Definitely true for the mainframe folks. Lots of people don't realize that virtual machines have been around for ages. Take a look at CP67. There's actually piles of cool and interesting architecture stuff to read with really interesting ideas that were tried.
One thing to remember about Sun is that on the server-side they really got a huge break when SGI (Who had just bought Cray) sold off the Cray 64 SPARC processor server to Sun. That became the Sunfire 10000. Which seems kindof insane in retrospect - handing one of your competitors the design for a 64 way server that paves the way for them taking a huge chunk of that lucrative market...
On the 'pretty fish' versus eat them front - I often think of it this way: You have a small team that develops a great product. At some point it becomes clear it's a great product to the business folks and they start hiring more and more business folks. Eventually you end up with lots of people all being supported by the original design. The relationship can be beneficial in the best case - the designers/engineers almost certainly don't want to do marketing and other stuff, they want to design and engineer cool new stuff. Someone needs to ensure there is enough capital for them to continue doing that, so you have the business and sales folks making sure folks buy the cool stuff. There are some common things that seem to happen though:
Sometimes the business guys kill off the engineering team. Almost certainly this is justified as reducing expenses, so improving share holder value. The problem is they can continue to extract revenue from what the engineers and designers they fired created for some time, but eventually that stuff starts to lose value. So the business folks panic and use more and more inventive reality-distortion to try and make it look cool, but eventually everone realizes that hey - this OS version 16.3 isn't really any different than version 7 - it turns out that the 'fab-gadget released in version 16 aren't really that fab...'....
It's kind of like the music industry where you have an artist make original music and then this massive pile of people who are all dependent on the artist best case it works out for all, worst case the artist gets screwed while the hangers on retire.
Of course the business folks reading this would say it's an incredibly arrogant short-sited typical engineer kind of view.
The truth is somewhere in the middle.