Sun's stars: Where are they now? And why did they leave?

The key forces behind Java, JRuby, and more have all left Oracle

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Bray revealed little about his departure in a blog post but hinted at animosity: "I'd had an offer to stay with Oracle, which I decided to decline; I'll maybe tell the story when I can think about it without getting that weird spiking-blood-pressure sensation in my eyeballs. So I reached out to a couple of appealing potential next employers, both were interested, and Google seemed like the best bet," Bray wrote.

Oracle is about making money; Sun was about inventing technology
Sun and Oracle have had "massively different cultures," says Forrester Research analyst John Rymer. "I don't think the Oracle guys respect the Sun guys. The Oracle guys are really expert at making a lot of money, at selling software." Rymer said. "The Sun guys, they were pretty good at inventing things but they weren't good at making money. That's why they got sold."

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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has said as much, telling Reuters recently, "The underlying engineering teams are so good, but the direction they got was so astonishingly bad that even they couldn't succeed."

Sun's open source strategy clashed with Oracle's profit strategy, Rymer says. "If you're sitting in Larry Ellison's chair, where he's all about 20 percent growth and massive amounts of revenue and all that, he looks at [former Sun CEO] Schwartz's strategy and says, 'Why would I do that?' Buying MySQL [as Sun did] on the theory that you could sell all those people servers and storage, that didn't work," Rymer notes.

Rymer says, "I wasn't surprised at all that [Gosling] left. Gosling is more of a research kind of guy. He just didn't strike me as a guy who would be happy working inside of a big money machine like Oracle."

"I think the assessment of cultures not fitting is pretty near the truth," says RedMonk analyst Michael Cote. While Sun sought exploratory, cutting-edge engineering talent, Oracle's business model has centered on building and buying up successful portfolios, such as Siebel and PeopleSoft, Cote says.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa also acknowledged cultural differences and different agendas at the two vendors: "I think Gosling was an example of that. He's much more of a sort of a freewheeling spirit." Oracle, meanwhile, has been much tighter with its messaging and does not like multiple reports going out, he notes. But Hilwa dismisses the notion that the concept of open source presented a clash, since Oracle also is promoting open source.

Oracle eventually could suffer a loss of innovation from the Sun departures, says Forrester's Rymer. But most of the software products that Sun worked on such as the Glassfish application server are not strategic to Oracle anyway, he notes. (Oracle has expressed intentions to continue Glassfish as a departmental offering.)

Rymer adds, "I still don't think [Oracle has] figured out the [plan for Sun's] hardware."

This article, "Sun's stars: Where are they now? And why did they leave?," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter and on your mobile device at

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