While answering an enquiry from a jour, nalist last night, I referred to Sun Microsystems as an example of precipitous decline.

I cast my mind back to 1998-1999 when Sun’s hardware was all the rage. The E10K series servers, capable of accommodating several domains, cost a fortune and you often couldn’t get them when you wanted. Then, newer servers came about, which many customers gladly bought; then, Storage Area Network (SAN) devices, which gave IT Managers the coveted flexibility in data storage management and sent the good old just-a-bunch-of-disks (JBOD) approach into the oblivion.

But then we found that Fujitsu made perfectly compatible hardware at half the price. I suppose, other people did so too, because soon enough, Fujitsu started to make hardware for Sun. Today, we talk about cloud computing and it is clear that hardware is a commodity. It all happened in a space of a few years and Sun has just missed the inflection point in the curve. The rise became a precipitous fall.

There was Java of course and OpenOffice and MySQL, all too little too late. Just ten years ago, Sun Microsystems was larger than life. The once great company was acquired by Oracle a few weeks ago, after half a decade of vacillation.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

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