Dibbler's Net

Friday, April 03, 2009

Open letter to Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz (don’t kill Sun)

If the WSJ and other reporting outlets are to be believed then Monday may be the last day of SUN as we have known it. This is an incredibly sad rumor if IBM does buyout Sun. When I first started in computers I was surrounded by IBM with AIX, OS2, and mainframe’s. Over time we saw more Sun systems make it into the corporate world. Over the years I have worked on just about every variety of Unix made. 10 years ago this story wouldn’t have surprised me and might have made sense. However in the past 5 years Sun has really turned around and has become a company of real innovation and growth. Almost daily I visit blogs.sun.com and click on all to scroll through what’s new from an employees perspective. Sun has been continually releasing new software with the new mindset of free or opensource with cost for support, training, or enterprise features. This seems to be working well for them. My fears are similar to what I saw when Symantec bought Veritas. At the time Veritas was king of the hill on many levels of the datacenter. Then when Symantec bought them we saw features drop, employees let go, and the product line ransacked to the point of being a joke. There is no doubt in my mind that if IBM buys Sun we will see the parts that IBM wants folded in and the other 2/3’s be dropped along with the strong talent that Sun has working for them. With the release of opensolaris, free virtualization in both zones and LDOM’s, and a low or no cost software baseline that covers almost every aspect of enterprise needs, there is just nothing that IBM can bring to the table. Sun has been making large leaps in their hardware options as well, becoming highly competitive with almost all other computer makers for the business market. IBM stopped innovating long ago and instead has stuck to a profit line of over charging for old software and weak service.

I don’t see the benefit of this buyout. In the past 5 years I can’t think of any real benefits that have come from the two large company buyout story. It makes sense when the large company buys the small new technology company. That is usually done to help put resources behind a good idea trapped in a small company. However in the cases of large companies it’s more of one company wanting a small part of the other large company and mainly wanting the customer base. There is a big issue with this thinking. IBM and Sun are both large companies that customers already know of. If customers wanted to buy from IBM they would already be customers. Buying the competition does not mean you will get the customers, it only means you will have them for about a year or two as they move to find a new vendor that will meet their needs and not try to buy them.

For the last week I have been thinking about this story, each day I think of another part of Sun that I will miss. I don’t know which vendor will come in to pick up the pieces but in the end I see this as just putting IBM in a more dangerous financial situation and will bring about the conversations about how Sun used to be much like we talk about how UUNet used to be. I have no belief that this comment of mine will make any difference and I was really hoping that this rumor turns out to be false but at this point I have accepted the rumors as true and have started to think about what vendor will I be moving to next. I use Sun hardware and software every day and I will miss the amazing people and the products. Hopefully IBM will not destroy the Sun image and will let it die peacefully but somehow I doubt it.

Sun I will remember you for the company I have known for 20 years. I have seen you beat IBM toe to toe, I have watched you truly morph into a company that had to change to stay alive, and now just when it seems that you are finding your new place in the world it looks like you will be sold, stripped, and left for scrap on the side of the road. To all those Sun employees who I have met and work with I wish you the best and hope that you will land softly. I truly predict that if this purchase goes through we will see 2/3 of the employees let go in the first 2 years and the Sun that we know today will be dead in 3 years. I hope that this doesn’t happen and that this turns out to be a bad rumor but I gave up on lofty dreams in the business world many years ago.

Sun - Feb 24, 1982 to April 6, 2009. Rest in Peace, You will be missed but not forgotten. Timeline


Posted by derrick in • BloggingPersonalUnix
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