Monday, 20 April 2009

Oracle next to the Sun logo at my horizon

If I stick my head out of my window and hang out far enough without falling down, I might see one of the about 5 Sun buildings in my city. It's a 5 minutes walk to the nearest trainstation and just at the other side of the railway there is the Sun Campus in Amersfoort. There's also another location a little further away. Today I heard on the radio the announcement that Oracle is to buy Sun Microsystems, so in the near future I might see the Oracle logo on top of these buildings. If Oracle is not going to close them. I found the annoncement also here (in Dutch).

As often there are multiple perspectives on this story. I was actually a bit surprised at first. Although I understand the acquisition. The most obvious assets are:
  • Java, which is called by Larry Elision the most important softwareproduct Oracle ever bought.
  • Solaris, a Unix based operating system, that used to be the prefered platform. I believe that it was the platform on which Oracle first released their products. Now that position is taken by Linux. A nice asset after Oracle released about 2 years ago their Enterprise Linux based on RedHat's Open Source parts.
  • Suns servers, Oracle becomes a hardware vendor!
For Java there is another thing. Last year Oracle bought BEA Systems. And with that acquisition Oracle acquired also JRockit, another Java Virtual Machine implementation. With Sun, it has two major JVM-implementations. You can ask how open Java is when two of the main implementations is owned by a large Software Vendor. I'm not a doom-thinker and pestimistic in these things. But certainly this is a problem for many java-guru's and open source developers.

Shortly after I joined Oracle, now more than ten years ago, Larry Ellison announced the Raw Iron project. Oracle right on the hardware. So no OS in between (or at most a thin OS layer, but Oracle did not have an OS back then). When Oracle started with Oracle Enterprise Linux this vision started to become true a little. Last year on Oracle Open World, Oracle announced the Database Machine. Developed together with HP amongst others. Another step closer to the Raw Iron vision. But the idea has never been so close as now, when Oracle buys Sun. Oracle was always relying on others for hardware. Now Oracle is a competitor to HP, IBM and others.

Another thing that I found amusing is the following. About three and half years ago (oct. 2005), Oracle acquired the Finish company InnoBase/InnoDB. "Innobase Oy is the developer of InnoDB, the leading transactional storage engine for the MySQL open source database." It was in the time that SAP was looking at MySql. Oracle was besides a competitor also the leading database provider for SAP. And SAP one of the largest (if not the largest) reselller of the Oracle Database.
To me it seemed that InnoDB was of very little importance for Oracle. If I remember correctly the reason was that Oracle wanted to invest in Open Source solutions. But I felt it was a merely a stroke against SAP. With Sun Oracle also gets MySql. Thus the (I think) largest Database in Open Source solutions is then owned by the largest Database vendor of the world. I believe that is another problem for most open source developers.

A last thing I almost forgot is the StarOffice Suite. The suite that is open-sourced into OpenOffice. I wonder how long it takes before Oracle decides that the employees should not use MS Office anymore and removes it from the Oracle Base Image (the standard installation on Oracle laptops). With Oracle Microsoft will loose one of the largest Office customers...

Of course there is a lot more to say about it. But these are my first thougths about this remarkable acquisition in the IT world. I think it's even the most remarkable at the moment.


Frits Hoogland said...

Martien, the oracle database has been conceived on DEC PDP machines.
Even the start of OPS (the old name of RAC) was build in close cooperation with DEC.
The oracle 7 courses (in NL) where given on DEC machines.

Martien van den Akker said...

Ok. I think that's true. But I've understood that for many years for Oracle Solaris was the first platform to release new product releases on. Since a few years it is Linux now. But honestly I not on top of new releases.

Martien van den Akker said...

By the way, although I've never used it, Oracle gets also a new java-IDE with Sun. I'm curious what parts of that we'll see back in jDeveloper. Maybe they'll merge the two tools.

Frits Hoogland said...

True. If I am not mistaking, with version 8 oracle switched to sun/sparc as the development platform, I think 32 bit, if I recall it correctly.

By doing that, many projects (large projects, for national government for example) where also done on solaris because it was the development platform.

With version 10, again from what I've read, oracle switched to linux, to RHEL3.