Oracle closed the acquision of Sun Microsystems on January 27. Sun still exists, although as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle. Most people think of Oracle as a database company, and this has inspired some database-oriented gallows humor, such as:
DROP TABLE Sun_Employees;
Of course, it hasn’t been this bad. Before the deal closed rumors were flying that Oracle wouldn’t lay off everybody; instead, they’d only 50% of Sun employees:
DELETE FROM Sun_Employees WHERE MOD(emp_no, 2) = 1;
(Considerably less than 50% of Sun employees were actually laid off, for which I’m quite grateful.) On the day of the close, a bunch of names did disappear from the employee database, including all the top executives like McNealy and Schwartz and a bunch of others. I was startled by this. I’m not quite sure why, since logically I should have expected it, and indeed they had sent farewell messages to the entire company a few days earlier. It’s one thing to expect something logically; it’s another thing for it to happen in reality. Reality, that is, as represented by the existence or nonexistence of database entries.
The removal of all the top execs has had another effect. To throw some database lingo around, it’s denormalized the employee database. Well, not really, but the employee database does seem to have lost referential integrity. Each employee record has a “reports-to” field which points to that employee’s manager. The entire company was arranged in a hierarchy, with Scott McNealy at the very top. With the top execs gone, the VP of my organization (the highest ranking guy in my Sun management chain to continue with Oracle) is now is listed as reporting to some HR guy in Germany. This HR guy in turn reports to an HR woman in Belgium, who reports to another HR guy in England… who reports to the first HR guy in Germany. A circularity! Other people have their “reports-to” field containing an employee number for which no employee record exists. In one case an employee record exists for a guy who quit over a year ago, and he’s listed as reporting to a manager who was laid off several months ago. Oh great, we get acquired by a database company and our employee database falls apart. At this point I don’t actually expect that it will be repaired. It’ll probably just lurch along for a while and then get shut down. Now that’s just sad.
Meanwhile, I’m still a Sun employee. But not for much longer. The next step in the integration is to convert of Sun employees to Oracle. (After I’m converted, do I need to learn how to genuflect or something?) This will take place country by country over the next few months. For Sun employees in North America, this conversion takes place tomorrow. This means that today is, or perhaps Friday was, my last day as a Sun employee.
It might be good to be part of a winning team for a change.