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The Oracle Sun deal – Set to be a scorcher?
Does the deal make sense?
This is a landmark event in the IT world for many reasons, not least that it is the first major takeover of a hardware vendor by a software company – almost a reverse takeover. Looking forward to Oracle’s future plans for this it is unclear whether this forms part of a grander plan to take on the likes of IBM and HP as all round providers.
But for today, there are clear advantages for Oracle, and for Sun:
» It secures a home for Java and Sun’s Open Source products.
» It significantly improves Oracle’s product portfolio and should mean an increased share of the corporate wallet for Oracle – though this is a two-edged sword – already I have heard rumblings about over-reliance on a single supplier. Some of the Sun products are not significantly high profile, especially Storage, and I would not expect to see another Data Appliance offering from Oracle given the poor showing last time.
» It secures a future for a world-class operating system – Solaris – that seemed to be entering its last days. This is very good news for customers who have significant investments in Solaris. It also slows the demise of the SPARC chipset and gives a lifeline to existing Sun hardware customers, giving a breathing space to beef up the x86 product offerings.
So yes, it would seem to make sense Oracle, Sun and the rest of us.
Java – Commercialise or Set Free?
Sun never really made much money from Java and efforts from Oracle to do the same may similarly founder. It may be that Oracle do what Sun could never allow themselves to do – finally liberate Java and release it control of Java to the Java Community.
Java is key to the future of Oracle’s software business, they will have to re-visit the Oracle/BEA technology roadmap once more to accommodate and assimilate the various Sun products – this could lead to further confusion amongst Oracle’s customer base driving migrations towards IBM Websphere or Red Hat JBOSS if clarity is not achieved – it is vital that this activity is completed as soon as possible.
Java is also key to a number of other vendors – not least IBM. Sun learned that to avoid a balkanisation of the Java market consensus had to be achieved, I hope that Oracle do not upset this consensus. Java is also important to other vendors, such as SAP – the major competitor to Oracle’s ERP stable – SAP have been getting closer to Microsoft & SQL Server at the low-end and IBM DB2 at the high end of customer installations – I would expect to see this process quicken.
JavaOne in June this year is going to be the most important for many years.
Open Source, Open Office and MySQL
Oracle have been safe hands for Berkley DB and other Open Source tools, but hardly a major force like say IBM. The acquisition of Sun makes Oracle a serious player, not least because of the control of Java.
MySQL. In the Open Source community this is THE story, but I don’t think MySQL was really an immediate threat to the database hegemony of Oracle in the short to medium term. It remains to be seen what Oracle intend to do with MySQL – so far there have been a lot of positive noises from them (to admittedly a highly cynical and suspicious audience). Enough of the core MySQL engineers had already left Sun to ensure a future for MySQL through the various new offerings popping up (Drizzle for example), and the skills exodus is likely to quicken unless Oracle can convince them to stay. I think if Oracle is serious they will need to be seen to be over-delivering in this area, otherwise they really should let it go.
Oracle has really been absent from the clamour towards Cloud Computing, I would expect that the acquisition of StarOffice/OpenOffice will lead to an Oracle Cloud offering in the very near future – this would be a serious competitor to the Microsoft/Amazon/Google push – I would expect Oracle to focus on Corporate rather than Consumer markets. Given that Office is one of Microsoft’s biggest earners I would expect investments in OpenOffice to accelerate rather than fall.
Only time will tell if this takeover is a catalyst to future world domination or just a bold attempt to keep Sun from the grim reaper….