Users: Oracle has lots of questions to answer about Sun deal

Sun customers waiting to hear more about Oracle's technology, support plans

Oracle Corp.'s planned acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. is raising questions among users on, well, just about every aspect of the deal.

What will happen, for instance to Java, OpenOffice, the MySQL database and Sun's hardware support after Oracle completes its $7.4 billion purchase? And what sort of new systems might emerge from the pairing of Oracle and Sun?

There really aren't any answers yet. In a brief conference call Monday morning, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison outlined some of the reasons for the move, praised a few of Sun's technologies, notably Java and the Solaris operating system — and largely left it at that. Ellison and other Oracle executives didn't take any questions, leaving plenty to be answered.

If you're running Solaris on Sparc-based systems, an immediate issue is the pending acquisition's effect on customer support. That's the case for Alfonso Rivera, manager of network engineering at Embarq Corp., a telecommunications and Internet services provider.

Sun's hardware is generally more expensive than that of its competitors, Rivera said via e-mail. But, he added, the differentiators working in the vendor's favor are a more stable operating system, more reliable hardware and "outstanding service and support practices." Those factors "more than offset the premium in hardware costs," Rivera said.

Now, Rivera said, he's concerned that Oracle will "undermine the Sun culture and negatively impact Sun's commitment to provide best-of-class service and support." If that happens, he wrote, "there will no longer be justification to pay the premium costs for their hardware."

Alex Wingeier, chief technical officer at CLRChoice Inc., a Palm Coast, Fla.-based company that has developed a real-estate search engine, thinks Java has a measure of protection because many other large vendors use the open-source technology as well. And Oracle itself has a vested interest in Java; during Monday's conference call, Ellison described Oracle's Java-based Fusion Middleware as the fastest-growing part of the vendor's business.

But Wingeier said that in discussing the planned acquisition with other members of CLRChoice's IT team, "we were not really keen on the fact that Oracle is buying Java, MySQL and OpenOffice, as we worry that they quite possibly could stop internal development on either one."

Not everyone is asking questions about the deal. Susan Walker, manager of enterprise computing services at St. Luke's Episcopal Health System in Houston, believes that an acquisition of Sun by Oracle will increase the competition in the enterprise IT market.

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