Linked by fran on Wed 8th Dec 2010 23:11 UTC
Oracle and SUN In an interview that gives some deeper insight into the fall of the company, ex Sun boss Scott McNeally talked to Gavin Clarke of The Register. "Sun was the fastest growing US company between 1985 and 1989, according to Forbes, and supplied the entire US government with more than half its workstations nine years after starting."
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Clueless
by segedunum on Thu 9th Dec 2010 08:45 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

Solaris could and would have eaten Linux's business, McNealy believes.

Given that they were reacting to Linux all the time then this was never, ever going to happen except in McNealy's fantasies. Linux was the low cost 'Unix' that ran on x86 that all the Unix vendors had feared for a long time, and simply hoped would never happen, and it had the device drivers to do it where Solaris never had.

There's a few other bits and pieces in there where he effectively tries to blame open source for Sun's predicament. Sun really were clueless as to what to do, and still are. The rot set in long before Sun tried to open source anything and now McNealy is trying to pontificate to Oracle.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Clueless
by sdhays on Thu 9th Dec 2010 14:31 UTC in reply to "Clueless"
sdhays Member since:
2007-03-13

That was what struck me as well. According to the article, which really doesn't have much in the way of reporting other than what spewed from McNealy's mouth, Sun was able to opensource most of Solaris in 1994. Why did they sit on that for 10 years?

They didn't see the benefits of the opensource community until lots of others had shown the way and had already carved out a space.

And what was that ridiculous line about Ayn Rand? "McNealy's a capitalist, sure — while he's never read Atlas Shrugged, McNealy cites its author Ayn Rand as his mentor while he was growing up". What does it mean when you consider someone a mentor even when you haven't read their work? I wonder if I could mark Djikstra down as my "mentor" on my resume even though I've never met him and even if I really didn't know what he worked on.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Clueless
by segedunum on Thu 9th Dec 2010 23:12 UTC in reply to "Clueless"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Oh yer, and he thinks Ayn Rand is great. That's always a "Danger Will Robinson" statement that you can pick out.

Reply Score: 2

Not a completely bad piece of writing
by Luminair on Thu 9th Dec 2010 13:04 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

At least after I edited it:

In 1998 Scott McNealy testified in front of a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on whether Microsoft held a monopoly, just ahead of the DoJ's case. He appeared with Bill Gates. McNealy — a fiery capitalist — famously branded Microsoft a monopolist whose control of Windows was killing innovation.

"The only technology I'd rather own than Windows would be English," McNealy told Congress in his testimony. "All of those who use English would have to pay me a couple hundred dollars a year just for the right to speak English. And then I can charge you upgrades when I add new alphabet characters like 'n' and 't.' It would be a wonderful business."

Looking back, McNealy's feels like a Cassandra whose warnings went unheeded — with the fallout hitting his beloved Sun Microsystems.

"I said it all back then, and now it's all come out in the court documents. [Microsoft] was hugely damaging to Sun, and they got a slap on the wrists," he said. "I feel good as a company we didn't engage in that. I sleep better at night — but not on a yacht!"

Reply Score: 3

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

While I certainly think Microsoft should have been broken up and I don't think the DoJ had any idea what to do really, the difficulty I have with all of these statements was that Microsoft's rivals, including Novell and Sun, were often just bloody incompetent. That's why both have effectively gone bust.

Sun had umpteen bites at the cherry. They didn't get a low cost workstation and OS out because they were happy to keep charging people stupidly exhorbitant prices. When others came in with something cheaper they whinged and pig headedly still told people their own more expensive stuff was better. They did that right until the bitter end. They didn't move the desktop on and do something about CDE because they were happy to charge a ton of money for crap, thinking it would stay that way. That was the eighties. The only thing that improved desktops on various Unixes into the nineties when everyone was so pissed off with the situation was open source projects taking the matter into their own hands.

They had yet another bite at the cherry in the nineties with Java. Microsoft were absolutely scared stiff of Java and they could have done nothing about it if Sun had turned it into a brilliant development platform for desktops independent of the OS (effectively a new desktop on a desktop) and created some brilliant paid-for development tools. They didn't. They created endless commitees, licensed Java to Microsoft and others who were always going to butcher it and other stupid things that said that they didn't have a clue where to go with Java.

Edited 2010-12-09 23:23 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Kebabbert Member since:
2007-07-27

They had yet another bite at the cherry in the nineties with Java. Microsoft were absolutely scared stiff of Java and they could have done nothing about it if Sun had turned it into a brilliant development platform for desktops independent of the OS (effectively a new desktop on a desktop) and created some brilliant paid-for development tools. They didn't. They created endless commitees, licensed Java to Microsoft and others who were always going to butcher it and other stupid things that said that they didn't have a clue where to go with Java.

