back to article Oracle staff report big layoffs across Solaris, SPARC teams

Soon-to-be-former Oracle staff report that the company made hundreds of layoffs last Friday, as predicted by El Reg, with workers on teams covering the Solaris operating system, SPARC silicon, tape libraries and storage products shown the door. Oracle's media relations agency told The Register: “We decline comment.” However, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dammit Larry, you had one mission...

    ...continuing to create new ways to lock in your customers. By owning the hardware, OS, applications, and signing up any and sundry to Cloud to boot. Looks like you took a shotgun to that idea. Synergy can be a thang if you do it right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dammit Larry, you had one mission...

      Oracle lost the America's Cup. Someone had to pay.

      You also understand all that hugging with Trump... so he won't blame a company laying off Americans and offshoring as much work as it can. But probably firing all those leftist Californians is OK, after all...

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Dammit Larry, you had one mission...

      Moving stuff to the cloud makes the OS and hardware somewhat moot. If you don't sell the chips and the OS any more you don't need as many staff.

      That's not to say that I don't think there isn't a business for Solaris but it doesn't seem to be one that Oracle is that interested in. More power to those companies that are investing in stuff like IllumOs, etc.

      For the chips the writing has been on the wall for a while.

  2. HCV

    Phipps didn't say "all". He said:

    Oracle laid off ~ all Solaris tech staff yesterday

    "~ all", as in "approximately all." It's a geek thing, which is appropriate, don't you think?

    1. Shoot Them Later
      Headmaster

      "~ all", as in "approximately all." It's a geek thing, which is appropriate, don't you think?

      I'm not sure I can support "~all" on geek grounds, because "approximately" implies that it could be either above or below. "More than all" doesn't make sense, so if you assume a normal distribution to the error implied by "~", then it's going to be impossible in 50% of cases. Perhaps "->all" would work better, or maybe "< all". Or perhaps just "nearly all".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or perhaps just "nearly all".

        But mere words are so imprecise

  3. kcblo

    Solaris, is that means the end is nigh?

  4. SteveCarr

    Set The Controls....

    ....For The Heart Of The Sun!

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Set The Controls....

      Careful with that Axe Eugene a.k.a Larry.

  5. a_yank_lurker

    Timing

    Leisure Suit Larry picked an interesting weekend - Labor Day Weekend to spring his nastiness. For the unfortunate there is never a good time but to pick the traditional end of summer holidays and the start of the school year seems to be extra vicious.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Timing

      All they care about is to minimize PR issues and shares value impact. If it requires even a bigger blow to those laid off, it will be done anyway. We're going back quickly to older times when workers were just cattle.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        @A/C Re: Timing

        We're going back quickly to older times when workers were just cattle.

        What do you mean "going back to"? For any moderate to large company, workers are just cattle. Why do you think the department that manages them is called "Human Resources"? Staff are just resources to be exploited for as long as necessary and no longer.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "What do you mean "going back to"?"

          Like it or not, in some countries, and in some companies, workers got a fairly better treatment in the second half of the XX century than they had before.

          Yesterday, the NYT featured an article comparing a janitor employed by the old Kodak, who had the opportunity to become the CTO (Gail Evans), and an outsourced janitor working for Apple who will have no such opportunity.

          You may say "ah! but Kodak went bankrupt". Well, let's see if Apple will last a century and more, and will be able to sustain it core business becoming obsolete quickly.

          Now, we are are returning to a XIX century, or even before, "labor relations". Just believing "nothing changed" it's just stupid - a lot has changed and is changing, denying it will just mean approving the changes.

      2. druck Silver badge

        Re: Timing

        Maybe he couldn't wait for Christmas this year.

      3. a_yank_lurker

        Re: Timing

        At too many companies being cattle heading to the slaughterhouse would be a massive improvement in treatment.

    2. I3N
      Trollface

      Re: Timing

      Nobody asked Poland's opinion on September 1st?

  6. AMBxx Silver badge

    Do Oracle fans exist?

    On most articles on El Reg, whether about Microsoft, Google, Linux etc, there is normally someone with a favourable view of the company in question.

    Exception seems to be Oracle. Any Oracle fans out there?

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      Well, I really liked Solaris. Does that count as an Oracle fan?

      Maybe not.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Angel

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      I was a Sun employee at the time of the Oracle takeover. Then I was, very briefly, an Oracle employee: something I'd never have imagined possible 'til it happened.

