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Oracle Buys Sun


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Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 00:58:28 +1000

The news that Oracle is buying Sun has really stirred up the IT sector. Even though IBM would have seemed the ideal buyer, it might have been difficult for Sun to accept their old rival as the new owner.

Already some bloggers are starting to speculate about Java and MySQL. The question being asked by many is "What will Oracle do with MySQL, now that they own it?".

In fact Sun didn't own MySQL. It had been released under a GPL (GNU General Public License). And so, Oracle don't own it now. However the question still remains about what might happen to it. Sun were very generous in their support of MySQL. The DBMS has expanded to become powerful with many of the features found in far more expensive proprietary products (like Oracle). Several years ago when I evaluated postgres and MySQL, I found that postgres was considerably better then MySQL. Over the years however, the gap has closed.

And so the question that perhaps we should be asking is "Will Oracle be as generous in the support of MySQL as Sun was?". It will be something that is worth watching. But for the time being, all those bloggers speculating about what might happen to MySQL, can rest assured that it's quite safe thanks to the GPL.

And in my humble opinion, Oracle would be missing out on an opportunity to establish themselves as a major Open Source player, if they let the investment in MySQL slide. It is arguably, the world's most popular DBMS. And certainly it is the leading Open Source DBMS.

On the other hand Java has only recently been converted to open source. Although Sun started the open source initiative, there might still be vestiges of the proprietary strings that used to be attached to Java. And it has been an important component of Oracle's (so-called) "middleware". The future of Java is an issue that could be problematic. That's because Oracle now own many of the resources that were used to develop Java. And they might be tempted to tailor future development to suit the Oracle product lines.

We also have to wonder if Oracle will show the same generousity towards Open Office. Sun have donated a lot of resources towards Open Office. Since it is a desktop application Oracle may not be as interested in the product as Sun was.

In fact, it seemed that just before they were taken over, Sun went on a bit of an Open Source Rampage. They even released their Solaris Operating System with an open source license.

All of these are areas where Oracle could do well for themselves and for the IT commons. And in these new post-modern days, the new way to make money is not by selling the product but by selling the services and solutions that go with it. This is the same way that motor manufacturing barons made so much money last century. They made motor cars while the roads were built by and for the public. Without good roads, they wouldn't have sold many cars. Open source software and Open standards are the virtual highways for tomorrow's computing enterprises. Those that realise this are getting on with creating services to send down these open source pathways rather then squabbling over who "owns" the highway. That was yesterday's war.

For their own sake, let's hope Oracle have the good sense to continue down the open source route that Sun had recently embarked on.


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Copyright     2009, Gerry Patterson. All Rights Reserved.