Column

Sun Microsystems: The real inventor of cloud computing?

Jo Maitland, Senior Executive Editor

I missed the last Churchill Club event, the one where Larry Ellison pitched a fit over cloud computing, deftly switching the audience’s attention to his favorite topic (himself) rather than the cloud, about which

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he had nothing sensible to say.

We were the first company to...really embrace open source.

Sun co-founder Scott McNealy

The mood was very different at last night’s Churchill Club dinner in Silicon Valley, where Sun co-founder and former CEO Scott McNealy talked about the inevitable shift to cloud. He said the biggest inhibitor to cloud computing was that everyone is still "building their own Frankenstein and just trying to get to 2.0 … it isn’t going to happen with that mindset."

Given the opportunity to start another company today, he said, "the last thing I’d do is buy a computer, or build a computer; I'd do the Amazon Web Services thing.”

Sadly, Sun had an Amazon Web Services thing. It was Sun Cloud Compute -- based on Solaris 10, Sun Grid Engine and Java -- created long before AWS went mainstream but killed by Oracle soon after Sun Microsystems was bought.

McNealy added that cloud computing started with TCP-IP and open source.

"We were the first company to put it on every computer that shipped and to really embrace open source,” he said.

He also mentioned that NFS and building Solaris with multithreading and virtualization were all enabling technologies for cloud. Sun’s logo back in the mid-80s was, after all, "the network is the computer." Those words seem very prescient now.

R.I.P. Sun Microsystems, perhaps the real inventor of cloud computing.

Jo Maitland is the Senior Executive Editor of SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact her at jmaitland@techtarget.com.


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