What Sun Microsystems meant to me


I have just read a few articles regarding Oracle finally destroying what was left of Sun Microsystems after Oracle’s purchase in 2010.

I worked at Sun since 1989, December 8th to be specific. When I joined Sun we were hiring people at a rate of 500 a month. Huge expansion, and it looked like there was no stopping Sun Microsystems at the time. Eventually the tech bubble burst, and Sun was no longer swimming in money.

For me it was an exciting experience, I had very little exposure and understanding of Unix. Sun’s operating system Solaris was based on BSD Unix (Berkley Software Distribution), and I had 6 months after I was hired to become a Certified Solaris Administrator. I did accomplish that, and it was foundational to where my career was heading (not that I knew it at the time).

I was with the company for 16 years, 13 Sun only and then 3 years with Oracle/Sun. I was very proud to be working at Sun. I learned so much about IT/Technology, High Touch Customer support/advocacy, and Knowledge Management. When we heard that Sun was looking for a company to buy them, most of us hoped for the best. IBM was the contender most of us hoped would step in and bring profitability back to Sun.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case. Oracle ponied up the 7+ billion dollars, and closed the deal. I was excited, hoping that Oracle could bolster/improve Sun’s cash flow.

Then Oracle did something funny, no, not haha funny, but funny like “You shouldn’t drink or eat that because it smells funny.” It was not the time to drink the Kool Aid.

In looking back now, it was like Oracle purchased an amazing skyscraper in New York, or Chicago. Then they started some remodeling… which is completely understandable. But then someone decided to demolish the building and give the bricks and steel i-beams to scrappers.

Oracle wasted billions of dollars purchasing Sun for no reason, and then happily gutted, filleted and dumped it in the trash. No leveraging the amazing technology and talent that Sun possessed. Oracle could have done some really amazing things, but as I learned when I started working for Oracle that W.O.W. was a common acronym: Way Oracle Works. It’s like saying “it is what it is”.

Some people may say that Google is Evil incarnate, but for me real Evil is Oracle. They will continue on, and people like me will just have our good memories of a technology company that was cool, imaginative, and encouraged innovation. And we will try to forget how that all came down like a slow motion train on fire crashing into a fuel tank farm.

I feel very fortunate to be working for IBM now. Great culture, great tech and a bright future.

The Sun has finally set, I welcome a new day.