Feeds

Sun: Let us now praise the ponytail

Could you have done better than McNealy and Schwartz?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

The end of Sun Microsystems as an independent systems company has been met with a mixture of "I told you so" and "good riddance". But as someone who spent plenty of time at Sun over the past decade - including the dot com years - I wonder if anyone could have played a better hand?

Schwartz and McNealy succeeded in stemming the haemorrhage of Sun's user base, preserving most of the company's R&D investment, and ultimately delivering a handsome deal to shareholders. The latter is what CEOs are actually paid to do - not clean your car, or cure malaria.

(Or as our Ashlee put it here, "replace data centers with jellybeans and justice").

Giving McSchwartz credit isn't always easy. Would a grown man, in full possession of his marbles, really write "If the Information Age was passive, the Participation Age is active" and give the blog post the name "inevitability"? Hubris beckons. For any reporter, it was hard to keep up with Sun's desktop strategy. In a mere three years, it shifted from emphasising the thin-client SunRays, to its own Linux ("Java Desktop System"), to giving away a souped-up Solaris for x86.

(In 2002, Sun had axed Solaris for Intel and it took pressure from customers to revive it. By 2005, it was a key strategic asset again, and today, you can buy Dell Poweredge servers with Solaris).

My esteemed colleague Chris Mellor thinks Sun could never decide which company it wanted to be - a proprietary SPARC vendor or a commodity Intel vendor. But that dilemma has faced not only Sun, but every proprietary hardware company, for every day since the ascendence of Intel in the early 1990s. (Remember that even Microsoft didn't bet the farm on Intel, making sure NT ran on MIPS, Alpha and PowerPC chips, all of which were superior at the time, and looked like they would endure). It's really the same challenge Sun posed to minicomputer makers in the 1980s with Unix. Most of those competitors were sold for scrap, not $7.4bn. The mighty SGI fetched just $25m recently.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.