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Sun Microsystems Businesses Oracle Technology

Slow Oracle Merger Leads To Outflow of Sun Projects, Coders 409

Posted by timothy
from the bang-but-whimper dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sun Microsystems might have had a chance if the Oracle merger had gone through quickly, but between the DoJ taking its time and the European Commission, which seems to get off on abusing American firms, just plain dragging its feet, that won't happen now. As Sun twists in the wind, unable to defend itself, and Oracle is unable to do anything until the deal closes, IBM is pretty much tearing Sun to shreds. By the time this deal closes, there won't be much left for Oracle. This is not how a Silicon Valley legend should end."
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Slow Oracle Merger Leads To Outflow of Sun Projects, Coders

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  • He's dead, Jim. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday September 03, 2009 @02:42PM (#29302733) Homepage Journal

    This is not how a Silicon Valley legend should end.

    Why not? How, exactly, should a Silicon Valley legend end, like Enron did? Nothing lasts forever.

  • Two different things (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aafiske (243836) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @02:42PM (#29302735)

    There seem to be two points in the article and summary. The one that makes sense is that the slowness of the merger is murdering Sun's business. The other is that the slowness is causing people to leave. I doubt the latter is true. People do not want to work for Oracle, fast merge or slow merge.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03, 2009 @02:44PM (#29302757)

    Maybe, just maybe, this is just a bargaining chip in the under-the-table schmoozing between US and EU that you and I will never know about.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @02:44PM (#29302763) Homepage

    That wouldn't end a sun box

    shutdown -i5 -g0 -y

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sunderland56 (621843) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @02:48PM (#29302835)
    Normally, silicon valley companies end like this:
    • As the company grows, management makes engineering work on boring projects and support issues
    • The top-tier engineers jump ship to newer, smaller companies for more interesting work
    • The company limps along for a while with second-tier engineering
    • The shell of the former company fades into oblivion and/or is bought out
    • The new, exciting companies everyone went to become larger and more successful than the original

    For example, SGI may have died, but nVidia and Mozilla (to name only two) are doing quite well, thanks.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:03PM (#29303123)

    Over the past year we've been looking at enterprise level database platforms. PostgreSQL served us well in development and initial stages of production. Initial consideration was given to SUN, IBM, and Teradata. But it was clear a year ago that SUN's days were numbered. After they started talks with IBM we didn't give SUN much thought after that. Also they lacked a true enterprise level database (sorry MySQL fans, but NDBCLUSTER is still horribly buggy and what we need goes beyond Master/salve replication) & hardware platform and we wanted both from the same vender. Sorry, but I've been in the "It's a hardware problem, no it's a software problem" disputes between venders too many times.

    I know a lot of other businesses who thought the same way once the talks were underway with IBM. Why buy a platform that you don't the future of 6 months from now?

    Which is sort of sad. I worked around Sun machines 12 years ago. We had a few boxes that were from the 1980's running Solaris 2 (or 3 I can't remember now) that were STILL supported. Something went wrong, they sent in the old grey beards to fix it. Same with applications. We had a certified app that broke in Solaris 8 or 9 and Sun sent a team of engineers to help us fix it.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:10PM (#29303223)

    What is motivating the story submitter to put so much unwarranted blame at the feet of the EU and DOJ?

    Maybe because the story submitter notes an ever-increasing pool of businesses based here in the United States find the EU's practices to be biased, unfair, and anti-competitive, despite the stated purpose of the aforementioned is to prevent those things. Well, that's not actually true anymore, since the phrase "free and undistorted competition" was removed by France during negotiations for the Treaty of Lisbon (basically EU Constitution v2.0). In truth, the EU's economic policy objectives sound more like something out of a fantasy novel -- "One Market to Rule Them All?" I only say it half-jokingly. The European Union never got their constitution ratified, so instead they decided to go for a more modest "treaty": One of the main concessions (and reasons for the lack of ratification by the member states) is because they didn't want companies that were points of national pride (read: monopolies) competing equally -- it would cause them to lose face. But they really, really want to wipe that smug look off those damnable americans what with their "global economic superpower," so they keep making concession after concession. The result looks rather like an angry fruit salad -- a juxtaposition of values, culture, and law that sickens those who look at it too long or too closely.

