Operating systems

What does the Oracle-Sun news mean for enterprise CTOs?

Bob Gourley of CTOvision.com reflects on the significance of the Oracle-Sun merger. In light of this new development, he has some suggestions for enterprise CIOs and CTOs.

Okay, sometimes I get emotionally attached to great technology. I need to watch that; I know humans are what is important. But science is cool too, and it gets really really exciting to watch great humans create and

field great technologies. That is why I have long been a fan of both Oracle and Sun. I like many other powerhouse IT companies as well, but those are the two names dominating this week's news and it has been the topic of dozens of conversations with other CTOs since the announcement that Oracle Buys Sun.

Here is some of the significance of the announcement, in my opinion:

  • This is a $7.4B purchase. Oracle would only have done this if they realized there is incredible value for IT customers in this transaction. The value of Sun is in far more than just intellectual property. It is in incredible thought leadership of Sun's talented people and terrific, visionary data center experience. It is also because of the tremendous community leadership in the open source world. And of course there is the hardware production, distribution and service -- and, as emphasized in the release, Java and Solaris.
  • You can believe Larry Ellison when he says, "The acquisition of Sun transforms the IT industry, combining best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems." He also said, "Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system - applications to disk - where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability and security go up." All of this rings true.

There are some immediate steps enterprise CIOs and CTOs should take because of this announcement:

  • Continue your plans to accelerate open source software into your enterprise. Move faster now. Your risk is lower than ever.
  • Understand that market dynamics are going to change. Oracle is a great company that will ensure Java and Solaris and MySQL continue to improve (with backing by and leadership of the great open source software community, of course). But understand the dynamics may change the equation when it comes to software support costs.
  • Move now to lock in your service and support plans for open source Solaris, MySQL, Java Composite Applications Platform Suite (CAPS) and Java Enterprise Services (JES). Lock in at today's rates if you can. And extend today's rates out for more years if you can.
  • The leading operating system for the Oracle database is Solaris. Since Solaris is now open and since its use is growing, there are huge numbers of trained administrators with mastery over Solaris. But this is a good time to re-evaluate how many trained masters you have. If you have an enterprise support agreement with Sun it might have training options on it that you are not using. Now is the time to max out your training. Clearly this is going to pay off for your enterprise long term. And after the acquisition is complete, there is a chance that if you have not locked in your training rates that some of this cost may go up.
  • With this agreement, enterprises are now faced with easy choices for identity management solutions. Sun Identity Management solutions already form about 60 percent of the identity management stack in the enterprise-class federal space. Oracle is their fusion middleware account for much of the rest of the enterprise-grade solutions space. Accelerate your Sun Identity Management solutions. I believe, just based on personal experience, that Oracle and their policy management capabilities are best of breed, and they can already be engineered to work with open enterprise class leaders like Sun. I imagine that will be a much smoother integration in the future, which leads to the next key point:
  • While now is the time to lock in rapidly your Solaris, JES, and MySQL support licenses, and take advantage of any Solaris/Java training available to you, you should also aggressively review the entire Oracle Fusion Middleware stack. There are some really GREAT capabilities there.
7 comments
wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Oracle has been talking about getting into the server market and this is a very good way for them to do that. Oracle already has a free version of their database software, but I personally think that if they can make enough money selling support for MySQL (it is a good product and usually in a different class than standard Oracle databases) then I think they will keep it around. How many resources they through at it may be a different story. Bill

