Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Sun Also Rises And Gets Eaten By Zombies

Have you heard about the boom on Mizar Five
People got to shop to stay alive

They don’t even have policeman one
Doesn’t matter where you been or what you’ve done

Do you have a dark spot on your past
Leave it to my man he’ll fix it fast

Pepe has a scar from ear to ear
He will make your mug shots disappear

You zombie
Be born again my friend
Won’t you sign in, stranger...

Decades ago there was a whole special category of computer called the dedicated workstation.

These were very powerful machines and they were very expensive. They were computers dedicated to one particular type of work: Some were Lisp workstations designed for research in artificial intelligence. Some were graphics machines dedicated to computer-aided design. Others were specialized for photo processing or typesetting or financial research and many other things. These machines typically had custom designed hardware and custom designed software, with all the design considerations focused on the machine’s one particular work context.

Dedicated workstations cost a lot of money but people who worked on them often loved the experience of operating the machine. And dedicated workstations were so powerful that it took decades for general purpose computers to begin to match their functionality.

Now many people may have never even heard of dedicated workstations.

And the death and disappearance of dedicated workstations began with the introduction of the first inexpensive—relatively inexpensive—workstation from Sun Microsystems.

And now Sun Microsystems has died and will disappear too.

Oracle buys Sun Microsystems in $7.4bn deal

Latest in a string of acquisitions for Larry Ellison is likely to have major implications for the IT industry

Graeme Wearden
Monday 20 April 2009 13.49 BST

Sun Microsystems has agreed to be bought by US tech giant Oracle in a $7.4bn (£5.1bn) deal, just two weeks after takeover talks with IBM fell apart.

Oracle announced today that it will pay $9.50 a share for Sun, making the company the latest in a string of acquisitions for Oracle's chief executive Larry Ellison.

Sun's board has unanimously backed the deal, which is likely to have major implications for the IT industry.

Oracle's offer is only slightly more than IBM was proposing to pay. The future of Sun was plunged into uncertainty on 6 April when the IBM talks collapsed.

Oracle, which offers a range of business software including databases, customer relationship management programs and collaboration tools, hopes to conclude the deal by this summer.

"Oracle and Sun have been industry pioneers and close partners for more than 20 years," said Sun chairman Scott McNealy. "This combination is a natural evolution of our relationship and will be an industry-defining event."

Sun, which developed the Java software platform and whose products include Sparc chips, the Solaris operating system and the MySQL open source database, has cut thousands of jobs in recent years as it attempted to reduce costs. Under chief executive Jonathan Schwartz it has pursued an open source strategy, but the company struggled to deliver sufficient revenue growth after the dotcom boom ended.

Some analysts have speculated that Sun could be broken up, with its semiconductor, database and other software arms sold to different players.

Ellison said the deal would allow Oracle to "engineer an integrated system - applications to disk - where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves". This, he claimed, would cut costs while improving performance and security.

In recent years, Oracle has also bought Siebel, PeopleSoft - after a long and bitter battle - and BEA Systems.

Oracle said that net of Sun's cash and debt, the deal is valued at $5.6bn.

Sun Microsystems was a hardware company that also created software. That was a common model in the era of dedicated workstations. Sun’s specialty, however, was making workstations that were not dedicated. They were not as powerful as dedicated workstations, but they were adequate. Their software was not as well designed or as powerful or as pleasant as what was available on dedicated workstations, but it was adequate.

Sun Microsystems built its entire business model around undercutting companies selling great products at high prices by selling adequate products at much, much lower prices.

In the business world—which ultimately rules—adequate is almost always enough.

Sun Microsystems, like a zombie, ate entire markets.

But the same market dynamics that Sun used to kill and eat and prosper came back and devoured Sun.

Desktop computers running consumer operating systems aren’t as powerful as Sun workstations. But desktop computers are adequate and—in terms of purchase price, maintenance costs and obsolescence issues—desktop computers are vastly cheaper for businesses to purchase than Sun workstations.

Sun is dead, purchased by a software company, a database company.

Sun is dead, purchased probably on a whim by one of the most extravagant billionaires on the planet, Larry Ellison.

Larry Ellison is so rich that years back when Apple was having problems Ellison speculated that maybe he would buy Apple using his personal money, not his company’s money, and take Apple private. Larry Ellison is so rich that one time a businessman was invited to a party on one of Ellison’s yachts. As the businessman walked from the dock up the gangway to the yacht a sailor greeted him. The businessmen said something like, “Wow. This is the biggest, most beautiful yacht I’ve ever seen.” The sailor said something like, “This is Mr. Ellison’s shuttle boat. We’ll be taking you out to one of Mr. Ellison’s yachts that’s moored off-shore.”

Sun is dead, and its memory will live on just as a vanity project of a whimsical billionaire.

Eat and be eaten.

Karma drives even the business world.

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