    The fundamental truth of the European Union is this: It's intended to attack the United States' economic dominance. The only thing keeping them from existing on an even footing is the fact that they can't agree on anything! And the Irish-- God bless the Irish. So you get delays like this -- about the only thing the EU can agree on is that americans are a bunch of bastards who don't deserve what they've got (so by god, let's help relieve them of it). Democracy never looked so disorganized.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by countSudoku() (1047544) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:11PM (#29303249) Homepage

    Agreed! The fact is that if this were two oil companies they would have merged by now. Yes, our government is filled with useless, money grubbing, assholes who don't understand anything unless it's fed to them by someone with a large $$ check.
            More to the point; IBM is not "tearing apart Sun". IBM's offerings with their overpriced hardward, ancient lineage and tired AIX (how about a free x86 version, IBM? no, then fuck off!) are yesterday's news. Their role as a supercomputer designer is well played, as is their service offerings with their IBM/GS groups. Not that I would ever want to work for that outfit ever again. I digress. After that, I have a hard time figuring out why anyone would favor IBM's LPARs over the much more efficient, and easier to manager Solaris 10 Zone offering. One that works equally well in the SPARC or x86 version of Solaris 10. No one else comes close to that. Don't get me started on HP... Sun Solaris is a great OS and will be here for quite some time, Oracle, HP or otherwise. Ever heard of ZFS or DTrace? Thought so. Anyone would do well to get to know the Solaris 10 Zones and Solaris 10 in general.
            I will disclose that I am a three-time ex-Sun employee/contractor who has also seen inside the belly of IBM. Solaris will bury AIX. And you can take *that* to the SAN and store it!

  • Life Cycle (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:14PM (#29303289) Homepage
    "This is not how a Silicon Valley legend should end."

    I don't know about that...

    http://astronomyonline.org/Stars/Images/MassiveStarLifecycle.gif

    The only difference here is Sun is now orbiting another star called Oracle which should make things interesting.
  • by LearnToSpell (694184) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:21PM (#29303377) Homepage
    The fundamental truth of the European Union is this: It's intended to attack the United States' economic dominance.

    lulz. That's true of any union. Go look up "softwood lumber," "corn," and "steel," among many, many (many, many, many) other disputes the US is involved in.

    Americans don't seem to realize what a "global economy" truly entails.
  • Re:Oracle is OK (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:25PM (#29303445)
    Oracle is beginning it's own long slow decline. The large apps on the internet are all moving away from RDBMS and into scalable key value stores. Oracle will only get to remain in the G&A aspects of those business, not in the front line internet customer apps. Read 'The Innovator's Dilemma', it is happening to Oracle. Get out while you can.
  • by djnewman (1318661) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:30PM (#29303509)
    I really think it's Capitalism at its best! If Sun had been minding the business store and its marketing plan had been sucessful it would not be being eaten by wolves today. It's not reasonable to blame the EU or IBM either. The EU is looking out for itself (and European citizenry), and IBM is doing its job by killing off the competition.
  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:38PM (#29303601) Journal
    You discuss hardware and software.

    Perhaps you are unaware that IBM is primarily a services company nowadays?

    The hardware and software is a tool to sell services.

    You know that's where Oracle is aiming for growth too, right?