wayne_wright
wayne_wright

Wow, how could you misread the tea-leaves so badly! Once Oracle gets control of all the Sun intangible property and other intellectual property rights, it could significantly hinder the progress that the US could make in Open Source products. Oracle has a penchant for eliminating competition and in this instance they probably will view the Open Source community/movement as a competitor. My concern is that Oracle might take actions that could impact the broader US Open Source community, and the benefits US companies derive from OSS, to the detriment of US technology companies. Sun has been a strong proponent of the Open Source Software (OSS) model, and has even adjusted their business model to support, collaborate with, and obtain mutual benefit from the Open Source Community. I don't think Oracle will take the same approach. I think if Oracle gets control, they will shut most of the OSS activities down and will move as much of the SUN IP back under proprietary protections as possible. I think that kind of action by Oracle will hinder the US OSS community and the continued evolution of OSS legislation/regulation in the US. If Oracle get control of the SUN IP, they might even start raising law suits to dissuade product vendors who are using OSS today in their products (there are literally hundreds of vendors like Cisco, Red Hat, Novell, etc. that have lots of open source software in their products or have built a business model on integrating and supporting open source products). And, there are still many unanswered and untested legal areas related to OSS. I read a book recently called "The Open Source Alternative" by Heather Meeker that illuminated how much of the OSS progress in the US is fundamentally based on the "live and let live" approach. I am concerned that if Oracle gets control, they will apply the "live and let die approach", and US competitiveness, gained by using OSS, will wither. Of course, that won't impact countries like China, India, and 3rd world countries who don't do business by our copyright laws. They will continue to steal software, put it into their products and services. The economic rents a company can gain from Proprietary software products are significantly higher than those that can be obtained from OSS. I was hoping to see OSS flourish in the US and that US copyright protections would adjust appropriately, allowing the US to continue to develop OSS (and embed OSS into products) and be able to offer a competitive price on products we develop. And, just as importantly, for US companies to continue to be at the forefront of developing new products, enhancements, new features, and new functions, using the OSS community. If Oracle gets control and impacts OSS like I think they could, the cost advantage for US companies to use OSS will dissipate. But, the countries in the world economy that don't have any interest in paying top dollar (economic rents) for proprietary software (especially to US owned companies), will simply reverse engineer and use, or otherwise steal software and other technologies we develop. They will then use them for products they develop. Perhaps eventually, deciding to not buy US technologies because they are not cost competitive and they are not providing new features and functions (advancing) quickly. And because I think Oracle actions could effectively shut down the broader Open Source Software community/movement (or move it to the underground economy), US propriety products will no longer have the features and functions worth paying the premium for (like they were when OSS was more easily and freely used).

Luca Ravazzolo
Luca Ravazzolo

The article seems a little bias on the open source. 1) Oracle DB is NOT open source and is proprietary 2) MySQL will probably disappear 3) Ellison did not buy Sun for granting anybody free open source software ;-) Facts: -sun has been for sales for a while. It never recovered from the dotcom crash. -Sun has always being a "system" hardware+software company (most of its revenue comes from it) -java is free... but it might not be anymore: Ellison said about java: "the single most important software asset we have acquired"... -More Oracle dbs run on solaris than any other platform. -Oracle is now the largest open source company... I wonder what the leagions of developers have to say about it... and WHAT they will say IF things will change... I'm sure they'll influence CTOs -Oracle expects Sun to generate about $2billions per year in hardware... There will be more industry consolidation IMO; we'll be back to fewer larger company offering more products and services... History "magistra vitae" :-)

cue.burn
cue.burn

Sun and "leadership in the open source world"?? Sun has been flaky, at best, when it comes to Open Source. Do you really believe Larry when he says, "Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system - applications to disk - where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves."? What about IBM...they have a very similar stack. I agree that this will be interesting to watch though.

MikeGall
MikeGall

IBM has SANs, Sun bought storage tek for that purpose. IBM has servers, Sun has servers. IBM has AIX and DB2, Sun has Solaris and MySQL. Not much difference in my opinion. The only thing I can think of is that Oracle really likes the Java platform and things of it as a "must have/must control" piece of the puzzle. I'm not sure what this will do to MySQL and other Sun open source projects. They can't really close source it, but what if they decide to not allow their employees to volunteer on it? Slap on a few NDA/no compete clauses and all of a sudden the open source community doesn't have the leaders for those projects anymore. Sure you can recruit new people, but it might loose its vision.

Jaqui
Jaqui

who are they kidding? anything written in Java, which Oracle loves to do, means system performance drops off completely.

pijs@spinnakersupport.com
pijs@spinnakersupport.com

Hello, Bob Interesting article indeed. My first thought about the Oracle Sun aquisition was "This will interesting to follow". My second thought, contrary to your beliefs, is "That is the end of MySQL!". It makes perfect sense for Oracle to shelf this product. Why do you believe that there is a future for MySQL? Thanks, Paul

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