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Sun Microsystems

Sun to Cut 5000 Jobs 214

Posted by Zonk
from the less-than-ideal dept.
codemachine writes "In one of Jonathan Schwartz's first acts as CEO, Sun Microsystems has announced that they are cutting up to 5,000 jobs over the next 6 months. The company plans to sell property it owns in Newark, Calif., and to exit leases at a site in Sunnyvale, Calif. Analysts will be pleased that Sun has finally taken steps to cut costs, but what will this mean for the future of the company?"
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Sun to Cut 5000 Jobs

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  • Doh (Score:2, Funny)

    by gentimjs (930934)
    And to think, just yesterday I was pointed at thier jobs page by a friend...
    • by N3WBI3 (595976)
      Companies the restructure ofen cut more than they need to inorder to remove some dead wood. Its far easier to get rid of someone because of layoffs than it is for performance. I would be willing to bet in the coming year SUN will do more hireing than it did last year..
    • Re:Doh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by superpat (538539) *

      Disclosure - I am a Sun employee. Hopefully unaffected by this move. I am speaking for myself here, not for the company.

      Having said that, this is a targeted cut. Not a cheese-paring '10% everywhere' as has happened in the past. The execs have taked a hard look at our business and decided that we'll focus on what makes sense for Sun. Areas that don't make the cut will be, well, cut. What's remaining will be left intact.

      In fact, my group has open [sun.com] reqs [sun.com] that we are actively filling. Unusually, these are ent

  • by m4c north (816240) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:12AM (#15444446)
    Moon to cut only 1200 jobs (and Marvin gets to keep his).
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NosPAm.optonline.net> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:14AM (#15444470) Journal

    5000 disgruntled ex-Sun employees band together to form a new company, Black Hole, billing themselves as the "anti-Sun" development company and creating a programming language called "Borneo." I can see it coming; it's written in my tea leaves.

    Let's hope Sun gets smart and gets rid of the excess layers of middle management and their entire marketing staff, along with a few maintenance guys. If they let go too many programmers, the competition may reap a windfall.

    • How embarrasing it would be if you had to put Sun Marketing Department on your resume. But yes, they must all go if the company is to survive. Java is probably the best example of great technology held back by completely incompetent marketing.
      • Java is probably the best example of great technology held back by completely incompetent marketing.

        How about New Coke?

        Just kidding. Seriously, I would use Sega Dreamcast as an example.

      • Java is probably the best example of great technology held back by completely incompetent marketing.

        I had heard about numerous problems with Java in the past (JVM performance, licensing issues, etc.) but had not known its marketing was widely perceived to be one of them. I'm curious ... what was it that the Sun marketing staff did that was so "incompetent?" Did they do something that turned off users or developers in the way it was marketed? Did they run big ads saying 'Java causes intestinal cramps' or

        • Initially, the big problem was they claimed Java could do absolutely anything. Remember the jokes about the Java-enabled toaster? Once Java failed to live up to its initial promises, they failed to market it to a more appropriate environment, like business applications. Businesses and software companies made this popular on their own. Then there was the laughable Java Desktop. Then the licensing issues: are they going to open source it or not? Is Java proprietary or not? Once Sun makes up their mind exactly
      • Java is probably the best example of great technology held back by completely incompetent marketing.

        Java is probably the best example of great technology that's killing the company that produced it. Java may well be the very thing that is killing Sun microsystems.

        Java makes the hardware platform largely irrelevant, except in terms of raw performance and reliability. Sun Microsystems is a hardware company. Thus, the more popular Java is, the less relevant Sun Microsystems is. If you are using Java, why woul
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Nah, they probably have contracts requiring their former employees to bite down on the cyanide capsule implanted in one of their teeth if they're in danger of divulging Sun's secrets.

      Now THAT's a non-compete clause.
    • I can see it coming; it's written in my tea leaves.

      And what, may I ask, are you using to compile it?
    • If they let go too many programmers, the competition may reap a windfall. ...assuming those were valuable programmers. My guess is that just-as-skilled programmers as those let off by Sun can be outsourced from India for cheaper.
      • *sarcasm* You sir are management material. Developers are just replaceable parts. Any developer is the same as any other developer who gets the same pay ( better if they do the job for less ). *end sarcasm*

        Layoffs are not done based soley on skill level and experience. Some good programmers will be cut with the chaff. Good people are going to get hurt. For some it may be an opportunity, for others it will be a tragedy.