      Oracle laid me off. Excellent: a payoff for doing what I couldn't have put off for long anyway.

      My opinion of Oracle rose considerably, as they treated me very well through that process. No complaints at all. Well, except regrets over that Sun paycheck. Great employer!

      Anon because ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

        And I was a Sun employee before the Oracle takeover. I was there about a month before getting caught in one of the regularly scheduled 'Cut 5% RIFs'. Got a nice severance package considering I'd barely been there 30 days. Called the other company that had offered me a job at the same time Sun did and asked if I could still accept their offer. They said yes, and I collected two paychecks for a while. As much as I liked that, it didn't offset my feelings about them for axing me like that. Ironically at one time I thought working for Sun would be a pinnacle of my career.

        All the good software devs I knew exited as quickly as they could after the Oracle take-over. I suspect the ones left behind at this point are either the dead wood, or hanging on for the big severance payoff. Back when Sun cut me it was one month plus a week for every year of service. No doubt there are quite a few who will collect a hefty pile of cash. And if they're not the dead wood, they should land jobs pretty quickly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

        Ditto on getting nuked during the Peoplesoft takeover layoffs. It was smooth, quite generous and I was looking to scoot anyway. I was a lot less pissed off at the end than during the takeover.

        To give the Devil his due, aside from "inconsequential details" like costs, maintenance fees, license nitpicking, etc, etc... the Oracle database engine itself is pretty good technology, when compared to other proprietary RDBMSs like MSSQL and DB2. If $$$$ is no object...

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      Any Oracle fans out there?

      Well Sun, I'm sure some bright SPARC will think of someone.

      Seriously, I hope all those affected will move onto something better soon.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      Any Oracle fans out there?

      While I'm sure there are, I don't think that really matters. Companies rarely make decisions on technical criteria when buying Oracle, IBM or whatever. One of the most important things at the moment is how many IT support staff they can sack. Of course, the real risks of handing over so much control to a supplier may take a while to appear by which time it might already be too late…

    5. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      I think the answer to your question is, there's people who are fans of some of Oracle's products, but only the ones that they bought up (eg Solaris) and then ruined (eg OpenOffice).

      I've never heard a good word about their database product, and I wonder if anyone would use it if they weren't locked in.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      Ex-fan.

      Certified as Oracle dev, Admin, Java dev... and fan of their Database.. but not their policies.

      In the past I had very good deals with them.. we went to the customers either as a team or as a "hidden" team, so we would recommend the hardware and software they wanted to sell, and our services and solutions, and when asked about it, they would recommend us. Of course, we would get a bit of money for that.

      Then they stopped giving as the money for essentially selling their stuff.

      After that, at some point they wanted money FROM us to sell THEIR stuff. So we dropped them, and they got really angry.

      So I would not touch them with a bargepole.. as not only they see their customers as cattle to be milked, but also their partners!!

      Anon, as you never know who will be your employer.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      I used to be one of the faithful, I still like the RDBMS product as it was where I learned my DBA craft almost 25 years ago but times change. PostgreSQL and dare I say it SQL Server, are now my favourites. I like how SQL Server throws almost everything in the box, unlike Oracle who would charge you to read the manuals given half the chance. Postgres is Oracle Lite, if you know Oracle and you're not too deeply tied into paying for Big Larry's latest mega toy, there's a good chance you could shift your Oracle stuff into a PostgreSQL cloud service and be shot of Oracle's nastiness.

      My faith was lost with Oracle about 10 years ago the second I found out how vicious their revenue and auditing dept were when we slipped up, bent over a barrel doesn't describe the pain and humiliation they put our company through. A service enabled by default in their software, buried in software that has dozens of processes and services and a bill for £120k landed on our CFO's lap, combined with other shortfalls amounted to £800k+ payable ASAP. Safe to say both the CFO and the CEO were not best pleased with the DBA dept.

      1. This is my handle
        Unhappy

        Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

        There's actually something called https://www.enterprisedb.com/ which provides an Oracle (the flagship dB, not the company :-)) compatibility layer between the application and it's data. I've only played with it, but the idea is that you could build your app on free postgreSQL, limiting yourself to only the features also supported by the big O, and if / when you need to "upgrade" you migrate your data and your good to go. I'm surprised by how little uptake / attention this seems to get. I doubt that many user orgs actually get to the migration phase, which may be the point of it.

