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, …

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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?

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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".

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Anonymous Coward

Or perhaps just "nearly all".

But mere words are so imprecise

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Solaris, is that means the end is nigh?

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Set The Controls....

....For The Heart Of The Sun!

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Re: Set The Controls....

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

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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.

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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.

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@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.

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Trollface

Re: Timing

Nobody asked Poland's opinion on September 1st?

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LDS
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"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.

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Re: Timing

Maybe he couldn't wait for Christmas this year.

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Re: Timing

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

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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?

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Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

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

Maybe not.

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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 ...

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

Great company if you are a shareholder.

Lousy place to be an employee.

Anon because...

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Re: Do Oracle fans exist?

More of a Ceefax person myself.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Fujitsu have a substantial interest in Sparc

Is Fujitsu interested in keeping Sparc and Solaris going?

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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.

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Bronze badge

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

Probably not!

No Roadmap, No Eco-system, No Future!

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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??

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> 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 :(

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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...

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Re: RIP SPARC

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

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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.

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Re: RIP SPARC

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)...

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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.

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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".

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