Sunday, April 18, 2010

Winners and Losers in Oracle's Sun Picks

Now that the dust has settled in the Snorcle merger, we can see some of what Oracle has kept and not kept in the Sun portfolio. This is my own set of calls on what were good and bad choices, time will tell if I am right or wrong...

Good Call: Keeping Glassfish 3
There seems to have been little impact on the Glassfish project. It is still open and going strong, Although there have been project management issues in the past (Glassfish2 was buggy and never fixed) in general this is a central enterprise technology in major use. There was some concern that they might suffer from being in competition with Oracle's own database-integrated app server but so far that hasn't seemed to have happened.

Bad Call: Keeping Java FX
Larry, what are you thinking??
The final and ultimate shot in Sun's pointless and already lost battle with Action Script. This is a whole lot like Japan deciding to invest half its GNP in a war effort *after* the bomb fell on Hiroshima. A huge expensive boondoggle that no one but Sun cares about. Even if Sun *could* win this war (which they can't), the entire future of the segment is now under *serious* threat from Apple and Google with HTML5, which basically makes both AS3 AND JavaFX unnecessary.

Good Call: Keeping Sun Labs
Sun Labs is where most of Sun's strength has emanated from. A highly efficient group, they get more done with less man-power then most of Sun.

Bad Call: Screwing with Sun Labs Portfolio
Look at it this way, Larry. Suppose some hairy engineer today had an idea for a brand new, never seen before, language on top of a brand new, never seen before operating environment that he wanted to write for a tiny-device market that didn't exist yet.

What would you say in portfolio review?

That, my friend, was Oak, which later became Java, which you paid HOW much to own???

Think about it.

Bad Call: Screwing with the Sun Culture
I have my ear to the Sun grapevine. You are leaking top talent right now like a rowboat made out of pumice. Why? Because if Sun people wanted to work in an Oracle environment they would've joined Oracle to begin with, not Sun. In case you haven't read yesterdays WSJ, the tech sector is in major hiring mode again. They have lots of options and they are taking them. I suspect you will find them very hard to replace.

Surprise Good Call: Keeping Netbeans
Honestly, I'm on the fence on this one. Two years ago I would've said Eclipse had it beaten dead rights and you should just port whats of value from Netebans to Eclispe plugins and kill it. But Eclipse seems to be running out of steam, weighed down by its own success and a panoply if increasingly incompatible plugins. Meanwhile, Neteabs 6.8 has managed to leapfrog Eclipse to be the better dev environment. It has better support for the most modern language trends and is easier to keep functioning.

Kudos to the Netbeans guys, in any event, for a surprising last-lap come-back.

Good Last Minute Decision Reversal: Keeping Kenai
In a clear last minute reversal of policy, Oracle reversed its position on Sun's competing open source environments, saying they would keep the name but migrate to the Kenai backend.

Good call. OReily's software that runs on has always been a weak player in the field and's greatest weakness. Kenai is a modern hosting site well-integrated with Netbeans. mering the brand and exisiting project base with Kenai's technology is a best-of-both-worlds solution.

Worst Call of All: Buying Sun
I blame this more on the Sun board then on Larry Ellison, honestly. Sun is just not a good culture fit for Oracle and Oracle hasn't learned the IBM lesson that, when you buy a company you are also buying the culture so don't mess with it any more then absolutely necessary.
IBM was a far better culture fit. In the end, the Sun board had a chance with IBM to save all that was good about Sun and threw it away or the sake of 50 cents more a share.

When the dust settles in a few years, oracle will find all they bought was a few by then aging technologies and an aging brand. What was truly valuable about Sun, the holders of future-vision, will have all drifted off to other opportunities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, a company's future value is in it's people and the culture they've evolved.

The current value is only what those people invented in previous years combined with a collection of IP papers.