Top 10 things I’ll miss about Sun Microsystems

Today was a big day, and not just because of Apple’s iPad launch.

After writing more than my fair share of stories about Sparc, SunFire and the Java Community Process, I wanted to salute a company that fought hard in extremely difficult times. This list is dedicated to former Sun Microsystems of Canada communications executive Susan Stuart and former Maverick PR Sun account rep Geoffrey Morgan.

10. Scott McNealy’s Top 10 Lists: This blog post is, of course, an homage to the many David Letterman-style keynote addresses the Sun co-founder delivered, often in a style that wouldn’t be out of place on late-night television. I also used to enjoy McNealy’s occasional use of a Magic 8-ball to help suss out trends within the IT industry.

9. JavaOne: Some great times at this developer confab, which usually ran around the June timeframe in San Francisco. It’s possible they’ll carry on for a couple of years, but I can’t imagine there won’t eventually be a need to integrate it with a larger Oracle Appsworld type of event eventually.

8. James Gosling’s profile: Sun was always proud of the Canadian who helped create a programming language that involved every part of its software strategy. Will James Gosling be headlining other Oracle Openworld keynote tracks? I doubt it.

7. Jonathan Schwartz’s Weblog: He signed off rather cryptically, and promised to rehost the blog elsewhere, but it won’t be the same. Schwartz was the only CEO of a major technology vendor to embrace blogging so enthusiastically, and write with a verve that put both journalists and industry analysts to shame. There was great leadership in his attempt to communicate the company strategy so consistently using this medium.

6. Oracle-free Sun gear: Although Oracle was always a strong partner for Sun, it wasn’t the only one. JavaOne would regularly see speakers from the likes of IBM, Apache, and even Microsoft take the stage and discuss how they were providing applications for Sun’s burgeoning infrastructure platform. Can’t see much of that happening within the Oracle sphere.

5. The logo: Oracle may keep it, but such things tend to get buried underneath the mother brand over time. It was simple, symmetrical and a great shade of purple.

4. The StarOffice sales pitch: It was always good for a laugh.

3. Project Blackbox: I’m not sure if Oracle will keep the modular data centre or not, but I always found something about the idea of an enterprise equivalent of a grammar school portable kind of cute.

2. Johnathan Schwartz’s ponytail: Because no one else in the senior ranks of IT has one.

And the No. 1 thing I’ll miss about Sun Microsystems is:

1. The attitude: Whether it was bashing Microsoft, boldly trying to reclaim Wall Street or taking on any number of industry Goliaths, Sun always positioned itself as completely fearless. Oracle has attitude too, but given its size and scope now it can’t really be considered an underdog. Sadly for Sun, it seems this particular underdog has had its day.



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