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Oracle & Sun Microsystems
Take one of the most established players in the enterprise software industry and merge it with one of the most established players in enterprise hardware, you get one hell of of combination, right?
Well, maybe not.
Sun Microsystems, once the darling of Silicon Valley, started to experience problems in the mid-2000's when the emergence of commodity Linux x86-based servers, the rise in popularity of Open Source software and pressure from other high-end enterprise systems vendors such as IBM and HP began to erode much of the company's core server business.
To counteract this downward trend, the company began to embrace a more Open Source philosophy with projects such as Opensolaris, OpenOffice and Glassfish, and began to acquire Open Source software firms such as MySQL AB, VirtualBox and sponsor external Open Source projects such as Xen, which became the foundation for their xVM virtualization product line.
Unfortunately, many of these efforts were too late to save the company, and it became obvious in 2009 that the only route for the company's survival was that of being acquired by a much larger competitor.
IBM, Fujitsu and HP were thought to be the prime candidates, but in a last minute and completely unexpected move, Oracle came in with the winning bid for about $7.2 billion including buying off the company's debt.
What followed was to be expected. Thousands of employees lost their jobs, and many of the Open Source efforts that Sun began were quickly extinguished, including OpenSolaris. The OpenOffice project effectively disbanded and regrouped under the Document Foundation as LibreOffice, and the founding MySQL team forked into a number of different projects.
Under Oracle's leadership, Sun's core hardware business has continued to decline dramatically. To recoup the losses, Oracle filed patent lawsuits against Google for allegedly using their Java intellectual property in their Android operating system, which uses virtual machine software called Dalvik that emulates the programming syntax of, but is not compatible with Java.
Oracle asked the courts for billions of dollars in damages in the hopes of turning their Sun lemon into lemonade. If Oracle had succeeded in collecting substantial damages from Google, it would have made its investment in Sun a smart one.
But as we know now, Oracle's damages by Google were deemed to be zero, and the company collected effectively nothing as a result of its ligitation and is currently awaiting appeal.
If that appeal turns out to be fruitless, then the Oracle acquisition of Sun will probably go down in history as one of the biggest strategic blunders by a technology company of all time.
Either way you look at it, between the mass layoffs of talent, extinguishing of Sun's open source corporate culture and its attempt at weaponizing Java against Google, Sun has become anything but an honest woman under Oracle's stewardship.