        As for the old Sun product line, I have found memories of Solaris / SPARC / Java and the rest of their product line. It was great to be one of their customers. Somewhat less so for Oracle I'm afraid.

    8. obstacle

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      Great company if you are a shareholder.

      Lousy place to be an employee.

      Anon because...

    9. Bibbit

      Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

      More of a Ceefax person myself.

  7. John Savard

    Is it about SPARC

    While Solaris is available for the x86 platform, its main importance is as the primary choice for SPARC users.

    And while SPARC offed RAS features at a cost significantly below that of IBM mainframes or the Itanium, now you can get RAS on x86 Xeons from Intel. Probably on Opteron too, and if so, now that Epyc is competitive, that's a far more appealing alternative than a relatively little-used system that didn't give one a choice to switch to another database, should one feel like it.

    Oracle bought Sun, I believe, to get SPARC, and compete with IBM on all fronts. Maybe it's now realizing that was a bad idea, and it's going back to its core database business. Would anyone be interested in buying Sun from Oracle?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it about SPARC

      "Oracle bought Sun, I believe, to get SPARC, and compete with IBM on all fronts...."

      Or did they?

      Oracle would say they bought Sun for Java as that is the most important asset they have ever owned and so totally justifies the amount of compensation they want from Google for the Android malarky.

      Others might say they bought Sun for MySQL which might have taken significant share away from Oracle DB on Linux.

      Who knows why Oracle bought Sun but it was probably something to do with competition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it about SPARC

        MySQL <> Oracle DB. Not even close.

        Had you said Postgres, yes, I'd think about it, at least for lighter loads. Postgres is quite, quite, clever as a db. Mysql is not all that clever.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is it about SPARC

          MySQL had a big following and was widely used. It could have been a high end relational database given time and resources.

          But the issue isn't whether it would equal Oracle - it's unlikely it ever would. The issue is that Oracle make a lot of licensing money from software where the database is provided with the software. So this isn't customers that 'require' the power of an Oracle database that database was chosen, potentially due to some deal Oracle did with the developers, or it was just the developer's preference due to legacy. Often many of the key features of the database aren't utilised, they pretty much run ANSI SQL with some Oracle quirks.

          In these cases MySQL could have become an alternative. However with Oracle in charge they can make sure that it stays in it's box.

    2. Spit The Dog

      Fujitsu have a substantial interest in Sparc

      Is Fujitsu interested in keeping Sparc and Solaris going?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fujitsu have a substantial interest in Sparc

        They had already dropped Solaris and ran their SPARC-based K supercomputer on Linux, and they've been set to change the hardware as well.

        http://www.pcworld.com/article/3086249/fujitsu-drops-sparc-turns-to-arm-for-post-k-supercomputer.html

        So, it looks like no, they're not interested. I can't blame them, the attitude of Oracle toward the Oracle-branded, Fujitsu-made hardware was shitty and ungrateful, to say the least.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fujitsu have a substantial interest in Sparc

          Fujitsu certainly didn't stop SPARC developments nor did they stop SPARC SuperComputer developments. The ARM based SuperComputer they announced and are working on is for a specific customer who requested the specific configuration. Fujitsu released a statement about this:

          http://www.fujitsu.com/global/products/computing/servers/unix/sparc/20160623.html

          and they are full steam ahead on advancing SPARC having just released the awesome Fujitsu SPARC M12 and delivering to their 5 year roadmap.

          http://www.fujitsu.com/global/products/computing/servers/unix/sparc/key-reports/roadmap/

          Fujitsu SPARC M12 is years ahead of Intel Xeon and even IBM Power in performance and scalability.

      2. returnofthemus

        Re: Is Fujitsui interested in keeping Sparc and Solaris going?

        Probably not!

        No Roadmap, No Eco-system, No Future!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it about SPARC

      In April 2012, Oracle chief corporate architect Edward Screven testified that he told Larry Ellison in 2009 that "we should buy Sun for no other reason than Java."

      (Here's an odd coincidence: exactly one month before this RIF, when John Fowler left, Screven became the owner of Solaris and SPARC.)

  8. HmmmYes

    Oracle bought Sun because most of their big DB deployments ran on Solaris and used Java.

