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Sun and Oracle: End of a beautiful dream
Open source goes to work
MySQL is more complicated, but it provides a ready-made opportunity for Oracle ISV and systems-integrator partners.
Many will be worried about the future of MySQL under Oracle - understandably so. but the deal likely means the continuation of development of the database. Oracle kept InnoDB going, despite buying it and removing a major pillar from beneath MySQL. It has also kept Sleepycat going. MySQL will give Oracle a bigger stake in the OEM, ISV, and web-development business - especially given that more than half of web developers use the database. The chafing will occur when you see customers who want to deploy MySQL in the enterprise instead of, say, Oracle.
Killing MySQL makes no sense. In fact, you might just see MySQL thrive under a leadership actually geared to making some money from software rather than just loving the idea of software and smothering it to death.
Sun has got a lot of other open-source software work. I've written a lot about the shortcomings of Sun's open-source software, but - surprisingly - this deal does not represent an automatic death sentence of all of these projects. This is where Oracle's due-diligence will kick in and where you can kiss good-bye to large-scale independent open source.
Optimists inside Sun will likely argue GlassFish, OpenSolaris, and Java CAPs can serve their new master in the same OEM market using MySQL. However, this would assume Oracle is interested in building an open, platform-neutral, and affordable third-party partner community. It isn't.
Oracle wants partners building on Oracle software that it can charge for, and that partners and customers must keep coming back to Oracle for, in order to expand its core business.
The biggest determining factor, though, will be cash generation. If any of these products were making money, they would pass Oracle's acid test for survival. They aren't.
You can also finally say goodbye to NetBeans, Sun's open-source Java-tools platform alternative to Eclipse. Oracle and Sun had a very public falling out in January 2006, when Oracle's head of server technologies said that his company had no plans to adopt NetBeans or any of its technologies - which was contrary to statements made by Schwartz. Oracle is Eclipse and its JDeveloper integrated development down straight down the line. There is no room for NetBeans.
Sun's open source will live on when it comes to building that integrated Sun-Oracle appliance that Oracle's president Charles Phillips mentioned while announcing the acquisition on Monday morning. Oracle is likely to build this using a combination of software that its engineers have judged valuable following careful evaluation. It will use this to build more server appliances following on from the HP Oracle Exadata Storage Server and HP Oracle Database Machine unveiled last October.
There can be little doubt that ZFS and D-Trace in Solaris and OpenSolaris are superior technologies. These will have tickets to ride in any Oracle-based systems that serve really large, information-serving and storing hardware and software systems from Oracle. And committed to such systems, Oracle is. The idea of a server appliance is one of Ellison's most cherished dreams, starting in 1998 with the 8i Database Appliance.
The idea of the appliance is an evolution of Oracle's earlier belief in the software stack - application server, database, middleware, and applications - all coming from the same provider. That Schwartz should now endorse this is not a surprise, but it is a shocking U-turn on his work at Sun.
Component elements of Sun's open-source software such as ZFS and OpenSolaris, combined with Sun's storage and Solaris, mean big bucks for Oracle. The company's underlying strategy is as an "information company". Hardware and software, be they appliances that speed up access to customers' information or software that makes systems mission-critical and cheaper to build, will survive the due diligence that's coming.