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Oracle staff report big layoffs across Solaris, SPARC teams

Storage products in peril, too, but Big Red declines to comment

Soon-to-be-former Oracle staff report that the company made hundreds of layoffs last Friday, as predicted by El Reg, with workers on teams covering the Solaris operating system, SPARC silicon, tape libraries and storage products shown the door.

Oracle's media relations agency told The Register: “We decline comment.” However, Big Red's staffers are having their say online, in tweets such as the one below.

A “RIF” is a “reduction in force”, Oracle-speak for making people redundant (IBM's equivalent is an “RA”, or “resource action”).

Tech industry observer Simon Phipps claims “~all” Solaris staff were laid off. His use of a tilde, and threads on anonymous message board The Layoff that mention small numbers of staff being retained, lead us to believe that a small Solaris team remains in place. Other comments mention hundreds of workers recently moved from dedicated Solaris teams to Oracle's Linux development efforts. The Register feels it's conceivable that such teams could work on Solaris and Oracle Linux code, leaving significant resources available to both and perhaps even to deliver on Oracle's plan for continuous updates to Solaris 11.3 instead of a full 12.0 upgrade.

Threads on The Layoff suggest that around 2,500 layoffs have been made, covering Solaris, SPARC silicon development and storage hardware, including tape libraries, with one result being that development work has ceased on the ZFS Storage Appliance. The fate of Solaris and SPARC silicon remains unclear.

Oracle's silence on the matter is true to form, as the company seldom discusses layoffs. This round was communicated to workers on the Friday before a long weekend and on the first day of the month. That timing means that immediate media scrutiny was less likely and that regulatory filings under US States' Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) regulations will remain out of sight for extra days in jurisdictions that report them weekly, or extra weeks in States that publish monthly.

Solaris users of The Register's acquaintance tell us they've been made aware of the layoffs, but not of their impact on future enhancements to the OS. Oracle has committed to support Solaris until the 2030s, so users aren't going to be orphaned. But if the company is slowing SPARC development it suggests that even the cloud may not be available as an escape route for users of the platforms Oracle acquired from Sun. Which in turn suggests that Oracle's plan to build a SPARC-powered cloud hasn't been well-received.

Perhaps the company will explain itself at its OpenWorld conference, which hits San Francisco on October 1st. ®

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