Monday, April 20, 2009

So Oracle buys Sun

There had been rumours but it is still a surprising development. What does Oracle get for $7.9bn (a billion more than IBM was prepared to pay)?1 Surely stomping on MySQL can't be worth that much? Certainly Oracle already has enough web servers in its portfolio without taking on JBossGlassfish too. Perhaps what Larry really has bought is just the ultimate payback for all those cracks about Armani suits from Scott McNealy at OpenWorlds over the years.

More seriously, Oracle has staked a lot of its future on Applications. So having control of Java, the language of Fusion, has an obvious appeal. I imagine this news will disconcert some of the Java heads. I have known some who preferred to use Eclipse over JDeveloper, despite acknowledging that JDev is the better tool, because they wanted to remain free of proprietary frameworks. Well its all vendor specific now. Will Oracle continue with the OpenJDK initiative? There doesn't seem a lot of point spending all that money on getting Java only to proceed down the path to giving it away. On the other hand the past few years have seen much fanfare about Oracle's commitment to open standards and they will want to keep on board as much of the Java community as they can.

The notion of Oracle as a hardware vendor is an intriguing one. Oracle will be able to offer appliances such as Exadata without the trouble (and loss of potential revenue) incurred by partnering with a hardware vendor. The flip side is that hardware vendors may be less happy to accommodate Oracle on their boxes.

Which is where Linux comes in. Initially I thought that this acquisition might change Oracle's attitude to Linux. After all, as it no longer has to pay for Solaris licences, cost is no longer an issue. But Linux does have a couple of things going for it. One is that it provides a platform which will run Oracle on any vendor's hardware. The other is that the costs of maintaining it as an OS are defrayed amongst the thriving Linux kernel community. Oracle aren't going to kill off Solaris just to save costs: it has too big an install base (apparently there are more Oracle databases running on Solaris than any other OS). But I think Linux will remain Oracle's favoured platform. We might see a few Solaris utilities plundered and ported to Linux.

The staggering thing is that this is not Oracle's biggest acquisition. It paid more for PeopleSoft and BEA Systems, which is an indication of just how far Sun's stock has fallen in the last few years.

1. Or is it $7.4bn? Or even $5.6bn, a billion less than IBM was prepared to pay? Sources vary. Isn't the Internet a marvellous thing!


Laurent Schneider said...

The comment about Exadata is intriguing. Maybe they will using amazing Sun hardware portfolio to offer storage optimization on something else than x86 arch :)

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adam hartung said...

Sun had no hope of survival by the late 1990s when McNeely Locked-in on selling "boxes" and stopped listening to the marketplace. Sun created huge value with Solaris and Java, but had no idea how to capture that value so it just kept doing what it always did. Eventually, the market didn't see the value in the boxes any more, and the value of Solaris and Java had been frittered away. A lesson for any company that it must adapt to market needs or it will be squashed. Read more at

Eduardo Legatti said...

Hi Andrew,

I was thinking ... Letting Java aside, what will be the future of some products like MySQL and VirtualBox? Maybe just the time will answer ;-)


Log Buffer said...

"In his post, So Oracle buys Sun, Andrew Clarke says, 'The notion of Oracle as a hardware vendor is an intriguing one. [...]"

Log Buffer #143

Don said...

I thought RedHat owned JBoss, not Sun?

APC said...

> I thought RedHat owned JBoss, not Sun?

Good point. I meant some other app server ... (Some frantic Googling later)... Glassfish!