Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oracles Acquisition of Sun

Well, King Larry is at it again, swooping down and buying up Sun Microsystems. To the best of my knowledge, Oracle really hasn't made a major mis-step with any acquisition that it's done. And this one is a whopper, picking up one of Silicon Valley's stalwarts and a darling of the tech crowd.

But what does it really mean?

Well, for Oracle, it gives them a number of key items:

  1. A full stack, hardware on up, to allow them to offer an almost turnkey system (Solaris OS and Java). Oh, and if you want ERP solutions to run, they've got that too!
  2. An entry level, easy to use, multi platform database with over 2 million installations in MySQL. In addition to acquiring the subscription revenue stream, Oracle gets access to a huge user list, and a product that has deep global penetration at all levels of business.
  3. Open Office. While not a big part of the deal, nonetheless an interesting tool to jab at Microsoft with - Microsoft's Office cash cow is now under serious pressure from Google's thin client offerings at the consumer level and with Oracle's reach into corporations the Seattle boys could face considerable pressure on the desktop.
  4. A bunch of other interesting technologies, including the ZFS file system, that have potential for Oracle.

Now, being an open source proponent, one has to wonder about the future of Sun's open technologies and MySQL in particular. I've seen two trains of thought on the acquisition's impact on MySQL:

A. Oracle, being the evil, mean, nasty closed source commercial giant (whew!) close sources MySQL or lets it wither and die.
B. Oracle embraces MySQL as its open source offering and continues to nurture it.

I really can't see Oracle killing off MySQL. Let's face it, they would really p*ss off a lot of people by doing that. I could see Postgres gathering steam in that scenario, or another MySQL variant rising from the ashes. And we would be right back where we are today. Looking back, everyone expected Oracle to quietly bury InnoDB when they purchased them, and that hasn't happened. In fact, InnoDB continues to be a viable engine for MySQL. I foresee an improved MySQL offering under Oracle, as Oracle's culture won't tolerate the infighting that has plagued MySQL over the past few years, and has hurt product development.

I am interested in seeing the competition's reactions to the news. Will this reinvigorate Microsoft's interest in acquiring Yahoo? What will HP, a hardware partner with Oracle, do know that their partner competes with them? And what will IBM do next?

Interesting times...