    Unsure about what looks like the death of Solaris. There must be demand for a large scaling enterprise OS outthere. RHEL, for all its pros, does not scale or provide the non-stop/hopt replacement of Solaris/SPARC.

    Hopefully enough of ZFS and DTRACE have leaked out to survive on BSD.

    I like Zones/Containers. A design that, given another 10 years, you see Docker moving too. All the VC money wasted on creating something thats done way better in Solaris/Containers. I guess VC are wary of puting money in ventures like SmartOS and the like. What with Larry being lawsuit happy.

    I hope someone puts a bullet in Javas VM. Bain of my life for 20 odd years. How can noone see its a pile of shite??

    1. iOS6 user

      > Hopefully enough of ZFS and DTRACE have leaked out to survive on BSD.

      I'm not sure did anyone noticed but Oracle dropped DTrace support in MySQL 5.7 and 8.0.

      I have no idea what they are doing :(

  9. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    RIP SPARC

    There was a time when I'd have sold my soul for a SPARC-powered Sun laptop.

    Admittedly, I was young and foolish, but sometimes you have to have a dream...

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: RIP SPARC

      I knew I certain ex-Acorn staffer who lived that dream.

    2. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: RIP SPARC

      There was a time when I'd have sold my soul for a SPARC-powered Sun laptop.

      I would've loved a Tadpole SPARCbook but my soul was not worth enough. When Sun first released Solaris for x86, I no longer really had any real need (apart from preferring SPARC to x86) for SPARC based laptop.

    3. confused and dazed

      Re: RIP SPARC

      I had a tadpole SPARC laptop - used to burn my knees !

  10. Rainer

    Could anybody have done better?

    After all, Sun Microsystems themselves couldn't produce a profit with the gear either.

    At least, Oracle kept the thing running for a couple more years.

  11. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    As it once was...

    To think that Sun were once touted as likely purchasers of the beleaguered® Apple Computer Corporation. How the mighty have fallen.

  12. Douchus McBagg

    sparc powered lap warmer...

    look up tadpole sparcbook and ultrabook

    i had one "back in the day". corp paid for ofc as it was $$$. it was the mutts particulars at the time.

    damn i'd forgotten that little gem from my past.

    and a CycleC5 IPX board that crammed an ultra5 CPU into an IPC/IPX case. like putting a jet engine in a shopping trolly.

    good engineers never go to waste. just look at the brain drain from Sun/SGI into Nvidia/Ati (as it was).

    Anyway, good luck to all those involved. income removal is never pleasant. Wish people well for exiting Larrys shadow. They'd better treat people well on the exit. it's all part of managing the brand these days.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was a sad day in the industry when Oracle took over Sun Microsystems. I was hoping that Scott McNealy would get the better of Microsoft, but money was thrown at him and of course, he bailed. Can't blame him for that. Having been a Victim of this sort of "Workforce Reduction" by two enterprise corps and one Hedge Fund owned Small biz, I feel for the staff who've been "harvested". I'm sure none of the "harvested" ones are in management. That never happens to them. It only happens to the people who do the work (of which, management is not considered to be part)...

  14. Blake St. Claire

    RIF ins't Oracle-speak

    RIF (Reduction In Force) is a pretty common expression on this side of the pond, although Layoff is perhaps the more commonly used term here. Or a furlough, for putting employees on leave while retooling a plant, as used to be common in the automotive industry. Now I think they just get laid off.

    I never really did understand "redundant" as a verb for termination. For all anyone knows you could have been 'redundant' for years before anyone finally got around to terminating you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RIF ins't Oracle-speak

      In the UK "redundant" implies that your job/role no longer exists, so it is reasonable for the company to sack you. It is more expensive to lay people off without a better reason than "more money for the boss".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RIF ins't Oracle-speak

      My first trip to Sun in US, someone told me they had been "re-deployed". Being young and naieve, I congratulated them !

  15. Fenton

    Killed the customer based

    With Oracle purchasing Sun, they effectivly killed off any software/hardware partnerships that where out there.

    If Sun where still independent would they have maintained a good partnership with SAP such that a HANA port would have been on the cards (like it is with IBM power).

    Would they have had a greater relationship with developers who would have embraced SPARC/Solaris as a development platform.

    The second Oracle came on board the software providers went, urgh not a friendly competitor/partner, I'll stick to x86 with Power as our only RISC based system.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Solaris and SPARC Teams,

    remember all those companies Sun Microsystems acquired ? They promised staff the world before they got gang raped and left out in the ditch on the side of the road.

