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September 30, 2009



Going back to its boom days, Sun got remarkably organized in its integration of acquired companies into its culture-- accurately characterized as egalitarian and academic. Sun's adoption of work-from-home policies has saved them millions in day-to-day operations costs, and enabled them to make very lucrative real eastate sales. But internally, Sun is remarkably disorganized when it comes to product management, marketing, and market awareness. Their continuing generation of gee-whiz stuff, e.g. ZFS, are technology answers for which there was no question. Their systems management efforts-- for product after product-- are technology silos that need to be separately managed via different protocols and tools. Their integration of acquired technologies (with notable exceptions for multi-processor/core support around AMD) offers endless case studies in how to kill good ideas via benign neglect.

As a former Sun purchaser, employee, and now outsider, I agree with your sentiment: my gut says it's a shame to see Sun dismantled. But what's there-- especially in Sales-- has been the very definition of disfunctional for years. Historically, VARs have been made to fight with each other to drive to a lower bottom line costs-- frequently at the expense of internal Sun teams who struggle to support the deals that were sold.

Sun has never had a shortage of Sales personnel. And there are clearly some gems among them; however losses among those ranks are like hacking at ivy or kuzdu. The Sales:Support ratio has always been upside down-- Sun has always been an amry trying to sell you, and a vacuum of support unless you buy T&M. With that model, there is no compelling reason internally for Sun to try harder to integrate supportability into their products and solutions: Dell and HP have rightly eaten their lunch.

Lots of friends and colleagues remain at Sun, and there are loads of smart people still there. But there remains a true vacuum of decisive leadership. Was there ever a larger meadow of fat lambs?

20+ years of watching Oracle leaves one certain conclusion: Does a lion feel sorry for a lamb? For Sun to survive -- a highly questionable proposition itself-- the herd needs thinned. Ellison is the guy to do it.

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