I worked at Sun Microsystems full-time (More than 3 years)
Sun gave the world many great technologies, NFS, Java, NIS, NIS+, Solaris, and so on. They were quite ahead of their time in a lot of respects. Sun respected their employee Work-Life balance. Even going as far as to tell people to take time off and stop working.
The environment was wonderful, great technology, great people, a very positive atmosphere. Office floor plan had several different area that you could work in depending on the task you had to accomplish. Individual pods when you needed to focus and work on a task. Larger team collaboration rooms for several employees to talk, share ideas and collaborate on things. Smaller spaces for smaller teams or for managers to have confidential one-on-one meetings. The bigger campuses even had "drop in areas" for visiting employees to be able to get a desk and do some work.
And above all, this company's motto was "The Network is the Computer" which rings so true now with Cloud Computing.
Employees were also required (at least in my role) to take a minimum of two training classes a year, one in hardware and one in software. I haven't been at a company since that has put so much into their employees with respect to training.
Would totally recommend the old Sun to people. But can't anymore since the Oracle acquisition.
* Couldn't market their products
* In-consistent approach on Solaris x86. Had they not ignored it / killed it / reanimated it as much as they did, perhaps Linux wouldn't have completely ate its lunch
* Inconsistent hiring into job levels... aka a less experienced person got hired into a higher ranked role than someone already performing well in a lower ranked role. (Think being hired as an L3 and the L2 has much more experience.)
* Not able to sell their technology well
* Glut of servers on the market from the dot com bust... really hurt sales of new systems.
* Was ahead of their time, and thus was acquired before being able to really make waves with Cloud Computing.
Advice to Management
Pony Tailed CEO was a mistake, shouldn't have changed captains in the storm.
Being Sold to Oracle was another mistake, but I blame pony tail for that misstep.
I applied through an employee referral. The process took a week. I interviewed at Sun Microsystems (Denver, CO).
This was a straightforward process where a friend took my resume in. A few days later I ended up getting a call from the hiring manager. Went in for an interview and met with multiple people who asked mostly technical and experience questions.