The business side of HPC …

… is like any other business, there are ups and downs. Companies in HPC, as core HPC companies, and those with HPC practices are not immune to state of economy as a whole. If spending drops precipitously, business needs to re-adjust, and re-align.
It definitely hurts if you are one of those … re-aligned.

I have been there, and done that. I have been “re-aligned” twice, during downturns. The most recent time has been during the last bubble in 2002. Thats when I started the day job.
Word on /. from a Merc news article points to a 15-18% cut at Sun. Sun isn’t a primarily HPC company, they are a generalist company with some groups working on HPC. Cuts should be on under-performing business units. I don’t know if HPC is a net profit or loss maker for Sun. They are facing a competitive environment which has rapidly encroached upon their entrenched markets, while reducing demand for their products. The Merc article points out that the company valuation is roughly equivalent to the cash on hand. Ouch.
I have heard from friends at IBM and Dell of similar re-alignments.
The market is tough, and when people and businesses stop spending, costs need to be reduced. People are usually the largest cost item for a business.
HPC has shown steady growth in the face of economic uncertainty. If anything, I do expect that it will continue to grow, as it shows great value to end users in cost reduction via simulation and analysis. Moreover, with units like the day-jobs’ Pegasus many-core desktops (though you probably haven’t heard much about them), HPC continues its inevitable march to the desktop and accelerator technology. I expect it to continue this march unabated. Desktop HPC lowers cost per cycle and per core in a disruptive manner.
But for this nascent HPC market to succeed, people have to buy. For HPC to grow, HPC systems have to be developed and sold.
The business of HPC continues, albeit in a more challenging environment. More changes afoot for long standing players in and around the space.