The five biggest changes out of Sun/Oracle

I'd thought about Oracle buying Sun. But, then I thought, "Larry Ellison isn't that dumb." Well, I was wrong. Ellison is that dumb. Oracle is buying Sun in what may be the most moronic technology acquisition of the 21st century.

I've looked at the Oracle/Sun deal. I've read Ellison's explanation as to why the buyout makes sense. I don't see it. I don't see any upside to this deal. And, on top of that, Oracle, which spent $7.4 billion for Sun, vastly overpaid for the company. This deal will make money for Sun's executives and stockholders, but it will prove to be a disaster for Sun's users, developers, and employees.

You see, I know Sun's technologies well and I just don't see a win here. IBM and Sun made sense. Despite their cultural differences, I could see Sun's software prospering with IBM. But Sun and Oracle? I only see most of Sun's technologies' dying with Oracle in charge.

Specifically, here's how I see it playing out.

1) MySQL is dead. Long live MySQL. Oracle doesn't have much to say about MySQL. Why should they? They're going to quietly kill the open-source DBMS as fast as possible.

Unfortunately for Oracle, it's too late. MySQL, under Sun's mismanagement, had already forked. MySQL founder, Michael 'Monty' Widenius left Sun and started his own community branch of MySQL, MariaDB. His purpose? "To provide a community developed, stable, and always Free branch of MySQL that is, on the user level, compatible with the main version."

That's one of the things that Ellison, and Microsoft for that matter, don't get. You can't kill open-source projects. Companies come and go, but popular open-source programs like MySQL just keep rolling on.

2) Solaris/OpenSolaris. Oracle is making sounds like it wants to do something with Solaris. Just don't ask me what. Solaris has been declining for years. Oracle uses Linux internally, and it even has its own rip-off of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Oracle Unbreakable Linux.

Ellison can talk all he wants about Sun's Solaris operating system being "by far the best Unix technology," but so what? Unix is dying. Linux has been eating away at the Unix market for more than a decade. Ellison's support of Unix makes a good sound-bite, but as a business move it makes no sense. I predict death by neglect for Solaris.

3) Java. Java has value, but Sun's done a poor job over the years of turning that value into money. Oracle, which uses Java in many of its applications, can certainly put Java to good work in supporting its own products. My question is, "What is Oracle going to do with the Java Community and vice-versa?"

I know some things will happen. NetBeans, for example, is history. Oracle is a big-time Eclipse supporter. As for the rest? I honestly don't know what Oracle will do with the JCP (Java Community Process). If they're smart, they'll get everyone together as soon as possible to spell out their future plans for Java. If Oracle doesn't, they'll have Java developers running, not walking, away from the Sun/Oracle Java as fast as they can.

4) SPARC. Oracle can talk all it wants about taking a step back to the past where companies sell hardware and software bundles, but I don't see it. Fujitsu will continue to make SPARC boxes for that dwindling market, and I expect to see Sun's x86-server based business getting either spun out as an independent company or sold to Dell or HP. I just can't see Oracle in the hardware business.

5) Sun's other open-source programs. I have a bad, bad feeling that Oracle is going to let popular and powerful open-source projects like OpenOffice and VirtualBox wither on the vine. Oracle is willing to spend money on open-source projects that it uses. For example, Oracle is a top contributor to Linux. But, I don't see these, or Sun's other open-source projects, contributing to Oracle's bottom-line, so I don't see them getting much support.

Over the years, Sun has contributed, albeit reluctantly at times, many great advances in operating systems and open-source software. With this acquisition, those days are done. Good-bye Sun, it was nice to have known you.

Oracle buys Sun

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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