    For all the advantages you see for Solaris over its competition, IBM's service offering is miles ahead of Oracle right now...
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:59PM (#29303871)

    We weren't in Silicon Valley, but our company ended like this: By 1999 we had grown to two offices and about 70 employees, had an award winning retail product and an online mall. We we're still private. After about 5 unsuccessful tries at getting VC, a Canadian company who processed credit card payments offered to buy us for ~$43M USD. They wanted our mall, so that they could make money in about 6 different ways from it. When the sale was announced but not complete, my stock was worth about $1.8M at their current stock price :) Unfortunately, they missed the point that our retail software was what generated the stores in the mall. As soon as the sale went through in 2000, they stopped development and sales of the retail product, laid off about 30% of us, and then gave the remaining people really stupid things to do for about a year while they slowly figured out what went wrong. At this point I was worth about $800K. :| For 6 months all I did was get paid >$100K/yr to drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, and surf the web. Eventually there was a meeting at which they admitted that their business and our business (now basically dead) were irreconcilably different, and announced they were shutting down all US operations. I was on the street Jan 1, 2001, and my stock was now worth $1200 :( Incredibly, when a group of us that had worked on the retail product approached them asking if we could retain the source, trademarks, remaining stock, etc., with the intent of reviving it, we were told that they would never allow us to do this because it "would look bad to the stockholders". As if blowing $43M didn't look bad enough? D'oh!!

  • by samuraiz (1026486) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @04:01PM (#29303901)
    Google is your friend. In Spanish, pluralized words in an acronym double the letter.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vbraga (228124) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @04:02PM (#29303917) Journal

    You should try to read How Software Companies Die [zoion.com] by Orson Scott Card. A short essay on the same subject as GP. Really nice.

  • Re:Oracle is OK (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spinkham (56603) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @04:21PM (#29304115)

    The applications moving to "key value stores" are not the oracle crowd. They're the MySQL crowd.

    Oracle has more to fear from PostgreSQL then they do key-value stores. And they still have the upper hand there in terms of support for quite a while.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EvilAlphonso (809413) <meushi@slashdot.gmail@com> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @04:41PM (#29304375) Journal

    My experience working in Sun Services, taking care of Gold and Platinium level customers...

    The ECC fiasco with the Blackbirds and following revisions was the bookcase example of how not to treat your customers. Customers were lied to, then lied to some more, then received defective pulls as replacement after 2 errors on the same CPU, then lied some more. Until the scrubber patch got released, my average customer had 2 CPU swaps per week.

    Receiving defective pulls for customers was the norm rather than the exception... sometimes the customer's own defective parts from the previous intervention, RMA box still sealed but with a "tested OK" sticker magically applied on top of the red "DEFECTIVE" sticker. This applied to disks, memory, CPUs, motherboards... all parts really. Making things worse, the standard procedure was to have the parts delivered directly at the customer... so the engineer didn't get a chance to check for DOAs beforehand.

    In the end, the only trick was to order a batch of replacement parts in the hope of having a working one delivered at the customer. Said trick would of course end up damaging your score for the next evaluation... but so would an unsatisfied customer lodging a complaint for substandard support. I gave up, moved to Professional Services then to Pre-sales before leaving.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by catmistake (814204) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @04:47PM (#29304459) Journal

    I will disclose that I am a three-time ex-Sun employee/contractor who has also seen inside the belly of IBM. Solaris will bury AIX. And you can take *that* to the SAN and store it!

    I can appreciate your perspective, but seems to me that AIX is ingrained in a lot of places for the foreseeable future. Remember when IBM pulled AIX c.2001 and replaced it with linux, and the admins in the trenches bitched and moaned? They brought AIX back real quick. IBM has some incredible talent still building AIX, and its still and has been 4ever a solid stable platform. Maybe linux has caught up (ok, its probably caught up), but I doubt AIX admins would seriously consider it an alternative. Solaris is a great OS, but its uptimes were dependant upon Sun hardware just as much, and in recent years Sun's hardware has been getting chincier... and now that Oracle will hold the reigns, I wonder if what you claim is even possible.

  • Re:Oracle is OK (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03, 2009 @05:27PM (#29304929)

    Statistical analysis and data mining is _exactly_ what MapReduce and its ilk are supposedly for. You have to totally rethink the architecture of your system, which is is a nice barrier to entry for Oracle, but the threat is real. I agree though that billing will be an Oracle stronghold for a long long time to come. And being the cash register for big businesses is a nice position to be in.

