Oracle Sun Acquisition Musings

A little time has past since the announcement that Oracle would acquire Sun. While there are still many unanswered questions, I thought I’d post a quick update on the topic.

The first topic I’ll cover is the Sun hardware business. From a recent interview with Larry (via Ostatic):

“No, we are definitely not going to exit the hardware business. While most hardware businesses are low-margin, companies like Apple and Cisco enjoy very high-margins because they do a good job of designing their hardware and software to work together. If a company designs both hardware and software, it can build much better systems than if they only design the software. That’s why Apple’s iPhone is so much better than Microsoft phones.”

Ellison also confirms in the interview that far from discontinuing the SPARC chip, he intends to increase investment in it. “We think designing our own chips is very, very important,” he said. He also notes that Sun outsources almost all of its manufacturing to companies such as Fujitsu.

So it looks like Oracle will indeed be pursuing the “entire stack” path that many predicted. One major benefit to Oracle here is that if a customer is getting both their hardware and software (including both the OS and applications) from the same company, it makes switching away from that company extremely costly and complicated.

That brings us to the OS. It’s still not clear to me which way Oracle is going to go here. Long term I can’t see Solaris and Linux being first class citizens within Oracle. Which one they choose remains to be seen. They “own” Solaris in a way they could never “own” Linux, which may be the deciding factor for a company like Oracle. That being said, I’d imagine more of their customers want Linux so it’s certainly not going to be an easy decision. Some are speculating (via Matt) that if Oracle does go with Solaris that a company like IBM may acquire Red Hat. I’m not so sure about that, but it is a possibility. While IBM does really like Linux, Jboss would be a major duplication for IBM (and it represents a lot of the growth potential within Red Hat).

Finally, here’s a recent announcement regarding MySQL:

The following was in the just released monthly bug report for the Falcon storage engine:

“With the news that Sun has aggreed to be purchaced by Oracle, Some inevitable changes will occur. Once the acquisition is made, the need for Falcon as a MySQL storage engine will be re-evaluated. Until then, Falcon will continue to improve stability and performance. The team will also evaluate other technical niches that may be unique to Falcon.”

I for one would be very disappointed to see Falcon not supported by Oracle. I know they have worked very hard to create a next-generation storage engine. While it could be argued that InnoDB can fill all use cases, I believe that choices are a good thing and having one less choice is not a good thing.

Good luck all on the team. You have been nothing but kind and generous when answering my dumb questions via email and in person. You can count my vote for “keep it!!”.

I think it’s clear that this acquisition will mean some significant changes for the future path of MySQL. The fact that a lot of upcoming MySQL-related innovation may come from outside the company, and from places like the Open Database Alliance should at least ensure that MySQL remains viable from a technology standpoint.

–jeremy

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