
      to the end of Sun's 4th quarter (ending June 30) to see what our =
readers=20
      have been looking at, and to try and understand why. There were a =
few=20
      surprises. I hope you find this a useful insight into what's going =
on in=20
      the world of SPARC.</TD></TR>
  <TR>
    <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft bgColor=3D#ffffcc>
      <TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D10 align=3Dleft border=3D0>
        <TBODY>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft><B>Rank</B></TD>
          <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft><B>Editor's Comments (unless =
indicated=20
            otherwise)</B></TD></TR>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft>1</TD>
          <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft><B><A=20
            =
href=3D"http://www.sparcproductdirectory.com/sparcbook.html">Tadpole</A><=
/B><BR><BR>"We're=20
            delighted with this recognition of the Tadpole brand and the =

            company's relationship with Sun Microsystems' and its =
technologies,"=20
            says Graham Brown, president of Tadpole's portable UNIX and =
server=20
            businesses. "Tadpole is focused on extending the enterprise=20
            applications of UltraSPARC and Solaris technologies as =
complementary=20
            solutions to those of Sun Microsystems', and in applying its =

            expertise developed over many years to increasingly complex =
and=20
            challenging applications of the SPARC business-critical=20
            platform."<BR><BR>Editor:- If you look at Tadpole today, =
knowing=20
            nothing about its history, you may be tempted to think it's =
a shiny=20
            new company which just got lucky. But luck had nothing to do =
with=20
            top billing in our reader interest rated feature. =
<BR><BR>The smiths=20
            of old knew that to make a sword of iron which would both =
keep its=20
            blade sharp, but would not be easily broken in battle, it =
would have=20
            to be forged first in a red hot fire and beaten with a =
hammer. Then=20
            while the metal was still glowing it should be quenched in =
cold=20
            water. Analysts who've followed Tadpole would probably say =
they've=20
            been through that process, and that's why they look so good =
today.=20
            <BR><BR>I first came across Tadpole as a user in the 1980's =
when=20
            they made a VMEbus card for one of the first RISC chips, the =
<A=20
            =
href=3D"http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/teaching/notes/PARALLEL/INTRO/INTRO430.=
HTM">transputer</A>=20
            from Inmos. They reappeared in my radar in the 1992 edition =
of the=20
            SPARC Product Directory, with their SPARCbook, the world's =
first=20
            SPARC portable. <BR><BR>Then for several years the company =
seemed to=20
            go through a difficult period, first seeing off Sun's own=20
            unsuccessful foray into SPARC portables, and then having to =
meet=20
            with competition from another SPARC portable maker called =
RDI=20
            Computer. In the mid 1990's Tadpole diversified its portable =
family=20
            into other architectures including HP's PA RISC and then =
Intel.=20
            That's when the company got roasted and I wondered if it =
would=20
            survive. They looked like a classical technology company =
which was=20
            weak in marketing. They were stretched too thin in markets =
which=20
            looked similar from the technology point of view, but which =
had non=20
            overlapping VAR channels and customers. <BR><BR>There were a =
lot of=20
            changes in the company's marketing personnel at that time. =
Quickly=20
            the company dropped its Intel notebooks, and admitted that =
the Sun=20
            market was where it had to be successful. Competition for =
SPARC=20
            portables came from many sources. In addition to RDI's SPARC =

            challenge, there were VARs selling preloaded Solaris X86 =
portables=20
            which nibbled away at some low end applications Also the =
early=20
            generations of Sun's SPARCstations like the IPX were =
physically as=20
            small as a portable and could be used as low cost luggables. =
Was the=20
            market really big enough to support all these ways of =
solving the=20
            same problem? The answer at the time was no. But then =
Tadpole seemed=20
            to change and start talking more about marketing. Sun's =
workstations=20
            got faster and bigger, and could no longer be used as =
luggables.=20
            That still left RDI...<BR><BR>In October, 1998 Tadpole =
acquired RDI=20
            and the best products from each company were retained. But =
was that=20
            really a big enough market? In November 2000 Tadpole =
acquired Cycle=20
            Computer, the leading supplier of motherboard upgrades for =
SPARC=20
            workstations, and an emerging supplier of rackmount SPARC =
systems. I=20
            thought that was very significant and <A=20
            =
href=3D"http://www.sparcproductdirectory.com/view8.html">wrote an=20
            article about it at the time.</A><BR><BR>The portable =
computer=20
            market for all architectures grew last year (both Wintel and =
SPARC).=20
            More recently Sun's announcement that it was dumping Solaris =
X86 may=20
            have driven a few more customers in the direction of SPARC=20
            notebooks, because the cheaper alternatives were now a dead =
end.=20
            Also the rackmount segment showed 50% growth rates all =
through the=20
            recession of 2001, unlike the traditional server segments =
which were=20
            flat or declined. The thermal packaging technology which can =
pack a=20
            workstation into a notebook, also works well in the <A=20
            =
href=3D"http://www.sparcproductdirectory.com/military.html">military</A> =

            area, a market which is currently growing. The same goes for =

            appliances. So Tadpole's hardware business is engaged in =
several=20
            high growth, high margin market segments. That's why they're =

        =
#1.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV></BODY></HTM=
L>

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