  • by Znork (31774) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @05:28PM (#29304943)

    I'm sure others with more familiarity with EU politics could name other examples.

    There are examples both ways; for example, the Volvo/Scania merger that was rejected. European companies get their fair share of spankings, and I haven't seen any exceedingly obvious bias, just a bit more commitment to the 'competition' part of the free market. That in itself might create an appearance of a bias if US companies have a stronger desire to grow to larger market share through acquisitions, but it might not be a reflection of preferential treatment. I'm not saying it's not possible, but I'd have to see some more thorough statistics to agree there's an actual bias.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by catmistake (814204) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @05:34PM (#29305015) Journal

    but ever since the rise of Linux as a viable alternative to Unix, Sun has been floundering about looking for a viable business model.

    That wasn't it. Sun's failures have less to do with linux and probably more to do with marketing taking over the company and messing with the expensive, but rock solid, hardware their clients came to trust -- and replacing them with cheaper variants. When they did this they gambled their niche for larger margins, and they lost. The "rise of Linux" wouldn't even make it as a footnote in the story of the fall of Sun. Linux may have been on servers 10 years ago, but these installations were a joke compared to AIX and Solaris installations at the time. Only in the last few years has linux even come within striking distance of AIX and Solaris... and no, Linux has not yet surpassed what serious admins have come to expect from AIX and Solaris afa uptimes, i.e. staying up under heavy crushing loads.

  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @05:58PM (#29305253)

    To cite Microsoft alone, was shipping Windows Media Player with Windows a crime?

    Erm.. yes, it might have been, but Microsoft settled out of court [washingtonpost.com] - the court in San Jose that is. I guess that makes it not a crime, technically.

    How much did MS have to pay out to other American companies, $4.6bn last time I looked. So the fact that the EU got involved with dodgy dealings by Microsoft isn't really without cause, and isn't somehow anti-American.

    As for Intel.. they've never been sued by any American company for anti-competitive practices [wikinews.org], have they?

  • logic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @07:16PM (#29305917) Homepage Journal
    There are so many people working in the IT industry who are deficient in basic logic, it should scare you. We don't teach it in schools, it's little wonder so many people are so poor at it. We don't teach the basic logical reasoning fallacies, either. We are paying the price for this educational failure in so many ways.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:14PM (#29306323) Homepage Journal

    This is an issue of selection bias. We only remember the mergers that go poorly.

    Can you name a few medium or large tech mergers that were clearly worth it?
           

  • RDBMS vs key-value (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:24PM (#29306393)

    Ever try to do GIS in a key-value store? Statistical analysis? Data mining? Billing?

    Yes. My RDBMS data models tend to be so highly normalized that they move to be a series of key-value tables.
    Moving to key-value data stores was no challenge at all for my data models. The challenges were in other places.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:26AM (#29308451)

    Random bit-filps in the 8MB cache of USII-450 CPUs originally... which panic'd the host.

    1. The first solution was to lie "we have never seen or heard of that problem"
    2. The second solution was to lie "there might be something wrong with your machine room environment"
    3. The third solution was to lie "the CPU might not be properly seated"
    4. The fourth solution was to replace the CPU if it had encountered two bit-flips, replacing it with the same model
    5. The fifth solution was to replace the CPU with a newer revision sporting 2 mirrored 8MB caches
    6. The final solution was to patch the kernel to scrub the cache and ignore bit-flips.

    Somewhere in that process, customers had to sign a NDA in order to continue having support.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wo ... m minus caffeine> on Friday September 04, 2009 @09:30AM (#29310215)
    Except that unlike U.S. private insurers, the government won't deny you insurance because of pre-existing conditions or deny payment because you gave inaccurate information on your application form. No caps on lifetime expenditure, no loopholes to drop you if they think you're costing them too much.

    You missed my favorite: unlike US private insurers, if you get too sick to work and lose your income, and then can no longer afford your insurance premiums precisely when you need them the most, you don't lose your coverage.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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