Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Into the West - sad to see the Sun set
A number of people have been asking me what I think, as an ex-Sun-employee, of the acquisition of Sun by Oracle.
I am mostly sad. I really liked Sun as a company. In the beginning of my career, I was a heavy user of Sun technology, from Sun workstations and servers to, when it came out, Java. And don't forget NFS. And Open Office. And and... Then I was honored to become an employee at Sun, and regardless of how we fared, I always felt that the company's heart was in the right place, and they did things with passion and intelligence.
Oracle, at least from the outside, just isn't like that. The culture, as I experienced as a competitor at Sybase and from talking to those who have been there, is aggressive and competetive. I'm sure that's served them very well, but that's just not my style. When I was in junior high school in Colorado, soccer was played for the most part by Vietnamese and Koreans. I played soccer both because I loved it and because it was (at that time) just a bunch of friends getting together to have fun. Baseball and football were ruthless, competetive, and not much fun.
I quit playing soccer in high school when someone from the opposing team came at my head with his feet (I was the goalie) and with a malicious grin on his face. Thanks, but no thanks. It just wasn't worth it to me.
I see Oracle as a place where baseball and football are played. Yes, you are successful, but it's not my idea of fun.
Perhaps companies like Sun can't really succeed in the business world. Perhaps you have to be ruthless and aggressive and competetive, both inside and outside your organization. Perhaps a culture like Sun's only does well in the small - small businesses, small goals, maybe even staying private instead of going public.
But regardless, I'll be sad to see Sun and it's Most Excellent culture and products be subsumed into Oracle. It's the end of an age - the elves are all leaving Middle Earth... :) So long, Sun...