    Sacrificing those companies, products and people kept Solaris and SPARC alive and on the pedestal...

    Well, now you know what it feels like.

    "Welcome to the family gang!"

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-worst-ceos-in-american-history-2010-5?op=1&IR=T/#nathan-schwartz-sun-microsystems-1

  17. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Nixless?

    How many viable commercial *nixen are there left? Solaris is mid seppuku. AIX I assume still ticks in dark places. Apple's creature probably still counts, but that's not really a server thing. I can't think of any others really.

    What does it say about commercial software 'innovation' that just about every serious business is now reliant on an utterly uncommercial entity they would have mugged and left for dead if they could.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nixless?

      Solaris

      AIX

      HP/UX

      Oracle would dump support for HP/UX in a heartbeat - they tried to get rid of Itanium once before. Not sure about AIX, not worked on it since V3 and early V4, I always thought it seemed pretty decent.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nixless?

      "How many viable commercial *nixen are there left?"

      I hear there's a Minix derivative that's found a niche market on certain non-Apple phones and some compute servers here and there. Can't remember the name.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uncle Larry needs more $$

    Poor Uncle Larry. With Sun thought he had the keys to the IT kingdom only to realize that having control of the entire stack from CPU to app didn't mean he could screw his customers into actually staying with Oracle forever. It's worth noting how much Sun IP he's now flushed down the toilet; Java, SPARC, NetBeans, MySQL, Solaris, Solstice Suite, ZFS, Dtrace, Sun Cloud (killed it only to rebuild something nearly identical), and many other bits of Sun IP that he didn't either appreciate or understand. The real question in all of this is why anyone would voluntarily do business with him. Maybe they're not really customers so much as hostages.

  19. MarkSitkowski

    Does this mean that Microsoft and Intel now own the world?

    Time to invoke the same ant-trust laws that saw the break-up of AT&T.

    1. rnturn

      Re: Does this mean that Microsoft and Intel now own the world?

      Because that worked so well.

      The US anti-trust folks were moved down to the storage room back in the '80s and and asked to concentrate on that bug problem.

  20. CheesyTheClown

    This is where Cisco should be NOW

    If Cisco weren't completely stupid, they would swipe in an make a public announcement that they will hire on the entire group of laid off staff for what their pay was when they were laid off.

    At that point, if Cisco isn't entirely stupid, they will :

    - start an enterprise ARM development team using the silicon developers.

    - use the Infiniband team to implement a proper storage stack for supporting SMB Direct and iWARP, etc...

    - use the operating system team to build a solid container platform for Docker. Cisco keeps trying to do something like this but without a good OS team to start with.

    - use the ZFS team for ... well Cisco needs a legacy storage solution, so a ZFS/FCoE solution for VMware would be great. Do it on ARM as well and make a single chip storage solution by embedding it within the Cisco VIC FPGA and Cisco will make a fortune

    This might be the best opportunity that either Cisco has had in a long time. It's almost as if Larry decided to just throw up a big bunch of gold into the air and let it land in about 2500 places around the world for Cisco to pick up.

    It's a good thing if HP doesn't go picking it up, they wouldn't know what to do with an engineer if someone smacked Meg Wittman on the head with one.

    Another alternative which would be amazing for this team... Nutanix should suck them up. Not in bits... but the whole damn group. It's easier to hire them all and weed out what you don't need later. 2500 employees is expensive... but Cisco and Nutanix have needed a team of developer like these for a while.

    Also, if the teams are heavy on H1-Bs, I would just let them go. There is certainly no shortage of experts in what will be left when they're gone. If Oracle is anything like Cisco or most other companies, then that's about 30-50% of their development teams.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Solaris isn't dead

    It lives on through Illumos.

  22. Stevie

    Bah!

    Do Oracle have any Solaris software bods to lay off?

    Every time our very large enterprise asks Oracle for a Solaris-trained tech to give us a hand with the various Oracle products we use we invariably end up with a Linux expert who doesn't have a clue about anything involving Solaris.

    I think the Solaris Internals bods all jumped ship years ago.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Itanium

    Can someone please send Scott McNeally a fax informing him that SPARC is dead, but the Itanic hasn't sunk yet. He'll get the joke.

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