There is an announcement that was made today that makes many people feel sad, Oracle has agreed to buy Sun for chunk change. While I have never been a huge fan of Sun, mostly because of the Java programming language and a long lasting hatred for it, lately I have become increasingly aware of Sun and its products. Mostly related to OpenSolaris the free and open version of the Solaris 10 operating system. Other products have included the VirtualBox that Sun recently acquired and off course MySQL is still a big part of my life through the websites I manage.
Sun has slowly been declining, they used to be a monolith, a large giant that could stand up against IBM, Microsoft and various other companies. The issue has always been that they did not have a good PR system, they went on word of mouth and by selling to their clientele, they never made it clear what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. Many people have no idea what Sun is doing, what projects they are working on, what they currently own. They have no idea about the innovations in the various products Sun makes, Solaris contains many improvements and ideas that are not available in other operating systems yet. Sun was a company made by programmers for programmers. The clients and the service contracts were secondary.
Selling Sun to Oracle is a cop-out. There is no way around it, Sun could have made radical changes, they could have changed what they offered and used the various projects they owned to create a new streamlined experience that would have given them an edge over the competition. Sun owned a lot of code to do various things and never made it a complete solution, never made it easy to use and even with the tools they had given you had to use 3rd party scripts to set up a basic structure. Most notably setting up a complete solution to do single authentication, much like Microsoft's Active Directory.
The biggest question is what is going to happen to the various products that Sun owns that are open source? Oracle is one of the biggest closed source companies in the world, they don't even allow benchmark tests to be completed against other database systems. What will happen to MySQL, OpenSolaris, GlassFish, VirtualBox, and xVM? Will Oracle close Java again? Will they make it harder for the community to work on OpenSolaris? These questions are what are causing the biggest question marks and there are no good answers. The real answer is we have to wait and see. OpenSolaris is an awesome open source operating system and I will be extremely sad if Oracle takes it down or makes it harder to participate.
I am extremely sad to see Sun Microsystems be sold, they have been around for a long time, what will happen to the brand? All the good people working at Sun, all the projects they own?
(Full disclosure: I currently own Sun Microsystems shares)