Now with the EU approval coming the curtains have started coming down on the acquisition soap opera that has been going one for the past year or so. There are still a couple of regulatory approvals pending from Russia and China but the major hurdles have been crossed so that the assimilation process by Oracle can begin in earnest. This is good news for all SUN customers and users as the uncertainities end and roadmaps start to be delivered.
With this a decades long fantastic story of innovation and technical brilliance comes to an end, SUN as we have known it begins to set. Hopefully Oracle will keep the core essence alive and we will continue to see great developments happen on the most popular SUN platforms, Solaris, Java, Systems etc. Hopefully we will continue to see the opensource efforts continue and OpenSolaris community, source bases continuing to flourish.
It is both a time of relief and sadness for me seeing the acquisition process finally moving forward. I am proud to have been among the privileged denizens of the hallowed portals of this great organization. I worked for SUN for 4.5 yrs leaving it in the middle of 2008. Those years were probably the most exciting and fulfilling years of my career that I have had till date and will shine in my memories till the end of my days.
Leaving SUN has been one of the most excruciating decisions I was forced to take till date. It is akin to what an old Oak or Pipul tree might feel if it is transplanted. I was literally torn from my roots. I still cherish the teams and the people I had worked with. The experience at the SUN workplace was so rewarding for me in a host of ways that I essentially regarded it as my second home. I will probably never get to experience such a fascinating workplace again: amazing people, exciting technology and projects, culture of innovation, work life flexibility, efficacy of people management, lack of hierarchy in perception and behavior of management, boundless opportunity to learn, freedom to define and create your own projects and work boundaries. These were some of the unparalleled qualities that I am yet to see anywhere else. My frustrating experience around lack of recognition of my BeleniX work (that provided the foundation for the OpenSolaris distro), towards the fag end of my SUN career was but a tiny fly in an otherwise spotless ointment.
Many will of course will have their own views and ideas on why SUN failed in spite of having some of the best technology talent in the industry. Since I have experienced the place first hand, let me put down a few pet views of my own:
- SUN has been and still continues to be the crucible of brilliant technology innovations but it lacked in business acumen and leadership. In this context I came across this thought-provoking article: http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/anthony/2009/03/what_makes_a_company_the_world.html. I am hopeful of the future of the core SUN technologies under Oracle’s business acumen that SUN direly lacked.
- Pointless acquisitions.
- The OpenSolaris distro and the way some of the community matters have been handled. While the distro has been great for visibility and adoption I personally fail to see the justification of putting crucial time, money and effort into developing an opensource distro without a proper business model. Why would one put their business and top engineering resources into developing something without a revenue model ? Which enterprise customer will be willing to deploy a software from a development trunk into their data centers where they host business critical applications ? I am hopeful of Oracle here again. SUN customers would really like to lay their hands on Enterprise Solaris 11. Of course an opensource distro is needed so SUN should have followed the Fedora -> RHEL model. Empower the community and let it deal with distro things and focus your business resources in doing, ahem, business. There were efforts out of the community like BeleniX, SchilliX and others that could have fit the bill. Obviously BeleniX being my creation I am biased towards it. However BeleniX indeed provided the full foundation of OpenSolaris distro so it could have evolved, at that time, into the community distro variant like Fedora. However it was ignored after the benefits were extracted.
There are many obvious others I have skipped here. Anyway I am looking forward into the future with an expectation that Oracle can recover the market that Solaris and OpenSolaris lost in recent times. Solaris today is probably the most mature and technically capable OS out there in the wild and it deserves to be more widely adopted than it is today. While people only look at the blockbuster ZFS, Dtrace and Zones stuff, it is really full of compelling technologies that together make it a compelling platform: MDB/KMDB, Proctools, Truss, Apptrace, CTF, Resource Management, CIFS, Seamless Real Time extensions, Crossbow networking, I/O Multipathing, SMF and so on. Joerg Moellenkamp has an excellent brain dump of all these “other” features in his open book “Less Known Solaris Features“.