        New Rule: Don't judge people by their employer. There may even be some good develope
  • The company?!?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ossifer (703813) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:17AM (#15444491)
    ...but what will this mean for the future of the company?
    What about the future of 5,000 human workers?
    • The writing has been on the wall for a long time, both for Sun, and at Sun. Those who chose not to read it and move on, well, I do empathize with them but they made a very poor decision. You can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding; personally, I'd have dusted off the ol' resume and begun looking for work in earnest when Sun and Microsoft hopped in the sack together.
      • A 37,000 person company bringing in $12 billion a year in revenue is not exactly circling the drain.

        Sun and Microsoft signed their deal what, 2 years ago? 37,000 people should have just suddenly given up on their jobs, benefits, perks, projects because...why again?

    • by Kohath (38547)
      What about the future of 5,000 human workers?

      They'll go get new jobs. We have a great economy and we're at more-or-less full employment.
      • If the economy is so great, why are so many former programmers and sysadmin types working at my wife's place of employment (a call center) for $12-15/hour?

        Cross-sector numbers across an entire country are one thing, accurate numbers pertaining to a specific industry and location are quite another...
        • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:20AM (#15445244) Journal
          Under employment is not the same thing. And with this admin, underemployment is probably at a peak.

          But keep in mind that this is result of the awesome economy that we had under clinton. During his time (with his opening of the internet), we saw such great expansion. Basically, the tech jobs that were created were way too many. Many ppl who came in had no real knowledge (a training class in windows sys-ad or programming is NOT real knowledge) and really did not gain much experience. Most have been forced into other jobs as incompetent companies went under.
        • Of course this is anecdotal, but we've been trying to hire someone now for 6 months. Out of all the people we've interview only one was even remotely qualified and he took a different job. Have you thought that maybe those former programmers/sysadmins aren't qualified to do anything else? It's interesting because even through the economy down turn we had from the internet bubble hangover, qualified people I knew had no problems finding good, well paying jobs. Hell, I have 2 job offers open on the table
        • Because the pointy headed bosses at the places that outsource their programming, haven't figured out yet, that cheaper programmers aren't....
    • A little sunburn can't harm too much
    • by Brushfireb (635997) *
      I'm glad you care about those 5000 workers. Thats nice.

      Unfortunately, its also stupid. The company must survive to provide jobs for the other 25,000 people that work for Sun. If firing these 5000 workers will allow them some much needed restructuring of operations, then the rest of their workforce will be better off for it, and will allow them to make money and eventually hire more people.

      Certainly, its not fun or easy that 5000 people lose out so 25000 people can gain. However, Sun is really not a place wh
      • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:52AM (#15444898)
        I'm glad you care about those 5000 workers. Thats nice. Unfortunately, its also stupid.

        Well, you know, it's possible to have a little compassion for the people who are going to lose their jobs without suggesting that Sun was wrong to let them go. Nowhere in the parent post was it implied that the RIF was wrong or even unnecessary. So why all the righteous indignation? It's one thing not to have empathy, but quite another to be actively offended by it in others.

      • On the other hand, they may end up like my firm - paying contract rates to hire back the staff it made redundant after things picked up.

        You could see that as a win-win situation for the redundant staff, or at least revenge.

        Although at least the staff knew about this before it appeared in Slashdot (I had a CV from a really interesting Sun employee who had just taken voluntary redundancy, and thought 'I didn't know they were making cuts'). It's hardly an unexpected turn of events.

    • by supabeast! (84658) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:50AM (#15444875)
      "What about the future of 5,000 human workers?"

      Sun has been going down the tubes for years, any idiot could have seen this coming - especially once it was announced that McNealy was stepping down as CEO. Sun employees have had plenty of time to find jobs at profitable, well-run firms, or to at least stash away money to live on. I see little reason to worry about their futures - anyone getting canned has had plenty of time to jump ship.
    • It's up to them to decide their future. If their future consisted solely of the condition, ebb and flow that is Sun Microsystems (or $XYZ inc.) then that would be a bleak future indeed.

