RIP: Sun Cloud

In March of last year, then independent Sun Microsystems announced their plans for cloud computing. There were some people who dismissed it outright and many more who were skeptical of Sun’s plans. I was in a minority and was pretty excited about the announcement because of its potential to keep the clouds open. In the post I wrote immediately after the announcement, I went gaga about what Sun’s Cloud can do for the cloud ecosystem, in general.

In fact, when Sun made their announcement last week, the first thing that struck me was it was a good step in the right direction. With their emphasis on openness and interoperability, they are helping the idea of Federated Clouds. If we do not push for this idea of Open Federated Clouds, we will end up with a monopoly of one or two providers in the infrastructure space. Such a monopoly goes against the open federated structure of the internet. The very foundation of Cloud Computing is on top of the internet and it is only natural to take the same open federated structure to Cloud Computing also. In this sense, the announcement of Sun Microsystems is exciting and I hope they follow through on their promise. This announcement should serve as a wake up call to other vendors too. If they don’t embrace the idea of openness, they will end up losing in this new world where the idea of interoperability and dataportability are already intertwined with the consciousness of the users.

After the announcement, Oracle announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsystems and they went silent on their cloud plans. My attempts to elicit information from them fell flat and I had a chance to talk to some Sun folks during Structure ‘09 conference and they told me that Sun is rethinking their cloud strategy. They tried hard to emphasize that it has nothing to do with Oracle’s plans but they are assessing whether they should go with the public cloud or focus on helping enterprises build private cloud.

When I was in Structure ’09 conference last week, I had a chance to talk to some folks from Sun and I asked them about what happened to their Cloud Computing plans. Their response got me intrigued. They told me that Sun is rethinking their Cloud strategy. They told me that Sun is now discussing whether they should continue with their plans for public cloud offering or focus only on what is known as Private Clouds. However, they put in lot of efforts to emphasize that their engineers are still continuing with their work on their promised public cloud offerings but there is no final decision on the path Sun will take in this regard. I asked them if it has anything to do with Oracle and they replied in negative.

Then Oracle-Sun merger ran into problems with European Union and everything on Sun’s cloud side went silent except for some good Whitepapers. In my year end post talking about the Winners and Losers of 2009, I added Sun Microsystems in the Losers category. I was pretty convinced that the game is over for Sun public cloud.

Now, it is officially over. According to The Register, Sun executives had shot down the plans unequivocally.

It took a major acquisition to finally deliver a dose of reality, but Sun Microsystems’ me-too Amazon-style cloud is finally dead.

On Wednesday, Edward Screven, Oracle’s chief corporate architect, said unequivocally that the database giant would not be offering Sun’s long-planned and highly-vaunted compute resource service.

It looks like whatever I heard from Sun folks during the Structure ‘09 conference might stay on their roadmap.

“We don’t plan to be in the rent-by-minute computer business,” Screven said. “We plan to provide technology for others that are in the rent-by-minute computer business and lots of other business you might call cloud computing.”

With Larry Ellison going nuts about the idea of Cloud Computing, this announcement is expected. It is sad to see a giant of yesteryears go down like this. It is sad for the open cloud evangelists. RIP – the sun cloud.

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