Sun tried to standardize Java back then. But was hindered. By MS. The reason? MS said it was unhealthy that one single company got that much power over a standard. You want to see a link that confirms this?

Funny now that MS is exactly in the same situation with lots of power over OXML. Which must be avoided, according to MS.

When others do it, it is not good. When MS does the same thing, it is good.

Reply Score: 2

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Sun tried to standardize Java back then. But was hindered. By MS. The reason? MS said it was unhealthy that one single company got that much power over a standard. You want to see a link that confirms this?

Bollocks. This is an excuse, plain and simple and standardisation was not what Java needed. Whenever you see a company trying to 'standardise' and 'partner' it's because they don't know what to do next. Microsoft never needed to be involved, but for whatever reason Sun licensed it to them. Java needed to be made into a top notch client development environment, nothing less. Anything else was a total waste of time. Did you not read what I wrote?

If Sun had done that the world would probably be a bit of a different place because Java had more momentum in the late nineties than any development platform Microsoft has ever put out.

Reply Score: 2

bornagainenguin
Member since:
2005-08-07

A: Strike while the Iron is hot.

"McNealy decided to act in 1993, just before the only person holding the most influence over the matter prepared to step down from his position of power. Ray Noorda was CEO of Novell, the company that bought the Unix trademark from AT&T along with Unix Systems Laboratories — the AT&T subsidiary formed out of AT&T's Bell Labs. McNealy said he telephoned Noorda, and in the course of a week negotiated a deal that gave Sun rights equivalent to ownership over Unix, and valued at $90m. Noorda left Novell a year later, and Novell transferred the Unix trademark to industry group X/Open whose members included Sun. Rights equivalent to ownership gave Sun more freedom to work with the code.

...

"We had some execs who kept saying: 'We are not going to do Solaris on Intel.' I said: 'Time out, yes we are'. And they'd say: 'We are not going to do Solaris on Intel' and I'd say: 'Time out, yes we are' until we got rid of them. That was probably bad leadership on my part."
"

Like the previous commentator said, Sun could have gone OpenSolaris on Intel way back in 1994, at a time when most people had never heard of Linux. They chose to dig their heels in and it is no one's fault but their own they were out-innovated by others who both saw and grasped the opportunities available.

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 1

Sun had so many problems
by HunterA3 on Fri 10th Dec 2010 20:27 UTC
HunterA3
Member since:
2005-10-19

mainly their problems were as follows:

Microsoft
RedHat
HP
Compaq
Dell
IBM
Linux
2001 dotcom bubble
Fujitsu/Amdahl

Opensourcing their programs would have had little impact on their success or failure. What would have helped was Solaris on x86, cheaper and more reliable hardware, and having their own service support staff rather than outsourcing it to lower paid and under trained field engineers from companies indifferent to their cause.
Instead they left the other vendors to creep in using truly standard hardware and more readily available operating systems. Then they partially conceded their mainframe business to Fujitsu and that was the death knell.

Now the only things that keeps them afloat (apart from Oracle) is their StorageTek tape library business, Java, Solaris, and a niche server market (partially propped up by their partnership with Fujitsu).

Reply Score: 1

RE: Sun had so many problems
by nt_jerkface on Sat 11th Dec 2010 02:20 UTC in reply to "Sun had so many problems "
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

What would have helped was Solaris on x86,


I would have put that at #1.

McNealy was making one-liners about x86 even when it was clear that billion dollar companies like Google had no intention of switching to Sparc.

The guy couldn't shake x86 hatred out of his system and that is what killed the company.

But that is lame how the author took my underpants gnome analogy.
http://www.binplay.com/2009/09/suns-best-buy-ever.html
http://tmrepository.com/trademarks/underpantsgnomesstrategy/

Ripping off a blogger, what a hack.

Edited 2010-12-11 02:31 UTC

Reply Score: 2

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Update: they changed it, nevermind.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Sun had so many problems
by segedunum on Sun 12th Dec 2010 17:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Sun had so many problems "
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Yer. It's just a pity the underpants gnone analogy is bollocks itself as well.

It's merely an analogy that gives Microsoft and other prorietary software vendors reassuring warm fuzzies about their business model. This conveniently paints over the fact that the value is in resource sharing, even amongst competitors (something Sun was never going to do because it was all an act), and that 20% of the Linux kernel, as an example, is developed by people who have no company affiliation such as those in academia.

Reply Score: 2