      In a modern capitalist society such as the US, everyone has the ability to own something. It's the choice of these workers if they decide not to own anything that can make money for them and depend solely on the pay of an employer to subside on. As such, they shouldn't cry when said employer lays them off and no one else s
    • For the last 5 years, being cut meant that it was going to be difficult to get a job. Right now, there is a shortage of techies in the Denver (where I am guessing that some 1-3K will come from). So as to the ppl, most if not all will be ok.

      Of course, according to the gov. numbers, they would be wise to pick up jobs real quick, rather than taking too long.
  • Yeah, it sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by porkThreeWays (895269) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:22AM (#15444564)
    Yeah it sucks badly to lose your job, but it doesn't really mean Sun is going down the hole. It means they are cutting the fat. I don't know how profitable of a company they are, but this is typical of companies that are trying to be all things to all people. It generally means they are going to re-focus on their core market (what actually made them money in the first place).

    I remember when Amazon refocused. They were selling so many ridiculuos (to ship) items, there were many products you could get at a local store that cost more to ship than the product itself!
    • It means they are cutting the fat.

      Let's see. Last year they RIF'd some people. Then they bought StorageTek which added 7000. Now they're RIF'ing 5000.

      Trimming the fat?

      Since the dot com bubble burst, Sun has been laying off many thousands of staff per year, but at the same time acquiring other companies. Remember Cobalt? Within a year of the acquisition, the product line had withered on the vine, most of the staff had been RIF'd and the Cobalt founder left to start another company.

      Have a look at Sun's h

    • And, so ... Are the fortunate ones to be considered tendon, grissel, cartilage, nerve endings, bone? I guess a company can never have "too much nerve". I wonder what is the version of

      --a "corporate root canal"
      -- corporate bone marrow extraction
      -- corporate cartilage snipping
      -- corporate tendonits

      Strike the corporate tendon and cartilage and they will swagger like the zombies in Return of the Living Dead that shouted "LIVE BRAINS", "MORE BRAINS"...

      (I never liked cartilage in my food, either, nor the veins in
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:23AM (#15444572)
    Sun's not-invented-here madness has kept them from overcoming the McNeely mindset.... one that pushed SGi recently into Chapter 11. I, for one, believe that both Solaris and uSparc technologies bring a lot to the table.

    Their feistyness has been one of their biggest stumbling blocks for years. This gives them a chance to rebuild, cut some of their more insane projects and financial bleeding, and get back into action.

    Sun has very goofy, fence-straddling legacy madnesses: Java programs, licensing issues, relationship issues, Microsoft litigation legacies, and all sorts of baggage. The faster they shed the baggage and go with producing assets, the better, IMHO.
    • The faster they shed the baggage and go with producing assets, the better, IMHO.

      What assets?

      Solaris seems to be constantly losing ground to Linux and since it's open source now anyway, they're basically on a level playing field with other UNIX support contract vendors (like Red Hat), except they have to pay all the development costs of their product whereas Red Hat/Novell/Canonical only pay some.

      SPARC once had big advantages over more mainstream architectures. Nowadays its main play is huge paralleli

      • Take the multi-core uSparc family. There are three viable choices for server CPUs today-- Intel/AMD-something, PPC family, or uSparc. Intel and AMD are fighting each other for margins. The fabless uSparc design is tight and well designed. IBM can't let go of the PPC family for many reasons, but it lags behind the Intel/AMD world vastly.

        Java? Nice technology with a crummy marketing plan. The Java Desktop is pretty cool stuff.... and needs lots of sandpaper and varnish to make it work well. Do they have an in
  • What Sun hasn't mentioned is that contract workers are still needed, in great supply. Even during, and after, the job cuts contract workers will be needed. I'm not just talking about 3mo gigs, 1+ year contract workers will be in high demand. If you're damned good, they may even hire you on. All their doing is cutting the fat, not the muscle.
    • As one reply noted, Sun is terminating a bunch of contractors as they lay off employees. But lets assume that what the parent article says is accurate. Sun is, in effect, doing what Microsoft tried to do before TechsUnite successfully sued them. Sun is creating three levels in their work force. At the bottom there is offshore outsourcing to India. The next level are US contractors, who can be terminated at any time and, on a cash hourly basis are probably not paid much more than Sun employees (e.g., $4

  • by SangoDaze (78611) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:39AM (#15444735)
    I took a Unix systems programming class from Sun about five years ago and it was very good. The only downside to the class were the attitudes of some of the Sun employees that were in there. They repeatedly told the rest of the class that they "didn't really need to know this stuff" and that they were "web guys" or "java gui guys" and that the nuts and bolts of Unix were tangential. When they were in the room they spent most of their time talking about the price of Sun's stock. It was hard to imagine how the company was going to go forward when so many employees seemed to think that their core products (Unix servers) were not really worthy of learning about.

