Oracle has laid off almost 90 per cent of the engineers working on the Solaris Unix operating system, all but killing it off, according to former Sun Microsystems executive Bryan Cantrill.
The cuts, made over the US bank holiday weekend, come as sales of Oracle server hardware continue to fall.
Around 2,500 jobs, predominantly in software and hardware engineering, have reportedly been lost with staff located in Santa Clara, California taking the brunt (1,500) of the losses. Other locations include San Diego (400), Austin, Texas (100), Broomfield, Colorado (200), Burlington, Massachusetts (50) and India (50).
"As had been rumoured for a while, Oracle effectively killed Solaris on Friday," wrote Cantrill in a blog posting.
He continued: "When I first saw this, I had assumed that this was merely a deep cut, but in talking to Solaris engineers still at Oracle, it is clearly much more than that. It is a cut so deep as to be fatal: the core Solaris engineering organisation lost on the order of 90 per cent of its people, including essentially all management."
Staff Cantrill spoke to who weren't laid off, he added, wished they had been on account of "Oracle's behaviour" and "clumsiness, ineptitude and callousness" with which the latest cuts were delivered. Employees had their jobs terminated by robo-call, according to Cantrill.
Solaris had gone open source in 2005 with Sun's decision to back OpenSolaris, but in 2010, just as Oracle was taking over Sun Microsystems, the OpenSolaris community decided to cut their ties with the company, creating Illumos, based on the open-sourced Solaris code.
"Shortly after Illumos was announced, Oracle - in what remains to me a singularly loathsome and cowardly act - silently re-proprietarised Solaris on 13 August 2010," wrote Cantrill.
He continued: "Since 2010, Illumos has thrived. Illumos is not only the repository of record for technologies that have become cross-platform, like OpenZFS, but we have also advanced our core technologies considerably, while still maintaining highest standards of quality.
"Learning some of the mistakes of OpenSolaris, we have a model that allows for downstream innovation, experimentation and differentiation."
Despite the layoffs, Oracle is contractually committed to support Solaris until well into the 2030s, although it remains to be seen exactly what that will entail.
The engineering layoffs come after Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz in December admitted that the company would have to take a hard look at its hardware business, with sales falling quarter-on-quarter as customers shift to commodity Intel servers running Linux, or shift applications to the cloud.
Oracle also laid off around 450 staff in its hardware division in January this year. The company, meanwhile, has increased focused on expanding in cloud computing services.
V3 has contacted Oracle for comment and will update the story accordingly when the company responds.
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