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Employee (almost) chronicles Sun's top 10 failures

Sun has its share of hecklers, but Dan Baigent's inside take on Sun's failings makes for informative reading.

Dan Baigent is senior director of corporate development with Sun Microsystems. He's also one of the most candid inside observers on the failures that brought Sun to the point that it had to be bailed out by Oracle in a $7.4 billion acquisition, down from Sun's bubble-era peak of a $200 billion-plus valuation.

In a series of blog posts, Baigent starts to identify Sun's top 10 failures, and their consequences, as he seeks to describe how Sun got to this point.

Actually, he only managed to get his first three reasons posted before the posts were pulled down. However, Google cached them and you can find them below.

I can understand why Sun might not want to highlight its failures, and there may be Securities and Exchange-related reasons for shuttering the posts, but Baigent's commentary is insightful and helpful. I hope Sun will allow Baigent to post his remaining seven reasons.

  • Reason No. 10: Failed to understand the x86 market. "We approached the market in the only way we knew how - as an extension of our high-end, low-volume, high-value approach to network computing. And not just in terms of product features and capabilities, but in terms of sales, partnerships, channel programs and supply chain management."
  • Reason No. 9: Messing with the Java brand. "(N)umerous attempts by well-meaning marketing folks at Sun to try exploit the value of the Java brand itself and how that ultimately reduced the very value they tried to exploit. To some degree, this is as much about the lack of value in the Sun brand (at least outside our loyal customer base) as it is about Java".
  • Reason No. 8: Fumbling Jini. "The real problem was that the engineers had built this technology using the latest Java platform...and had incorporated specific changes into J2SE 1.2 to support the Jini requirements. When launched, Jini could not run in anything smaller than a device with 64MB of memory and a Pentium-class processor.... Meanwhile, Marketing and PR were off describing uses of the technology that were all about small devices (cameras, printers, cell phones, etc.) that were completely unable to run RMI, nonetheless the Jini on which it was built.

I find that I tend to learn much more from my failures than from my successes. I'd be grateful for the chance to learn from Sun's, too. Sun, please let Baigent continue his countdown. It allows Sun to constructively chronicle its own failings, rather than allowing others to do so in less generous terms.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.