Sun Microsystems: R.I.P.

Posted on April 20, 2009

Sun’s board has achieved its goal of whoring the company. The odd thing about it is that rather than selling to a hardware business such as IBM or HP or Dell or even Cisco, out of the blue came Oracle to seal the deal. So, if you haven’t yet heard the news: “Sun and Oracle today announced a definitive agreement for Oracle to acquire Sun for $9.50 per share in cash. The Sun Board of Directors has unanimously approved the transaction. It is anticipated to close this summer.”

There is no way for me to take this positively. Many of you, loyal readers, know that I tend to err on the side of idealism; frequently to my peril. Rather than seeing an acquisition as a way to save Sun, I rather see it as the final failure of Sun’s board of directors and the leadership of Jonathan Schwartz.

Jonathan is himself idealistic, which has always drawn me to his banner. I’ve frequently taken exception to criticism against him… because I believe in what he wanted to do. However, I can no longer avoid the inevitable conclusion that his inability to execute has killed my beloved company.

Frankly, I see this as complete cowardice. Sun needed to make radical changes to its business.. but rather than do so they opted to ride it out and wait for someone else to make the tough choices. While this may be the best choice for shareholders, its tough for those close to the business to take. In years time people will be speaking about Sun the same way we currently talk about DEC. Will the Sun brand die? Maybe not. Will Sun’s products be more prominent than ever? Quite possibly…. but it won’t be the same company.

So is this the end? No, I don’t think so… quite the opposite, I see it as a new beginning. I’m simply angry that Oracle is going to do the work that the Sun Board of Directors failed to do; damn the shareholders (of which I am one).

One of the inevitable consequences of this sort of deal is that sales are going to grind to a halt for a season. For instance, I’m super excited about the new Intel X5500 powered Sun Fire X4275… 12 3.5″ drives, Sun SSD, ILOM, Intel Networking… its a killer!

…. but what will become of the Sun X86 line? Do I want to buy a bunch of boxes that may not have a future? I’m not putting my money on that bet.

As for Oracle… this is what scares me. To this very day, Oracle 11g is not available for Solaris/X64! Oracle has completely ignored Solaris/X64 for some time now. Combined with Oracle’s promise to put Sun’s margins in order, suggests a new life for SPARC. While I think the better future is to push Oracle 11g RAC on Sun X64 systems that may not be in the cards.

What will happen? There is a lot of speculating I can do, but I’m going to wait for details. It’s like being a 20 year old kid living away from home and the parents have shown up unexpected, and you know you’re in deep shit but not sure what’ll happen next. Parties over, thats for damned sure.