Today is my last day of employment at Sun (well, it became Oracle on March 1st in the UK but you know what I mean). I am a few months short of my 10th anniversary there (I joined at JavaOne in 2000) and my 5th anniversary as Chief Open Source Officer. I hope you’ll forgive a little reminiscence.
Looking back, we’ve achieved some amazing things. We’ve:
- Got some of the most important software in the computer industry released under Free licenses that guarantee software freedom for people who rely on them, regardless of who owns the copyrights. Unix, Java, key elements of Linux, the SPARC chip and much more have been liberated.
- Guided and fed the quiet revolution that has restored competition to the productivity software market through Open Document Format.
- Kick-started the corporate blogging revolution at Blogs.Sun.Com, so that at any time you could have checked there have been around 1200 Sun employees sharing their enthusiasms with maximum trust and minimum oversight. In the process we created policies that have enabled many other companies to start the same journey and gave employees ownership of their work.
- Changed Sun’s attitude towards open source so that early, bitter critics have become people willing to defend – or even join – the company.
- Participated in the wider community in useful ways, such as retiring old licensing, sponsoring the FSF and helping the GPL v3 come in to existence.
- Worked with an amazing, once-in-a-career team that has gone on to play key roles elsewhere in the industry.
I didn’t do any of that alone, plenty of it wasn’t my idea, and without the groundwork of others before me it would have been impossible. There are far too many people to attempt to thank here – each “we” above represents a bunch of smart people of whom I was the least. You all know who you are, thank-you so much for the privilege of working with you.
Of course, no story with highlights like that can be without disappointments too. I’m sad that Apache did not get the TCK license they requested. I’m sad that we didn’t get the code for some of those projects permanently outside the sun firewall. I’m sad we never got to a place where co-developers become a priority for various product teams. And I’m sad that, despite the success of the open source software businesses, it still wasn’t enough to rescue Sun in the end. But overall, I am amazed and humbled to see what the open source team at Sun has achieved.
I’ve not decided what to do next (well, apart from sell photos and other shameless commercialism!), but I see so many friends finding exciting opportunities that I’m not especially concerned for now. I intend to keep blogging, so I doubt anything I do will be much of a secret.