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


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.

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James Koopmann

James Koopmann
James Koopmann
James Koopmann has fourteen years of database design, development and performance tuning experience. In addition, he has extensive database administration experience in Oracle and other relational databases in production environments, specializing in performance tuning of database engines and SQL based applications. Koopmann is an accomplished author with several technical papers in various Oracle related publications such as Oracle Magazine, Oracle Professional and SQL>UPDATE_RMOUG. He is a featured author and database expert for DatabaseJournal, a member of the editorial review committee for Select Journal (The Magazine for the International Oracle Users Group), an Oracle Certified Professional DBA and noted speaker at local Oracle User Groups around the country.

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