Eight Reasons Why Oracle's Acquisition of Sun isn't All Bad

Wednesday Mar 10th 2010 by James Koopmann

Much has been said about why Oracle acquired Sun, how it will be the demise of the free world and produce a one-world database monopoly. While there is probably a little truth in the statement, we should keep in mind that much of what is happening can be beneficial for the end customer.

Much has been said about why Oracle acquired Sun, how it will be the demise of the free world and produce a one-world database monopoly. While there is probably a little truth in the statement, we should keep in mind that much of what is happening can be beneficial for the end customer.

There has been much said about why Oracle acquired Sun, how it will be the demise of the free world and produce a one-world database monopoly. While there is probably a little truth in the statement, after all what company wouldn’t want to have exclusivity with a customer base, we should keep in mind and understand that much of what is happening can be beneficial for the end customer. And while there probably is some good debate about how close Oracle actually is to providing a complete system stack the end result is that Oracle benefits, customers benefit, and other third-party vendors will benefit—ultimately providing more choices for customers.

1.  Open-source databases have gained ground. It doesn’t matter if you think Oracle will get rid of, improve, or keep the same MySQL we have all grown to love over the years. What matters is that other open-source databases have noticeably gained significant ground and are becoming more recognized. Take PostgreSQL for example. PostgreSQL has steadily, since the announcement of the acquisition begun to see skyrocketing downloads of the database and migration tools. If anything, this might prove to Oracle that the open-source market is nothing to bury under the rug and remove key people from positions that are vital to the database community as a whole.

2.  NoSQL is a viable alternative. Ok, while a relational database and NoSQL are not on the same playing field, the whole Oracle/Sun acquisition has provided an opportunity for organizations to look hard at alternatives to MySQL and whether a relational database is the right fit for their given application at all. It used to be that SMBs, OEMs, etc. would blindly install MySQL. Now, companies like Twitter, Rackspace, Digg, Facebook, Cisco, Mahalo, and Ooyala are switching to a NoSQL platform.

3.  Java. Need I say more? Oracle has come straight out and said that "Java is one of the computer industry's best-known brands and most widely deployed technologies, and it is the most important software Oracle has ever acquired" and that "Oracle Fusion middleware, Oracle's fastest growing business, is built on top of Sun's Java language and software. Oracle can now ensure continued innovation and investment in Java technology for the benefit of customers and the Java community." While many have contested the Sun acquisition because of a perceived uncertain future for MySQL, Java should be contested even more so as it is so widely distributed and used. Clearly, if Oracle was the great money making machine that could squash MySQL and self-promote their flagship database, an uproar should have sounded over Oracle tailoring, mutating, and charging for an enhanced Oracle Java layer that would need to be purchased. This wasn’t heard because it just isn’t going to happen and neither are the MySQL rumors.

4.  Open-source community should benefit. Regardless of what anyone says, I don’t believe Oracle is the great open-source killer. Oracle has been involved within the open-source community and to a larger extent than Sun at times. With MySQL and Java in Oracle’s back pocket, Oracle should continue to support and contribute to those projects as they continue to help innovate. Oracle’s ability to provide resources, now on the hardware side as well should be seen as a major plus. The only real question here is how far Oracle will help MySQL and Java in this regard. We could probably expect Oracle to limit the exposure of the Oracle RDBMS but Java should be left to flourish as it can only help integrate both software and hardware offerings.

5.  Solaris will clearly be around for a while. It has been suggested that without the acquisition by Oracle, Sun just might have shelved the Solaris operating system—putting an end to exceptional virtualization, massive multiprocessing, reliability, security, and administration. Those of us that have been around have come to lean heavily on Solaris being one of those key operating systems, if not the leader, for Oracle databases. With Oracle holding the keys now, Oracle can even more so tap into those unique and high-end features of Solaris.

6.  Oracle will lead the way in providing a complete system stack. Oracle’s acquisition of Sun clearly benefits customers in that Oracle can now, and wants to, engineer and deliver an integrated system of hardware, operating system, databases, middleware, and applications—architecting to improve integration, performance, scalability, and management so customers do not have to. This should help lower total cost of ownership while improving on performance, reliability, security, etc.

7.  We should get a lean mean vendor. Surely many think Oracle leans heavily on the mean side as many would tend to argue that mass layoffs, for the sake of just pushing operating profits from $800 million to $1.5 billion, have come too quickly. But let’s not forget that Sun was already in the process of layoffs before the acquisition. While I’m not fond of layoffs, been through too many, it can have a positive effect. After all, as a customer, would you really want to work with a hardware vendor and then a software vendor? I personally would want to work with a system integrator. And this is exactly what Oracle and Sun partners will be getting as they work with a single vendor to meet customer needs—obtaining a singular and improved access, support, and training for the now combined Oracle products. Just look at the opportunity Sun has with their 11K+ channel partners to build revenue around Oracle’s product line as well as Oracles 21K+ partner network to push Sun products. Additionally we are seeing the shutdown and cancelation of various projects. For instance there will be no external access to the Kenai project and no Sun Cloud public cloud service. This is all an effort to reel in, consolidate, and manage a much more focused service offering—clearly benefiting customers again as they search for a vendor/solution.

8.  Integration of knowledge including forums and training. While there will, for the near future, be separation of Oracle’s technology network and Sun’s BigAdmin and developer networks, the possibilities are vast when you start to bring together these huge resources. I know it’s easy to open up two web browsers but content should become much richer and more meaningful if we ever do get a one-view or system integration feel. Likewise Oracle certified training will be enhanced to now include MySQL, Java, SPARC, and Solaris. It gives me goose bumps just to think that database concepts will be potentially touched upon within system training AND system level concepts will be introduced to database technologists. After all, if we have a one-world, I mean one complete system stack vendor, isn’t this what we should expect?

Let’s face it. Sun needed to be acquired and personally I can’t think of a better company to purchase Sun than Oracle. If Sun would have been purchased by some other company that I won’t mention, we could have been having a VERY different discussion here. Just think if that other company would have control of Java and decided to yank the guts from within Oracle. Would we really NOT be talking about the future of MySQL? And if we didn’t talk about the future of MySQL would data centers be looking at other, possibly more viable, alternatives that could better solve their problems. Would we be better off without Solaris? I think I like the current direction much better. At least from a database practitioner’s point of view.

» See All Articles by Columnist James Koopmann

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