    I really like Sun's stuff and I hope that they are able to make a big comeback; but they are not going to do it counting on the folks that were in my class.
    • The majority of programmers everywhere are like that, in my experience. Sure, the real genius hackers are going to know just about everything about everything, but most developers just focus on their chosen niche. Sounds like they just selected the wrong instructors for teh class you were taking. I would, however, be concerned about people focussed on the price of their stock options.

      -matthew
  • by castlec (546341) <castlec@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:42AM (#15444778)
    I know people who work for Sun here in CZ. I also went through their interview process while I was looking for a job in January. Sun decided a long time ago that continued investment in the US was a waste of money. They directly told me they had no interest in having new employees in the US. Their operations have been growing in eastern Europe and India. The layoffs come as no surprise to me at all. They have been creating the redundancy to be able to let go of people for a while.
  • business model? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b17bmbr (608864) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @10:46AM (#15444822)
    what exactly is Sun's business model? java is free, their hardware is expensive, linux is also free, and thin clients are great but not what the market wants. are they a hardware company like apple, or a software company like microsoft? or are they a services company?
    • Re:business model? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by molarmass192 (608071)
      From personal experience, we *used* to buy Sun because they had top notch hardware (E450 being the glaring exception ... POS) and top notch service. Solaris never factored into our equation. Like I've said repeatedly, kill that sick Solaris horse, it's time has come and gone, hanging on to it will only serve to sink the ship. The market wants Linux, in fact it's been a few YEARS since we looked at Solaris in our stack, at least in house. Sun needs to dump Solaris, and make a firm stand behind Linux. Sadly,
      • I disagree: Solaris documentation for example is far better than Linux one.
        This is quite an important aspect..
      • Re:business model? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rdavis542 (878124)
        The hardware is still top notch, especially the AMD64 boxes that they have produced the last year or two. Screamingly fast in web servers (my companies websitse run completely on sun/solaris/apache/php) and pretty damn stable (close to a year of uptime since being implemented). Solaris 10 Sparc and X86 are also probably the best releases Sun has had for years, ZFS right around the corner, the zones implementation (allowing prod/QA/test all to reside on one box but somewhat seperate from each other), the n
  • Remaining Sun employees to be paid in Grid computing hours.
  • I think what we all want to know is...

    How many of these jobs were for lawyers who write up new "open source" licenses?

  • by gh (68417) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:03AM (#15445019)
    Jonathan Schwartz's blog says a lot more behind the decision to cut the 5,000 employees. You may or may not agree with the decision, but it's far more informative about the direction Sun is heading in than the /. submission link.

    http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan?entry=ph ase_2 [sun.com]
  • I Guess this explains the new Sun Microsystems building I see getting built in my city....

  • There's been a steady stream of layoff announcements over the past 6 years. And yet, Bush and many economist pundits claim the US economy is strong.
  • There's also a rumor that Intel is going to layoff people [theregister.co.uk] as well, to the tune of 16,000 workers.
  • This is just yet more of the same from Sun. The business strategy since the bubble bursts seems to be:

    Fire 9-11% of the staff to "cut costs"
    Take an accounting hit to reduce tax
    Acquire many smaller companies adding thousands more staffers
    Continue everything else the same
    Increase revenue hopefully
    Not quite make a profit
    Repeat.
    pSo, what other secret laws of tax, accounting and business does this exploit, and why is it a good strategy?

  • best of luck to those affected.
  • Sun has been laying off workers since early 2000. They even have entire abandoned buildings:
    http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/sun_micros ystems.htm [abandonedb...gotten.com]

    Sun expanded by leaps and bounds during the DotCom boom, and has been contracting ever since the DomCom bust. This shouldn't surprise anyone. Sun will be around for a long time to come, just not as large as during their "glory days" of the 1998 Foosball/Aeron/Nerf DotCom era that we all miss.

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